08/07/2008 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Let The Delegates Decide Who Will Be The Vice-President: Have An Open Convention

In 1956 the Democratic presidential nominee Adlai Stevenson surprised the Democratic delegates meeting in Chicago by throwing open the vice-presidential nomination to the convention.

Stevenson's desire for an open convention led to Senator Estes Kefauver being chosen over Senator John F. Kennedy. In fact, Kennedy was in the lead until Senator Albert Gore (former VP Al Gore's father) from Tennessee started a bandwagon for his Tennessee Senate colleague, Kefauver.

Think how different history might have been if Kennedy had won the VP nomination and gone down to defeat with Stevenson in the fall. Kennedy might not have won the presidential nomination in 1960 as a fresh face for the party.

Fast forward to 2008. This year the Democratic Party has tried to be as open as possible with the voters deciding their candidates in primary after primary and caucus after caucus.

Why not open up the convention and let the delegates decide on whom they would like to see as their vice-presidential nominee to run with Obama?

Why not open the debate among the delegates to see who has the most support on the convention floor in Denver?

And, why not let the Republicans in Minneapolis also open their convention to see whom the delegates would like as McCain's running mate?

If Hillary Clinton is as popular as polls indicate among her supporters attending the Denver Convention, why not see how strong her support actually is for being the VP choice on the convention floor?

Certainly the delegates from all across the country might come up with a stronger national candidate than, say, Governor Kaine of Virginia, who has very little foreign policy experience and has only held his office for about the same short amount of time as Obama has been in the Senate.

Most likely the delegates would choose a stronger candidate for vice-president than someone like Virginia's Governor Kaine, whose main claim to fame might be his ability to bring his state into the Democratic column in the general election.

In addition to smacking of the old time politics of choosing a VP only for their geographic gift, it goes against Obama's talking about how he will change politics.

Surely the delegates from every state in the nation would have a better feel on who they think might actually be able to step in on day one if the vice-president had to take over. Wouldn't we want someone with some national experience?

A vice-presidential choice should not be made lightly. Remember that Nixon had to resign from the presidency and that Clinton was impeached and could have had to leave office if the Senate vote had gone against him.

If the Democrats and the Republicans want to be truly democratic -- and add some very needed excitement to their conventions -- then take a page from the 1956 Democratic Convention and let the delegates decide.

The delegates will probably make a better choice than the ones we are hearing that Obama and McCain may be getting ready to make any day now.

Stop! And wait for the conventions to decide who will be the vice-presidential choice.

I have nothing against Obama and McCain's abilities to choose a vice-presidential candidate. However, I was at the 1972 Democratic Convention working for McGovern when we were 1000 percent behind his vice-presidential choice, Senator Tom Eagleton. Eagleton was dropped from the ticket because of controversy over some medical problems. He was replaced by Sargent Shriver, which was not good for an already struggling campaign.

So, maybe the delegates could make better choices than the presidential nominees.

And think of how interesting it would be to actually see a convention go beyond one ballot in choosing a vice-presidential nominee -- another historic moment for an already historic convention in Denver.

I hope this happens next month in Colorado -- and in Minnesota in September.