From the beginning of the 19th century until the very end of the 20th century, most vice presidents were chosen to “balance” their party’s ticket. The balance in question could be geographic—a northern presidential candidate like John F. Kennedy of Massachusetts picking a southerner like Lyndon B. Johnson—or it could be ideological—as when Governor Jimmy Carter, a southern conservative picked Walter Mondale, a northern liberal. That changed dramatically when candidate Bill Clinton selected Senator Al Gore as his running mate in 1992.
In this new paper, Elaine Kamarck chronicles the many dramatic ways in which the relationship between the president and vice president has changed in recent decades. She begins by examining the traditional model of the vice presidency that dominated American politics for centuries—what she calls the “arranged marriage” model—sharing colorful examples from some of history’s most acrimonious POTUS/VPOTUS pairings.
As Kamarck clearly illustrates, the Clinton/Gore ticket and White House was instrumental in breaking the old mold of the vice presidency. Al Gore was given unprecedented levels of responsibility and ownership over entire policy portfolios, from U.S.-Russian relations to the 1996 Telecommunications Act.
In the decades since Bill Clinton and Al Gore took office, the “partnership” model of the vice presidency has gained momentum, with Vice Presidents Cheney and Biden serving essential roles in the White House. Furthermore, this paper demonstrates that “balanced” campaign tickets have been unsuccessful in every presidential election since 1992. Thus, Kamarck contends, “For the foreseeable future, the partnership model in the vice presidency will prevail, continuing to make the office into much more than it ever was.”
President-elect Bolsonaro has embraced tough-on-crime measures that egregiously violate basic human rights and eviscerate the rule of law. Responding to Brazil’s 63,880 homicides in 2017, Bolsonaro calls for increasing protection for police officers who kill alleged criminals and arming citizens. He calls for further militarizing urban policing, reducing the age of criminal liability from 18 to 16, reinstating the death penalty, authorizing torture in interrogations and imprisoning more people... Brazil’s police are already notorious for being one of the world’s deadliest in the use of force. In many favelas, Brazil’s retired and current police officers operate illegal militias that extort and control local communities, murdering those who oppose them and engaging in warfare with Brazil’s highly-violent gangs and in social cleansing. Bolsonaro is simply threatening to turn the rest of the police into state-sanctioned thugs.