The office of the Vice Presidency has become an office of real substance and significance since the time of Richard Nixon as Vice President under Dwight D. Eisenhower from 1953-1961.
Before that, the Vice Presidency was an office ignored and forgotten, except when a President died in office.
Only three Vice Presidents, all early on in American history (John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, Martin Van Buren) had been elevated to the Presidency by election, rather than succession due to death of the President.
Only when George H. W. Bush succeeded Ronald Reagan by election in 1988, did we again have a Vice President elected directly to the Presidency.
However, we did have Nixon lose the Presidency after Eisenhower, only to win it eight years later in 1968. And we did have Hubert Humphrey, Walter Mondale, and Al Gore run for President and lose.
Now, we have former Vice President Joe Biden having a good chance to be the Presidential nominee of his party in 2020.
But in many ways, even more significant now than the Presidential race, is the reality that the odds of a future Vice President succeeding during the term is magnified by the fact that all four leading individuals who might be President in 2021 are old men–Donald Trump at 74, Joe Biden at 78, Michael Bloomberg at 78, and Bernie Sanders at 79, when the term begins in January 2021.
All except Bloomberg have known health issues–Trump both mentally and physically, Biden mentally, and Sanders physically. Bloomberg at this point seems free of any mental or physical health issues.
But the reality that the three Democrats will reach 80 in either the first or second year of the next term is alarming and worrisome, and magnifies the importance of choosing the right Vice Presidential choice, with the odds growing that whoever it is, he or she is likely to occupy the Oval Office before January 2025.
It is a sobering thought, but one must face reality, so the choice of a running mate is more crucial than ever before.