The Epitome of Low Standards and Faux Opposition


Mike Pence by Gage Skidmore from Peoria, AZ, United States of America | Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons

It was a dramatic moment. Members of the Federalist Society, one of the most prominent Republican judicial organizations in the country, listened with anticipation as former Vice President Mike Pence gave a stunning pronouncement: “President Trump is wrong… I had no right to overturn the election.” It was a powerful and direct rebuttal of Trump’s claim that Pence could, in fact, overturn the election, and Pence himself said it. It was so significant that numerous outlets promoted the moment for nearly a week, with magazines like The Week even drawing attention to the statement. The Wall Street Journal declared it Pence’s “finest hour.” Really? While some would like to elevate Pence for his sudden opposition to Trump, he does not deserve any of it. I refuse to engage in this ridiculous lie. From the very beginning, Pence has been a coward who is hellbent on gaining power for himself while standing for nothing. His recent statements against Trump do nothing to change this.

It is easy to ignore Pence. For much of his time in the White House, he was an accessory to Trump’s circus – an extension of the show but never the show itself. It was not too surprising. Pence was largely chosen for his connections to the Evangelical Right, not his political positions. Of course, Pence did have some political influence that could impact Trump, as well. But beyond that, Pence was never seen as a boundary-breaker of any kind.

It is not hard to see why. For much of his pre-Trump career, Pence was the typical Republican politician. He supported restrictions on abortion, readily endorsed privatizing public education, and attacked LGBTQ rights. For all intents, he was the embodiment of the Republican stereotype. But there were signs of his inner weakness that presented themselves on occasion. During his time as governor of Indiana, Pence signed the so-called Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which asserted that the government would not have the power to force a person in Indiana to do something against their religion. On paper, that sounded great – but the context that the law omitted was that said protections would allow a religious person to avoid serving a person based on their sexuality. And it was on this front that Pence showed his cowardice.

When confronted by CNN’s George Stephanopoulos about the meaning of the law, Pence was asked six times whether the law allowed individuals to discriminate against LGBTQ people. Pence dodged the issue six times.

And that, dear reader, was the core point of Mike Pence’s presence in the White House and government. Whether it was saying nothing about the child separation policy that Trump instituted or turning a blind eye to the multiple sexual assault allegations against Trump, Pence was complicit in the corruption and rot that Trump brought to the White House. And even after Trump was defeated and he began to claim that the election was stolen, Pence remained a complicit element in the lies that Trump wrought.

The Trump administration’s own records show that Pence knew nearly everything Trump was planning in his failed bid to overturn the election. Only when it was his life and career that was threatened did Pence show any serious resistance to Trump. Only when Trump supporters began calling for him to be hanged and the Capitol was attacked did Pence truly break with Trump. And even then, it would take 13 months for Pence to explicitly and publicly call out the lie that he could overturn the election.

Despite his attempts to rebrand himself, Pence has proven to be nothing more than a selfish and cowardly actor who could not be bothered to oppose the rot that overtook the GOP in 2016. Defending America’s constitutional order is not a sign of virtue; it is a basic expectation of all public servants. Pence and other Republicans do not get a mulligan merely because they are ditching a man they can no longer use for their political agenda. If anything, they allowed Trump to rise to power, and all of us paid the price. The American people deserve better than to have their intelligence insulted by Pence and his ilk. America deserves better political leadership, and until the GOP manages to provide that leadership through serious, long-term reform, the only thing they deserve is the public’s scorn.