Kevin Sweitzer: Perez for VP

Wednesday, July 13, 2016 - 6:25pm

With the conclusion of the 2016 presidential primaries, presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton has turned her attention toward presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump and the November showdown that awaits them. While the 2016 election cycle has proven itself to be anything but normal, America finds itself at a crossroads once again: one key milestone remains that still mirrors the bygone days of presidential election campaigning.

The “veepstakes,” as they are so cleverly called by many a political pundit, is the mandatory process of choosing a vice presidential candidate to run and campaign with the nominee. As the name suggests, this process is more of a sweepstakes than it is about political clout, as the vice president rarely carries as much responsibility or respect as the president.

In the early days of this nation, the vice president was chosen as the second-place finisher in the general election. As one can easily imagine, this did not work out well, and as the two party system emerged, the parties started nominating their own candidates for vice president. This election year is no different, and despite all of the calamity associated with the election, Clinton will choose a Vice President.

Every four years, pundits across the nation talk about the benefits of every political player for vice president. However, at the end of the day, the role of the vice president is someone who can advise the president, serve in the cabinet and perform the duties of the president in the case of the president’s departure from office.

The last thing that Clinton needs when campaigning against Trump is another boring white man from Ohio (sorry, Sherrod Brown) or another lifelong politician with a history of shady contributions (sorry, Tim Kaine). Additionally, she cannot afford to risk flipping a Senate seat to the Republicans in a swing state (sorry, Cory Booker). Even worse would be an inexperienced or potentially unprepared politician who may not be able to perform the duties of vice president (sorry, Julian Castro). The only person fit for the current political climate of 2016 is someone who can use economic experience to appeal to everyday Americans, while understanding the complex social identity issues that are present in our nation today.

That’s why I urge Hillary Clinton to choose the Secretary of Labor Thomas Perez as her vice presidential nominee in 2016.

The son of Dominican immigrants, the Harvard educated Tom Perez spent much of his young life in the civil rights division of the U.S. Department of Justice, working primarily in the areas of migrant worker exploitation and hate crime prosecution. Once he jumped into the political landscape, he served as the director of the Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation before becoming the head of the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice. Perez isn’t simply a Latina/o person who will fire up the base, he is an avid fighter for civil rights and the rights of working Americans. As assistant attorney general, he led many investigations into police violence and LGBT access to education, both of which are extremely important issues in our nation today.

As Secretary of Labor, he has been seen as a progressive leader, and has the support of many organized labor groups, including the largest congress of trade unions, the AFL-CIO. Clinton can work to repair any hard feelings with the Bernie Sanders camp by choosing a progressive labor leader as her running mate. Perez has spent his entire career fighting for what is right and what is just. This is the exact type of leadership that Clinton hopes to have and can work towards with Perez.

By choosing Tom Perez as her running mate, Hillary Clinton will be cementing her candidacy as the candidacy of equality, fairness and the rights of all Americans. She already has the foreign policy and economic experience to be a great leader, and can use Perez’s experience in civil rights advocacy and labor relations to address the key social issues of importance to our country.  

Donald Trump is not a traditional presidential candidate, and the 2016 election is one of the most nontraditional elections of all time. If Clinton wants to win in November, she must do her best to ensure that her entire campaign is on the same page and has the same goals in mind. Clinton/Perez 2016 will do just that, and is the best team to defeat Trump in November.

Kevin Sweitzer can be reached at ksweitz@umich.edu.