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The Importance of the Vice President

“The most “The vice president has two

insignificant officer duties. One is to inquire daily
that ever the as to the health of the “I have no interest in
invention of man president, and the other is to it. Might very well
contrived” attend the funerals of Third turn it down, indeed,
– first Vice President, World dictators. And neither and probably would.”
John Adams of those do I find an enjoyable –Al Gore, before
exercise.” becoming Clinton’s
“You’re not going to –Presidential candidate John running mate in 1992
take it are you?” McCain in 2000
“I suppose I’ll have to” “The vice presidency
– Conversation between “I never had a boss. I don’t is not only a
Grace Coolidge and her know how I’d handle it.” meaningless but a
husband after he was –Joe Biden, before he became hopeless office.”
nominated for VP in Obama’s running mate –Arthur Schlesinger Jnr
“I would a great deal rather
“I do not propose to be buried until I am dead.” be anything, say professor of
–Daniel Webster, turning down the vice presidency in history, than vice president.”
1839 –Theodore Roosevelt
Enquiry Question: How important is the vice-president?
Learning Objectives
• To explain the significance of the vice
• To analyse the extent of changes to the role of
vice president during the tenures of Cheney
and Biden
• To evaluate the reasons for and consequences
of this
Constitutional Analysis

Read Article 2, Section 1 (Role of VP)

In case of the removal of the President from office,

or of his death, resignation, or inability to discharge
the powers and duties of the said office, the same
shall devolve on the Vice President, and the
Congress may by law provide for the case of
removal, death, resignation or inability, both of the
President and Vice President, declaring what officer
shall then act as President, and such officer shall act
accordingly, until the disability be removed, or a
President shall be elected.
Thinking Points
• What do you think this article actually
• What does it refer to when it says “the
same shall devolve upon the Vice
• Does it mean the responsibilities of the
President, or the presidency itself?
• Does the Vice President remain Vice
President, or become Acting President if
the President is still alive?

The fact that John Tyler in 1841 took over the

actual role of President from W H Harrison may
have set a precedent, but didn’t really establish
the Vice President’s official position any more
Roles of the Vice President
“Still not much else…”
• The problem is quite
simple…The Constitution
says very little about what
the actual role of the Vice
President would be if he
did not actually take over
that of the President.
• Article 1 Section 3 tells us:
– Casting vote as ‘president
of senate’ (rare and
usually done by president
– Presiding over counting of
presidential election votes
Roles of the Vice President
“Still not much else…”
• The Constitution only gives the
Vice President two duties besides
becoming President if the
President is removed from office:
1) to preside over the Senate, and
2) to help decide the question of
presidential disability.
• If the office of Vice President
becomes vacant, the President
nominates a new Vice President
subject to the approval of
• Today, the Vice President often
performs diplomatic and political
chores for the President.
Constitutional Analysis

The Evolution of the Vice-Presidency

Read the following parts of the constitution;

• 12th Amendment 1804
• 25th Amendment 1967

How do you think the vice-presidency has evolved?

Presidential Disability
What happens?
• Sections 3 and 4 of the 25th Amendment provide
procedures to follow when the President is
• The Vice President is to become acting President if
(1) the President informs Congress, in writing,
“that he is unable to discharge the powers and
duties of his office,” or
(2) the Vice President and a majority of the
members of the Cabinet inform Congress, in
writing, that the President is thus incapacitated.
Examples: 25th Amendment in Action
Pause For Thought
Making the leap between VP & P
• Only 4 VPs have announced their
own victories after presiding over
the electoral college vote –
Adams, Jefferson, Van Buren and
Bush Sr.
• We may infer from this that the
vice presidency doesn’t seem to
be the best possible direct route
to being elected president.
• Only 14 VPs have gone on to the
presidency, including those who
were forced to take over because
of death or resignation of the
president during a term o foffice.
Vice Presidents who have become Presidents
The Constitution and
• Presidential succession is
the plan by which a
presidential vacancy is
• The 25th Amendment,
ratified in 1967, made it
clear that the Vice
President will become
President if the President is
removed from office.
• The Presidential Succession
Act of 1947 set the order
of succession following the
Vice President.
Vice Presidents who have succeeded to the Presidency
Pause For Thought
The only two VPs to resign from office – John C Calhoun
and Spiro Agnew.

