Imagine a Dem VP nominee who can speak with clarity about antitrust legislation to limit the market power of Big Ag (and other such things)
I don’t want to compare myself to other people [in contention for the job], but I will tell you I’ve spoken with so many groups and I’ve represented those folks as a small-town lawyer, as a small-town mayor, as a state senator, then representing the state. I understand those folks and their struggles,” [Agriculture Secretary Tom] Vilsack said. “In this particular election, given the uneasiness people have about Mr. Trump in small towns where I’ve been working, there’s an openness [to Democrats].”
— Vilsack stock rises as Clinton nears VP pick:The former Iowa governor is the subject of increasing speculation within Clinton’s political orbt., Gabriel Debenedetti and Helena Bottemiler Evich, Politico, today
One of my pet peeves about Hillary Clinton is how mindless—how autopilot-y—her political instincts are. I wrote recently, and had written earlier, about her factually off attempt last summer to pander to current and aspiring small-business owners by promising that she could have the federal government streamline the time it takes to start a business and cut down on regulations on small businesses. The federal government plays virtually no role in the regulation of small businesses—local and state governments regulate most small businesses—and the role that government at any level plays in business startup time is a matter of about a week for most businesses.
But hiding in plain sight were things she could have mentioned about the role that the federal government could play in things of critical importance to small business owners of various types. And some things that, thanks to Dems, it already does. Specific regulation of the financial services industry, for example—such as the Durbin Amendment, a form of antitrust regulation of Visa and Mastercard concerning business fees for credit and ATM card transactions, enacted by the Dem.-controlled Congress in 2009—has mattered a lot, and should be strengthened. And other antitrust enforcement and proposed legislation, such as to decrease the market chokehold of the major transportation companies and Big Ag, would make a significant difference to small-business owners, including farmers.
Elizabeth Warren talked about this in a highly publicized speech a couple of weeks ago. And Bernie Sanders discussed it often on the campaign trail, including, in Iowa, proposals for antitrust legislation to limit the market power of Big Ag.
Clinton reflexively equates the possibility of Dems attracting white rural and small town residents with triangulation. I myself have long believed that standard-issue triangulation is not the ticket to winning some support in rural and small town areas, but that specific sophisticated policy discussions about nonconventional issues—such as about antitrust regulation—is. Ditto for small-business owners and aspirants.
The rap on Vilsack apparently is that he’s boring. And that he wouldn’t make a good attack dog against Trump.
I don’t think Clinton needs an attack dog, in the conventional sense, as her running mate. Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders both get extensive media coverage for what they say, and people really listen to and care about their speeches. They’ll play a tremendous dual role in educating the public about the Dem platform—and the Repub one. And Warren can skewer Trump like she was born to do it.
My own choice for VP nominee is Sherrod Brown, whom I’ve been a huge fan of since he appeared on my radar screen during his 2006 Senate campaign; he and Dick Durbin are my favorite senators. Brown would make a wonderful candidate, and would appeal to rural and small town voters precisely because he’s a liberal—in ways that would matter to them. But I share the hesitation about him that Clinton and other Dems have: his seat would be turned over to a Kasich appointee for a while.
And I think his teaming up with Sanders, Warren, Durbin, Jeff Merkley, Baldwin and Jack Reed in a Dem-controlled Senate, along with a couple of new true progressives, would prove historic. Which is what I think Clinton should campaign on.