Why Tim Kaine Makes Sense. | Gradient

Why Tim Kaine makes sense.

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On Friday, Hillary Clinton surprised virtually no one by selecting former Virginia governor Tim Kaine as her running mate. He’d been the rumored frontrunner for Clinton’s selection for at least a month, and despite buzzier names like Elizabeth Warren and Julian Castro being in the mix, the general sense in Washington was that the position was Kaine’s to lose. Those predictions were accurate. It makes sense.

In 2009, A.V. Culvahouse — the attorney in charge of vetting John McCain’s VP picks — famously (and prophetically) described Sarah Palin as “high risk, high reward”. Kaine is almost the complete inverse of that assessment. He may not be the firebrand some disaffected progressives would like on a ticket, but Clinton has never been the revolutionary type that’s become so faddish on political tickets. She’s a cautious woman, Hillary Clinton; a policy nerd who seems most out of her element when she’s trying to appeal to voters from behind a podium. That’s a trait she shares with Kaine, who’s been described by many people — himself included — as “boring”.

Unlike Clinton however, Kaine’s name does not immediately raise the ire of huge portions of the country. Indeed, upon the official announcement, Republican Senator Jeff Flake tweeted his congratulations.

“I don’t want to say anything bad about him, because he’s a very nice guy, but I don’t want to say anything good about him because I’m a Republican,” Speaker William J. Howell of the Virginia House of Delegates told The New York Times. “The one thing I will say for him is, unlike some other governors we’ve had, he didn’t seem to waver or waffle.”

That’s probably just the reaction the Clinton campaign was hoping for. They’ve been trying to push back against accusations that Kaine is too “centrist”, but they shouldn’t. Kaine’s centrism is a welcome trait in a bitter election. As Mother Jones put it, “Kaine is a devout Catholic driven by the gospel of social justice and less concerned with the social issues that have become political wedges. Over the course of his career, he has dedicated himself to incremental progress in a red-turned-purple state.”

In the wake of the GOP’s nomination of the most loathed presidential candidate in the modern era, millions of Republican votes are up for grabs. If the second most loathed presidential candidate in the modern era wants to win those votes instead of having them vanish into the Libertarian ether, she’s going to have appeal to the middle. On the same day Donald Trump was doubling down on allegations that Ted Cruz’s father was somehow involved in JFK’s assassination, Republican leaders were struggling to come up with a bad thing to say about Tim Kaine. That’s why Kaine is the sensible choice. Even the smart one.

He provides an immediate counter to a number of pro-Trump arguments. Are Republicans worried that Clinton will crack down on religious freedom? Her running mate is a former missionary and a faithful Catholic. Are they thinking Donald Trump will tighten restrictions on abortions? Tim Kaine fought against tax payer-funded abortions. Does Trump’s history of racial housing discrimination make some Republicans nervous? Tim Kaine is one of America’s champions of fair housing. Does Trump seem too volatile or inexperienced? Tim Kaine is very experienced, and perhaps the least volatile person in the race, if not all of Washington D.C. A little boring? Sure. But in this election, boring doesn’t sound so bad.

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