Trading Trump for Pence: A Raw Deal

President Donald Trump must go, that much is clear. But if and when he does go, would we be jumping from the frying pan into the fire with President Mike Pence? That seems to be the case

If it wasn’t immediately obvious last summer when he accepted his role, by now we’ve definitely figured out Mike Pence’s long game. He wants to be President of the United States, and if there were ever a President likely not to finish their term, it’s Donald J. Trump. It’s been a month, and the administration is a raging dumpster fire. The President’s approval is in the 40s, the courts have halted his executive order, Michael Flynn is out, leakers are embarrassing the administration, members of Trump’s inner circle are under investigation, and progressives are storming town halls in mass opposition to the Trump agenda. According to the betting markets, the odds of a Trump impeachment before July are 6:1 and the odds of him not finishing the year are even better.

This might seem like a victory for progressives, and it is, if one’s only concern is removing Trump from power. However, beware of Greeks bearing gifts. If it seems suspicious that so many republicans during the campaign were ready to dump Trump in favor of Pence, and even today don’t seem especially opposed to impeachment, that’s because it is suspicious.

Conservatives weren’t clamoring for Pence because he’s a champion of progressive values and would counter the Trump agenda. The GOP, no matter how many times they send John McCain on Meet the Press, does not actually have any complaints about Trump’s positions. 88% support the muslim ban, 83% support building a border wall, and 76% want to repeal the affordable care act. The complaint isn’t even that Trump is unstable, it’s that he causes the party to look bad and his mere presence in the executive mansion makes destructive policies harder to pass. So republicans are at an impasse, they finally have both chambers of Congress, but not a President they can work with, what to do?

Enter Mike Pence, who makes Ronald Reagan look like a Bolshevik.

If you’d like to imagine what a Pence America would look like, look no further than his voting record in the house or his governorship in Indiana.

Reproductive rights

Pence voted against a bill that would’ve expanded stem cell research, which would’ve saved the lives of thousands of people but, as Pence says, “I’m a Christian, Conservative, and Republican in that order,” not necessarily human. Before the fake Planned Parenthood tape was released by anti-choice advocates in 2015, way back in 2011, Pence was already sponsoring bills to defund the organization, which is the largest provider of reproductive health services in America. Not to be outdone, when he was governor, Pence signed a bill into law that imposed liability for wrongful death on doctors who perform an abortion based on disability, and requires the burial or cremation of fetuses, and banned fetal tissue donation. The law never went into effect thanks to the Supreme Court, but Mike Pence certainly thought it would, and that’s what matters. The most troubling thing about Pence isn’t what he did, but what he said, specifically last September when he said “I want to live to see the day that…we send Roe v. Wade to the ash heap of history.” That isn’t a new idea in the GOP, but this is the first time the party is in a position to roll back 40 years of precedent through appointing new justices to the Supreme Court.

LGBTQ+ Rights

The first time many of us were introduced to Mike Pence was in March of 2015, when as governor he signed the so-called “Religious Freedom Restoration Act”. The law allowed for business owners to refuse service to gay customers if doing so would violate their religious beliefs. The backlash to the bill was so forceful, that Pence was forced to sign a bill intended to provide protections for LGBT customers, employees and tenants. In 2007, Pence voted against the Employee Non-Discrimination Act, a non-controversial law that would’ve prevented job discrimination based on sexual orientation. Then there’s the matter of Pence opposing almost every bill proposed that would’ve made prosecuting hate crimes more efficient and supporting public funding of conversion therapy.

The Environment

Again, Pence’s actions like voting to bar the EPA from regulating greenhouse gases and allowing offshore drilling in Alaska are bad enough. But here’s a quote taken from his 2000 campaign website.

Global warming is a myth….Here’s the deal. Environmentalists claim that certain ‘greenhouse gases’ like carbon dioxide are mucking up the atmosphere and causing the earth to gradually warm. Despite the fact that CO2 is a naturally occurring phenomenon in nature, the Greenpeace folks want to blame it all on coal (another natural mineral) and certain (evil) coal burning power plants. The theory is; get rid of the (evil) coal burning plants and we save the planet from imminent doom…the earth is actually cooler today than it was about 50 years ago. In fact, most climatologists agree that, at best, global warming is a theory about future climatic conditions and cannot be proven based upon the historic record.

Yes, that’s really real.

General Awfulness

Mike Pence is literally so horrible, that to detail his 16-year-long career of disservice and distasteful quotes could end up filling several volumes of an encyclopedia. So here are some things said and done by the Vice President that he, without a doubt, would qualify as “small potatoes”.

  • Allowed an HIV outbreak to happen in Indiana because he’s morally opposed to needle exchanges
  • Following the Paris attack, Pence banned Syrian refugees from entering Indiana. So much for Hoosier Hospitality.
  • In 2000, he said “Despite the hysteria from the political class and the media, smoking doesn’t kill.”
  • He also said “Young women find young men to be attractive sexually. Put them together, in close quarters, for long periods of time, and things will get interesting … Moral of the story: women in military, bad idea.”

Mike Pence is not our knight in shining armor, coming to whisk away from the horrors of the Trump presidency. The question comes down to, what’s more dangerous; a toddler with a gun or a marksman with a gun? Yes Donald Trump is corrupt, yes Donald Trump’s economic policies are deeply flawed, yes Donald Trump is a bigot, and yes he’s so uniquely horrible it’s like conservatives made him in a lab. But so is Mike Pence, except he’s capable, competent, and conservative. That’s scary.