I know. I know. Practically every week since Trump announced his candidacy, there’s been a “surely this will be the end of him” headline, and none of them ultimately amount to anything. And even now, there remains a carefully crafted narrative that his base will uphold no matter what.
And yet. This one might be different.
Things are starting to hit the fan. Even his biggest supporters in the House and Senate are starting to skulk away, with midterms on their minds. It is getting harder to make excuses for his blunders; and nearly impossible to deny to the obvious shady business surrounding Comey, ties to Russia, and now, the possible obstruction of justice related to both.
There must be a boiling point, after all. The current pace of everyday gaff and scandal is not sustainable–not even for a giant demagogue with every resource and tool of manipulation at his disposal. Whether it’s today, or next week, or a year from now, something is going to burn this thing down. And it will probably be a spark from within.
As the certainty of some game-changing revelation grows, I keep hearing the same thing from progressive circles: “But Pence is just as bad.” Or, “President Pence will be worse.”
While I get the general sentiment, he is not worse. Not even “as bad.” Is he an ideological nightmare? Sure. Would he be a friend to women, people of color, the poor, or the LGBT community? Lol, no. But he’s a far safer presence than the current resident of the Oval Office. Here’s why:
- Global relationships and diplomacy. Whatever damage he might do, policy-wise, here at home, he will not be a stage 4 cancer on America’s worldwide credibility. DJT has proven, again and again, that he doesn’t know who our friends are, doesn’t care and won’t learn how foreign policy works, and cannot keep his tiny hands off of the big red button. It is terrifying. Say what you will about Pence, but his brand of gross will not lead to this level of escalating global tension.
- Experience. “Career politician” is not always a selling point in campaign season. But I’d rather have a career politician than a zero-experience constant liability. As a seasoned politician, Pence knows about things like “optics” and “ethics.” He knows, for instance, that you cannot fill the highest positions of power with your kids and your billionaire BFF’s. He has experience, and so he will value experience in those he places around him.
- Conflicts of interest. Pence doesn’t have them. At least, not on the obvious and epic scale that Trump does, with his endless web of corporate connections and favors owed and expected.
- A Vague Awareness of Other People. Whatever I may think of his politics (terrible) or his personal beliefs (gross) he is not a complete narcissist, incapable of taking feedback or gathering input from trusted and informed sources. One of Trump’s biggest weaknesses is the utter lack of regard for what anyone else thinks, even within his own circles.
- Military Experience. He has some. So maybe he’d be a little less likely to send our children off to a conflict without thoroughly plotting a path in and out, and discerning the consequences.
- Family. I’m just guessing that a guy who will not eat a meal alone with another woman, would not be too wild about the idea of living apart from his wife. No more spending obscene amounts of taxpayer money to secure basically the whole city of New York, to build a secondary fortress for the First Family.
- The Private Resort Situation. To the best of my knowledge, Mike Pence does not own a resort in Florida, or elsewhere, that he would treat as his second office. Trump’s frequent travel to his vacation spots is not just concerning because of the expense; it also means he frequently takes state affairs out of the public eye. “Private” is the operative word… When the White House goes to Mar a Lago, a lot of “our” national business happens behind closed doors. Or behind the 9th tee, if you will.
- Faith. Do I agree with his theology? Hell nah. It is harmful, and I’ve expounded on that in other posts. However–it is, at least, what appears to be a more genuine faith than Trump’s “how do I work this communion cup thing” and “two Corinthians” performances that clearly pander to a certain demographic. Trump’s posturing makes a mockery, not just of a particular faith, but of faith in general. Not to mention, I’d like to think that a President who at least believes in a higher power could muster up a certain degree of humility on occasion. That’s always nice to see in a leader.
- Education. Again–Pence has some. I’m over Trump’s blatant anti-intellectualism, disregard for facts, and consistent scorn for informed and intelligent people. Pence might not have the oratory skills of Kennedy or Obama, but damn, it would be nice to hear at least a high school vocabulary when we turn on the State of the Union. I mean, let’s be real. I will settle for complete sentences at this point.
- Temperament. If nothing else, I look forward to a break from the midnight Twitter storms. It might be refreshing to live in a country that is no longer the laughing stock of the world.
- Freedom of the Press. Remember what that is? We may be stuck with the legacy of “2 Americas,” and the tension between Fox News and…well, everyone else. But Pence does not appear to have the overt animosity for the free press that puts Trump constantly at odds with them. And therefore, we might return to a somewhat stable relationship with our shared narrative.
The main thing that concerns me about Pence is that he could, in this moment, strategically position himself as the anti-Trump, and come out smelling like a rose. A hero to both conservatives and moderates, and possibly even a portion of the progressive base. It could mean a certain win for him in 2020, and unprecedented power for Christian fundamentalists in the upcoming midterms. That makes me shudder. But ultimately, his brand of damage is easier to reign in than the full-on global meltdown we face with the existing Trump administration.
Yes, Pence exhibits his own brand of racism; his own harmful kind of patriarchy; his own willful ignorance of poverty, and an overt homophobia that might set equality back a few decades. But these are all things we can fight. These are all issues that we can resist at local and state levels…provided we remain a functional democratic system. And, you know, that we don’t get blown off the map by North Korea. If we want to keep democracy in tact–and stay alive to fight another day–that means first ousting the sitting President.
The bottom line is, this would all be so much more fun to watch if there weren’t nuclear weapons involved…