As a lover of the theatrical nature of politics, I have come up with the resolution to this historic and wild election year that we all deserve. It’s the scenario that concludes with Barack Obama being elected President of the United States, and Sarah Palin serving as his vice president.
My desire for this outcome has nothing to do with ideology, and everything to do with exposing quirks in the American electoral system. After I spent time in Florida during the election standoff of 2000, I thought I'd never see anything quite as odd. But there is one scenario that mght even trump Bush v. Gore, and give the nation an Obama/Palin tandem.
Hey, it’s a longshot, but it could happen. Here’s how:
Assume that Obama holds on to states where he is currently ahead, including Nevada, Michigan, Pennsylvania and New Hampshire. Now, assume that McCain maintains his hold on Colorado, Virginia, Ohio and Florida. That would give both men 269 electoral votes – a tie – and leave the decision up to the Congress.
The Twelfth Amendment makes provisions for an electoral tie. In that case, the president would be elected by the House of Representatives. Each state would get one vote. So, California with it’s 53 House members, would get one vote, as would Alaska, with its one representative. Democrats control 26 state delegations. Republicans have a Congressional majority in twenty-one states. Three states – Arizona, Kansas and Mississippi – are split evenly. So presumably, by a narrow margin, Obama would emerge as the winner of that contest (even though some of those 26 states would have voted for McCain. You can see the possibilities for mischief and political posturing here, but hey, we’re just dreaming).
Now, the Twelfth Amendment also makes provisions for choosing the vice president in the event of an electoral tie. That job falls to the Senate, where Democrats and Republicans each hold 49 seats. Two seats are held by independents – Vermont Socialist Bernie Sanders, who would presumably back Joe Biden, and Connecticut Sen. Joe Lieberman, who has backed the McCain/Palin ticket.
If that vote ends in a 50-50 tie, it would then fall to Vice President Dick Cheney to break the tie, and essentially handpick his successor. And if he follows party lines, he would cast his vote for Palin.
We know, we know, it’s far-fetched, and it probably would never happen. But after watching the developments of this most unlikely of political years, anything is possible.