Editorial: Tom Vilsack deserves higher position


Photo: Kelsey Kremer/Iowa State

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack introduces Vice President Joe Biden to the audience on Thursday, March 1, in the Howe Hall atrium.

Editorial Board

Tom Vilsack has made quite the climb from where he started out. Vilsack was an orphan in Pittsburgh, Pa., and was adopted in 1951. He got his bachelor’s degree from Hamilton College and went to Albany Law School. It was not until he met his wife Christie that he moved to Mount Pleasant, Iowa. Vilsack has been mayor of Mount Pleasant, a state senator, the governor of Iowa and is currently the secretary of the Department of Agriculture.

The interesting part is what could lie ahead for Vilsack. Some Democrats have begun floating Vilsack’s name around for vice president for the 2016 elections. The current vice president, Joe Biden — who is one of Vilsack’s most well-known supporters — told the Des Moines Register that Vilsack was one of the stars of the Cabinet.

Vilsack seems to be a deserving candidate, considering his time as secretary of the USDA. “One of his main topics is to strengthen rural America by investing in critical infrastructure such as homes, fire stations, water systems and health clinics that will create jobs and improve the quality of life for rural residents,” according to Vilsack’s White House profile.

The USDA has supported struggling farmers and ranchers in the United States and has provided food aid to one in four Americans while helping provide jobs and help grow the economy. The way that Vilsack has been running the USDA is a good example of how more of the government should be run. Vilsack has cut down on waste, moving from 833 cellphone contracts to only 30. He has also moved from having 17 email accounts to only one. It seems that Vilsack is making necessary cuts to keep the USDA running effectively while also reducing the unnecessary spending.

It would be nice to see a representative of Iowa and of the rural communities we have here run for vice president. Henry A. Wallace was the last Iowan to be vice president. Before that, he also was secretary of the USDA. If the Democrats nominate Vilsack as vice president, he would be following almost the exact same footsteps as Wallace. Although it would be great to have an Iowan in the vice presidential seat, it would not be the first time that Vilsack has been considered.

Vilsack was one of the potential options for John Kerry’s running mate in 2004, but Kerry made the decision to go with John Edwards, leaving Vilsack in the dust. This could be a potential worry for Vilsack going into 2016; however, he has made large changes in the USDA since 2009, such as cutting spending in his department by $1.2 billion a year.

Vilsack has not directly stated any plans for running for vice president — in fact, in most cases when it is brought up, Vilsack stays pretty humble to the idea. Vilsack is currently eighth in line for president. Why not bump it up to second? Vilsack has done a good job representing Iowa and is currently doing a fine job representing the USDA. It would be wonderful to have a candidate from Iowa who understands the rural community and can help its voice be heard.