The Quiet Danger of Mike Pence
Though Pence’s rhetoric is relatively calm compared to his running mate, his plans for America are undoubtedly devastating
The Progressive Teen Staff Writer
IN THE DAYS FOLLOWING THE ELECTION, MUCH OF THE COUNTRY’S POLITICAL DISCOURSE has been focused on President-elect Trump’s transition team, and ultimately the people who will surround him in these likely tumultuous next four years. While this speculation may resemble the drama of his campaign at large, the American people are guaranteed at least one other man in the White House this January: Mike Pence.
We have seen an actualization of many people’s fears of a Trump presidency, the surge of attacks against minorities in his name giving credence to the pandemonium they expected from a Republican-controlled government. Still, though our new president is representative of the xenophobia, misogyny, and various other ills that plague today’s America, Mike Pence represents a unique threat in his core differences from Trump. Though Trump’s campaign was defined by his lack of political knowledge, Pence’s governmental experience indicates his legislative legacy of intolerance, but also his understanding of how to bring hateful proposals to national fruition.
IN MANY WAYS, PENCE IS LIKE TRUMP IN THE MORALS they indicated on the campaign trail. During a CNN interview, for instance, Pence was questioned about Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke’s support for the Republican candidate, followed by the interviewer asking Pence if he would call his endorsement as “deplorable.” Though he did not directly support a member of one of the nation’s most infamous hate groups, he refused to use names to condemn perpetrators of systemic racial hatred. These ethical inconsistencies are not singular; while Pence’s views as the Governor of Indiana were not as entertaining as new stories as Trump’s hideous comments about women, he is no less misogynistic. Instead, he has entertained the campaign’s toxic rhetoric, complicit in its inherent violence.
Pence’s seemingly understated bigotry presents a nuanced danger: his being less brash than Trump means that it becomes easier to normalize the hatred he supports. His time in politics has been devastating for female rights, specifically because he possesses an obsession with defunding Planned Parenthood that has spanned decades. In spite of the organization actively saving lives, he used his political influence to delay essential bills for worldwide health crises like the Zika virus in order to expedite his own agenda. As Governor of Indiana, he enforced deliberate measures to shut down a rural Planned Parenthood in Scott County, simultaneously ridding of the only HIV testing center in the county; by 2015, they experienced a severe HIV outbreak because of his extremist anti-choice ideologies. In Congress, he sponsored legislation to give “personhood” rights to fertilized eggs, which would ban any abortion, some forms of contraception, and eliminate women’s reproductive rights almost entirely. In addition to denying women the right to their own bodies, he cut one million dollars from domestic-violence programs as governor, while also decreasing funding for higher education.
Pence has been equally devastating for the LGBTQ+ community, his policies actively denying non-heterosexual Americans their rights, dignity and humanity. He often evokes religion as his rationale, saying for over a decade that preventing gay marriage is an enforcement of “God’s idea.” He voted against the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, supporting a workplace’s right to discriminate against workers on the basis of sexual orientation; favored the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell military policy that prohibited military personnel from identifying as gay; and rejected Barack Obama’s directives on gender-inclusive bathrooms. Even from a sheer economic standpoint, his allegedly “Christian” beliefs cost his state as much as $60 million due to his pushing a bill to allow workplace prejudice against LGBTQ+ people.
His mainstream Republican policies have been equally far-reaching in their pandemonium, spanning the realm of social issues and beyond. He voted for the Iraq War, mandated prayer in schools, supported creationism as public school curriculum, spoke out against the 1991 Civil Rights Act, and has an A rating from the NRA. Looking at his legislature as a whole, Pence represents the Republican regression that Democrats have fought so hard to prevent, as they have historically stripped Americans of their individual rights.
MIKE PENCE’S PAST IS TERRIFYING, BUT WHAT IS EVEN MORE DAUNTING is the damage he could do as Vice President. With a new national platform, the rhetoric both he and Donald Trump implement when talking about these issues will present new hurdles for already marginalized groups to overcome.
I, and many of those who have been paying attention to his political decisions, understand their disastrous effects. Nevertheless, I believe that our government will never have more power than the common man, and that grassroots organizing in prevention of his policies is necessary. For the protection of the historically oppressed, salvation of our planet, and so much more, we will continue to march forward.