The Facebook walls are abuzz with debate over Trump’s presumptive nomination. People are waiting with baited breath to see who he will name as his running mate and the former #NeverTrump people in particular are looking hopefully for a chance to vindicate their newfound willingness to support the Donald. Just a note: While it isn’t a sure thing, don’t be surprised if we see Trump choose a strong, constitutional (even Christian) conservative as his VP. But it may well indicate shrewd thinking as opposed to a sign of emerging principles. Here’s why.
Whatever Trump may say about not needing to unify the party, he knows that every vote counts, and while he can afford to make a go of it without some religious voters, every one he can actually get leaves him closer to the presidency. Appointing a constitutional, conservative, Christian will bring in an untold number of people who either don’t realize that the vice presidency is, as John Adams said, “the most insignificant office that ever [was] the invention of man” or are so desperate they are willing to accept even that sop as proof of Trump’s “character” in their wishful thinking.
And what is the one “useful” role of the vice president? How might he or she actually go from being useless to relevant? It happens when the president is killed or…impeached. If Trump is half as intelligent as he pretends to be (or if his advisers are), he must realize that of all of the prospective candidates in recent history, he is the most likely to face impeachment and possible removal from office. Whatever his supporters may say, most of the country dislikes him and much of it positively hates him. In order to survive impeachment proceedings (and modern presidents offer chances for impeachment on an almost daily basis–Trump will be no different), he would need his party united behind him. It isn’t: liberals loathe him, real conservatives despise him, the establishment hates him. He should be ripe pickings, unless he takes some precautions. What if his pick for VP, the next in line were he to be impeached, were such a religious conservative as to be completely unacceptable to the liberals and the establishment? It would then turn the tables on them, making Trump the “lesser evil.” He would then be safely ensconced behind the support of his own mortal enemies.
Trump, of course, benefits from this arrangement without suffering any risk or harm. So, while I can’t speak directly to the man’s heart and mind, it is useful to remember that it is not at all unlikely that Trump will choose a strong candidate to serve as his VP–and if he does the scrutiny should not stop.