Calhoun resigned in 1832 to join the

Senate after falling out with Agnew was forced to resign in 1973
President Jackson. after being investigated for fraud.
Quick Quiz
Have you been listening?
1.1. How
47 many vice presidents have there been including Joe Biden?
2.2. Who
Johnwas the first?
3.3. Where
Articlein2 the constitution does it say that the vice president
Section 1
takes over should the President not be able to continue in
4. Amendment 12
4.5. That the
Which vice president
amendment has the
said that casting
there had tovote
be aasseparate
president of the
vote to
elect the vice president?
5.6. George
Article H W Bush
1 Section in 1989
3 says what about the vice president in relation
7. toJohn
the C Calhoun and Spiro Agnew
6.8. Lyndon
Who wasBthe Johnson
latest vice president to directly succeed the
previous president?
7. Name the two vice presidents who have resigned from office?
8. Which vice president succeeded Kennedy on the latter’s death?
Learning Objectives
• To explain the significance of the vice
• To analyse the extent of changes to the role of
vice president during the tenures of Cheney
and Biden
• To evaluate the reasons for and consequences
of this
The Modern Vice Presidency
Article: How the vice president became a powerful
and influential White House player

“What are the principal reasons

why the vice presidency has
become more important since
the second half of the 20th
Balloon Debate
YOUR TASK: Article: The Role of
• You will be required to work in groups the Modern Vice-
of 4. President
• You will take on the role of moderator, Article: How Dick
or one of the three most recent vice Cheney became the
presidents; Cheney, Biden and Pence. most powerful VP
• You will be provided with 4 articles, but Article: Could Pence
you can supplement this with be the most
additional research if you wish. powerful man in
• You need to prepare your roles for a Article: Why Joe
balloon debate, where only the most Biden was an
powerful VP will survive. unusual VP
Balloon Debate
How does it work?
• You are in a hot air balloon which is losing height rapidly and will
soon crash because it is overweight; therefore you have to get
rid of some of the passengers!
Who would you choose?
• The passengers are Dick Cheney, Joe Biden and Mike Pence.
• The moderator will organise the debate and ask questions of the
• The first round will be based around a 2 minute speech about
the strengths of the different VPs – you need to persuade the
• The second round, after one VP has been thrown overboard, will
be based around a 1 minute speech about the weaknesses of
the other VP – again you need to persuade the moderator.
Who was the most powerful Vice-President?
Vice Presidential Case Studies
What were the similarities and differences between
Cheney and Biden?
Quick Quiz
Have you been listening?
1.1. Where is Naval
The Old the vice president’sWashington
Observatory, official residence?
2.2. Who were
Al Gore andBush’s
Dick and Obama’s vice presidents?
3.3. What name do
The Dream we give to the careful choice of running
mate that complements the skills of the presidential
4. Geraldine Ferraro
5. Sarah Palin
4. Who was the first woman vice presidential nominee for
6. aJoe Biden
major party?
5. Who was the second?
6. Whom did Trump choose as his running mate in 2016?
Learning Objectives
• To explain the significance of the vice
• To analyse the extent of changes to the role of
vice president during the tenures of Cheney
and Biden
• To evaluate the reasons for and consequences
of this
How important is the role
of the Vice-President?
How important is the role of the
Among the ways the role of the vice-president may be seen to be
important are:
• ‘balancing the ticket’ in elections providing experience or expertise
• taking responsibility for specific areas of policy
• acting as a congressional liaison
• ‘attack dog’ – criticising opponents more forcefully than the president
is able to
• standing in for the president
• cheerleader – taking the lead on potentially unpopular policies
Arguably, the role of vice president reached a new level of importance
during the tenure of Dick Cheney, principally because of President Bush’s
relative inexperience in a number of key areas; Joe Biden has assumed an
increasingly high-profile role as vice-president, but is unlikely to match the
extent of Cheney’s influence.
Application Task:
How important is the role of the Vice
President?(15) OR
Assess the factors that affect the role of the Vice-
President. (15)
Flipped Learning Preparation Task:
The Federal Bureaucracy (Bennett p239-248)
Stretch & Challenge Task
Increasing the Power: The Role of the Vice
Presidency Before and After Dick Cheney