Why Mike Pence's re-election is just as dangerous as a second Trump term

Joanna Taylor
Sunday 27 September 2020 13:15
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( Sara D. Davis / Getty Images )

US vice president Mike Pence tends to stay out of the spotlight.

Unlike Trump, Pence rarely dominates headlines by making outrageous and attention-grabbing statements; in fact, he generally seems to avoid them altogether unless he's parroting the party line.

Pence seems to have found that working quietly behind the scenes to further the interests of Tea Party Republicans and evangelical Christians is the most effective way of wielding his power within the Trump administration.

But just because he's usually more calculating, that doesn't make him any less dangerous than Donald Trump.

Here's just 7 of the damaging things Pence has done and said over the last four years.

1. Met with homophobic and transphobic groups

Earlier this year, Mike Pence addressed Focus on the Family, a fundamentalist Christian group that has described homosexuality as "a particularly evil lie of Satan".

He commented:

This president believes that no American, no American, should have to violate their conscience to fully participate in American life, and he has taken action to protect the expressions of faith by men and women across this nation.

He has also spoken at a church service during which a bishop referred to homosexuality as being caused by a "demonic spirit".

On top of this, reports characterise Pence as having played a major part in Trump's ban of trans people serving in the military. The widely contested ban put almost 15,000 jobs at risk.

2. Persuaded Trump to ban sending foreign aid to groups that offer abortion services

Until Trump addressed protesters at the annual March for Life, the biggest anti-abortion rally in America, Pence was the highest ranking US official ever to do so.

He is vehemently anti-abortion and has helped to centre anti-choice rhetoric in Trump's government and election campaigns.

One of Trump's first acts as president in 2017 was to reinstate the 'Mexico City Policy', a ban on sending federal funding to services offering abortion services or counselling overseas.

Pence successfully lobbied for the ban, which had previously been lifted by Obama, to be reinstated.

3. Said he won't dine alone with a woman who isn't his wife

It's difficult to begin to explain how ridiculously backwards this is.

In 2017, Pence really sparked a debate among conservatives about whether or not it's ever appropriate for men to dine with women they're not married to. The implications that men can't control their sexual urges around women and that women aren't worthy of friendships with men are staggeringly sexist.

The revelation raised serious questions about the White House's attitude towards women and how welcome they really are in the Republican political sphere.

4. Claimed that Joe Biden and Kamala Harris want to take away America's meat

Of all the Trump administration's scaremongering tactics, implying that the Democrats want to enforce mandatory vegetarianism has to be one of the weirdest.

At a campaign rally earlier this year, Pence said:

Senator Harris said that she would change the dietary guidelines of this country to reduce the amount of red meat Americans can eat.

Well I've got some red meat for you. We're not going to let Joe Biden and Kamala Harris cut America's meat.

...what?

5. Refused to say "Black Lives Matter", insisting that "all lives matter"

In the wake of George Floyd's murder, Pence repeatedly refused to say "Black Lives Matter" in an interview on US television. He instead insisted that "all lives matter" and even seemed to imply that racism isn't a problem in America.

When the interviewer explained that the phrase Black Lives Matter is "an acknowledgement that Black lives also matter at a time in this country when it appears that there's a segment of our society that doesn't agree", Pence retorted:

Well, I don't accept the fact that there's a segment of American society that disagrees, in the preciousness and importance of every human life.

6. Tried to block Medicaid for all

In 2014, as Democrat-led states began implementing expanded Medicaid (a programme designed to help people on low incomes afford healthcare) under Obama's Affordable Care Act, Indiana governor Mike Pence developed a programme of his own.

The 'Health Indiana Plan 2.0' forced low income adults above the poverty level to pay monthly premiums for their healthcare. People could be disenrolled for six months if they failed to pay on time, and people who did pay the premiums received more health benefits than people living in poverty who didn't.

The Trump administration also made several harmful changes to Medicaid and has vowed to abolish it altogether. When confronted about this by a doctor earlier this year, Pence tried to pretend he wasn't aware of it.

7. Denied the reality of climate change

Last year, shortly after Trump rolled back Obama's Clean Power Plan, Pence repeatedly refused to admit that climate change is a threat.

He instead tried to claim that "America has the cleanest air and water in the world" (it doesn't) and the US is "seeing a significant reduction in carbon emissions" (it isn't).

Pence is a long-time climate sceptic: In 2001 he described global warming as a "myth". He also refused to implement the Green Power Plan in Indiana in 2015.

Pence is often characterised as the man who makes Trump's fiery and erratic style of politics more palatable to traditional conservatives. Either that, or he just disappears into the shadows completely.

But a vote for Trump in November is also a vote for Pence and the kind of policy he lobbies for.

And clearly that should concern us just as much as another Trump ticket.

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