Democrats would love to find a way to impeach President Trump, say if they win back Congress and the Senate in the midterm elections. But they are realizing that if President Trump were ousted, Vice President Mike Pence would take office. And though Liberals hate Donald Trump, they hate cultural and economic conservatives even more.
The notion that Pence would be worse than Trump has been a theme in Democratic impeachment talk for some time. Here is talk quoted from the New Republic:
“If Trump were impeached and convicted, Vice President Mike Pence, a right-wing, evangelical ideologue, would be a much more reliable and competent rubber stamp for the conservative policy agenda.” Jeff Alson, In These Times.
Pence is not an evangelical but a Roman Catholic. But all religious cultural conservatives get tarred by the same brush.
“While Pence clearly has more self-control and self-awareness than Trump, that’s exactly what makes him more dangerous. He has all the same ideas and goals as Trump—and, as an added bonus, a religious-right agenda that’s even worse—and a much better chance of actually implementing them.” Cliston Brown, The Observer
In other words, Pence would make an effective president, so that makes him “more dangerous” than Trump.
“Trump is more likely to blunder into a nuclear war, while Pence is more likely to push America down the road to a rigid theocracy. The worst-case scenario under Trump is the world of Mad Max, while under Pence it would be The Handmaid’s Tale.” Jeet Heer, The New Republic
The Left really does fear that Christians will impose a theocracy, as if that were possible in an increasingly secular culture and as if that were theologically desirable for more than a tiny number of Christians.
A recent article by Jane Mayer crystallizes these fears, while also raising other reasons why liberals should prefer Trump to Pence: The Danger of President Pence.
The article goes through Pence’s career, emphasizing what most New Yorker readers will view with horror, though conservative readers would be impressed: His conservative think-tank background and policy chops; his pro-life convictions; his championing religious liberty against LGBT activists.
The article also calls attention to the inevitable mistakes and controversies associated with Pence over his long career as a congressman and governor, putting the worst construction on everything.
The most disturbing part of the article, from a Christian and cultural conservative perspective, is its reports of how President Trump mocks his Vice President’s religion, his pro-life convictions, and his moral position on LGBT issues:
A staff member from Trump’s campaign recalls him mocking Pence’s religiosity. He said that, when people met with Trump after stopping by Pence’s office, Trump would ask them, “Did Mike make you pray?” Two sources also recalled Trump needling Pence about his views on abortion and homosexuality. During a meeting with a legal scholar, Trump belittled Pence’s determination to overturn Roe v. Wade. The legal scholar had said that, if the Supreme Court did so, many states would likely legalize abortion on their own. “You see?” Trump asked Pence. “You’ve wasted all this time and energy on it, and it’s not going to end abortion anyway.” When the conversation turned to gay rights, Trump motioned toward Pence and joked, “Don’t ask that guy—he wants to hang them all!”
A major theme of the article is that Pence has always been supported by the Koch brothers. Charles and David Koch are wealthy businessmen from Wichita, Kansas, who give a great deal of money to promote free market economics. Significantly, they are not religious. They are essentially libertarians.
You would think that the Koch brothers’ lack of religion–they would surely be the last to support any kind of theocracy–would reassure liberals. And that the Kochs have always supported Pence, despite his faith, would be evidence that as president he would not be a theocrat after all.
But the Kochs have become the arch-villains in liberal mythology. They are “the rich” who supposedly are out to control America by buying politicians. A belief they strangely do not apply to George Soros, the billionaire who similarly funds the left.
Throughout, the article draws on interviews with Steve Bannon, Trump’s ousted advisor: “Bannon is equally alarmed at the prospect of a Pence Presidency. He told me, ‘I’m concerned he’d be a President that the Kochs would own.'”
Bannon, the spokesman for Trump’s economic nationalism, also dislikes the Koch brothers. The Kochs, who did not support Trump, promote free market economics. Bannon and Trump promote protectionism, limits on trade, and populist limits on corporations.
It’s odd to read an overtly liberal publication that is in such agreement with Bannon, usually demonized as the Rasputin of the alt.right.
But clearly, liberals prefer the Trump/Bannon style of economic populism to the Pence/Koch allegiance to free market capitalism.
So even if the Democrats take over the Senate and the House of Representatives in the midterm elections. And even if investigators find some trumped up (sorry!) charges of wrongdoing, liberals are unlikely to impeach the President. Though they despise him, in their heart of hearts, they consider him (rightly or wrongly) closer to their policies than the thorough-going conservative Mike Pence would be.
Photo of Mike Pence by Gage Skidmore from Peoria, AZ, United States of America (Mike Pence) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons