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Why we should repeal the Twelfth Amendment. Plus, which state will the tightest in the 2012 election?

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Repeal the Twelfth!

Sick of all the hyper-partisanship and legislative paralysis? What if we force our political parties to share the power? It’s the way we started — in 1796, Federalist John Adams won the presidency, while his opponent, Democratic- Republican Thomas Jefferson, became vice president. Imagine Al Gore as George W. Bush’s vice president and you get the idea.

That arrangement got the heave-ho when the Twelfth Amendment was passed eight years later, but maybe it’s worth another look. Adams and Jefferson famously fought through their term (they became friends later), but the result of all the give and take was (mostly) wise policy moves when America was still in diapers.

So we could just repeal it and go back to the loser’s consolation being the vice presidency. They could fight it out like the parties do today, but they’d have to govern together — something our current party leaders seem to have forgotten, stuck as they are in constant campaign mode.

Or, if we had a magic wand, we could force each candidate to choose a vice president from the opposing party. That way, moderate voices from each party would be valued, and extremism would get punished. Obama would no doubt pass over Newt Gingrich, for example, but he might pick Olympia Snowe; and Mitt Romney wouldn’t want Chuck Schumer, but he could learn to live with Jon Tester.

States to Watch

Recent polls showing Arizona a dead heat between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney raised eyebrows, but the New York Times’ Nate Silver points out there will be closer contests. He showed on his “Five Thirty-Eight” blog that Missouri was 2008’s tightest race, with John McCain winning by 0.1 percent of the vote. Arizona, McCain’s home state, was 8.5 points out of Obama’s reach.

The other two closest tallies were Obama wins in North Carolina and Indiana. While the Arizona polls might force Romney to spend money there, Silver predicts he’ll put most of his effort into making up ground in three of Obama’s biggest prizes from ’08: Florida (just a 2.8 percent win for the president); Ohio (4.6 percent); and Virginia (6.3 percent).

Twelfth Trivia

Another odd thing about the Twelfth Amendment: It makes it illegal for the president and vice president to be residents of the same state. In 2000 Dick Cheney sold his Dallas home and changed his voter registration back to Wyoming to comply. Nonetheless, three Texas voters cited the Twelfth when they challenged Cheney’s candidacy in federal court; the case was thrown out.

With residential connections to at least five states, this is a bit of a minefield for Mitt Romney, although his legal home is Massachusetts.

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