Why a Unity Ticket Isn’t Likely to Save the Democrats

Elections
Sen. Bernie Sanders attends a campaign event in Carson City, Nev., February 16, 2020. (Eric Thayer/Reuters)

Tim Miller writes a good column over at The Bulwark, laying out the hard lessons learned by the Jeb Bush campaign and NeverTrump forces in the 2016 GOP primary, and more or less screaming at anti-Bernie Sanders Democrats that they have less than two weeks before the Vermont senator accumulates a lead in delegates that will probably prove insurmountable.

Miller lays out a variety of recommendations for anti-Sanders Democrats, and closes by offering one last-ditch maneuver that wasn’t tested in 2016:

The other gambit that wasn’t tried but may have worked was an attempt by Cruz to form a unity ticket with Rubio. (Marco rebuffed it. Because, of course.) Here is a situation where a candidate dropping out could be purely additive to another candidate: if they literally joined the ticket. Unlike the lanes theory — where the voters magically all go to one candidate or the divvy up the states theory — at least this play hasn’t failed yet.

The problem with the unity ticket idea is that Democrats would need to pick two of the other contenders who could conceivably put together more delegates than Sanders does. Pete Buttigieg and . . . Joe Biden? Biden’s already spent eight years as veep. Buttigieg and Amy Klobuchar? The Minnesota senator appears to incandescently loathe the former South Bend mayor. Warren doesn’t seem to want to be the running mate of anyone other than Sanders. Bloomberg hasn’t won any delegates yet, and the rest of the field resents him for trying to buy the nomination. Pick any two of the remaining top five contenders at random, and you probably end up with a “unity ticket” without any, you know, unity.

“Unity tickets” are alliances borne out of desperation, and they aren’t likely to work unless both figures like and want to work with each other. A unity ticket is also an enormously unfair imposition upon the nominee. If you win the nomination, you’ve earned the right to pick the person you want to be among your most trusted advisors and a heartbeat away from the presidency.

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You shouldn’t have somebody who you disagree with — and beat in the primaries! — foisted onto you, destined to be this contrarian, disgruntled, not-entirely-trustworthy force in your presidency.

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