For so many people, Donald Trump’s election to the White House was (is) pretty scary. In the year since, there’s been a lot of talk about his impeachment or what will happen in 2020. But when you really think about it, the outlook in those cases can be just as bleak, since several of them involve Vice President Mike Pence assuming the highest office in the land. And the truth is, Mike Pence might actually be a lot scarier than any of us realized, especially in light of a new profile on the former Indiana governor in the Atlantic this week.
The profile focused a lot on Pence’s personality and his religiosity. This is no new thing, since Pence’s religious views have been ever present in his politics. As governor of Indiana, he famously signed a bill that allowed businesses to ban LGBTQ customers in the name of “religious freedom.” Pence is so anti-choice and anti-woman that he wants to actually ban Roe v. Wade. He signed every single restrictive abortion bill that crossed his desk as governor, including ones loaded with debunked science about fetuses feeling pain and another that mandated funerals for aborted fetuses. He closed enough health clinics in the name of banning abortion that experts attribute an outbreak in new HIV cases in the state to him.
Pence also famously does not interact with women other than his wife in public, ostensibly lest he be overcome with lust or fall prey to a female guile and be seduced by someone other than his wife.
A lot of people are rightfully fearful of Mike Pence and the ideas he embodies.
The Atlantic profile sheds some more light onto who Mike Pence really is away from his political history, focusing mainly on his religious beliefs. It’s totally acceptable for a politician to find solace and some wisdom in whatever their spiritual beliefs are. But Pence brings that to an entirely different level. While Trump is terrible because he lacks empathy and loves to win at literally any cost to others, at least he largely operates in public, chipping away at any credibility he might have had once up on a time every time he tweets or speaks. He’s a very visible and very known entity.
Pence is a little creepier. For one, despite his terrible record on basically every single social issue out there while he was governor of Indiana and then a senator, his public image was dwindling when he met Trump. Anyone who’s watched Gossip Girl knows that the most menacing villains have a fall from grace and then a random comeback. He really was sort of fading away politically, especially after the “religious freedom bill” he passed in Indiana drew criticism (on both sides; evangelicals were mad he flipped on the bill eventually).
The state of his political career pre-Trump is so important to remember, since it creates a context within which the Trump campaign called and asked him if he’d like to co-sign everything Trump said and did. He needed a win when he got that call.
The fact is, this is what he signed up for.
Even before Trump was the GOP nominee for president, Pence had to have heard about his terribly un-Christian attitudes toward human beings and overall awfulness. But it didn’t matter to this “man of values,” apparently. According to Coppins:
All the polls showed that Pence was the best way to win conservative Christians. Trump’s promise to pick anti-choice Supreme Court Justices and have faith-based advisors and other vows to insert religion into policy was confirmed by Pence’s willingness to work with him. Although there were rumors that Pence was going to leave the campaign after the Access Hollywood tapes were exposed just before election day, according to this report, Pence actually considered taking over the ticket entirely. Instead, he was somehow convinced to hang on, biding his time.
Pence is the epitome of a pathetic bully’s lackey. He’s compromised his own values, as well as offending the values of people who disagree with him. That’s a crazy position to be in. When Trump needs something, he does it, whether it’s wasting taxpayer money, traveling to an NFL game just to walk out when players protest police brutality and racial equality, or being the butt of Trump’s bad jokes, Pence is on it.
A guy who won’t dine in mixed company covered for the creep who boasted about “grabbing p*ssies.” Can you imagine the ego and self-righteousness that goes along with compartmentalizing that?
According to various reports and rumors in D.C., Pence would be all about taking over for Trump or running a bid for office in 2020. Although he might have been yesterday’s news before Trump, his political career definitely has new life, especially since he’s been able to push a conservative, Christian agenda while Trump’s in office. The Department of Justice, for example, has taken the side in a Supreme Court case about “religious freedom” that would legalize LGBTQ discrimination. They’ve rolled back every single Obama-era policy that protected women and transgender people.
The thing about Mike Pence is that he looks and sounds sort of normal when compared to Trump. And the Republican party can’t hate on a guy like him who brings in the conservative donations to wage a culture war but also doesn’t mind taxing the poor to feed the rich. He’s also proven himself to be quite the team player who is good at pretending everything is normal AF even when it’s most definitely not.
Obviously, 2020 is still a ways off, and we are, unfortunately, not flies on the walls at RNC headquarters. There’s also a lot more still to inevitably come of this FBI investigation into Trump’s transition team. Pence might even be deposed. So anything can happen. But remember to be careful what you wish for when you whisper to the universe every night before bed that Trump gets impeached or that we can just fast forward to when his term is all over. Because there’s a solid chance Pence will be sticking around, which makes stacking Congress with smart people who won’t turn back the clock on civil rights and what women can do with their uteruses all the more important. If all of this sounds scary and weird, it’s because it is. And Mike Pence is a huge part of that.