Well, if there is anyone in America still wondering what the 2016 election is all about — and those people seem to exist, though I can’t imagine how — Donald Trump’s all-but-official choice for vice president, Mike Pence, governor of Indiana, ought to nudge them toward making up their minds.
Pence is Trump’s Christian Soldier, the man Trump hopes will march with him onward to the White House. Pence has called himself “a Christian, a conservative, and a Republican, in that order.” The Indiana governor is the guy who last year vigorously defended a state law designed to allow Hoosier businessmen to express their contempt for gays and lesbians, provided they could gin up a religion-based justification. The law’s immediate effect was to cost Indiana millions, as large corporations — which have learned the gays-are-employees-and-customers lesson so elusive to Republican leaders — scrambled for the exits.
Pence also signed one of the most draconian anti-abortion laws in the country, one that would force a woman who had an abortion to pick out a little Twinkie-sized mahogany coffin to bury her aborted fetus in or pay for cremation, her choice.
Mike Pence! Not a lot of ambiguity there. Do I sound gleeful? Honestly, I’m disappointed. I was pulling for Newt Gingrich as the sentimental favorite.
Gingrich would have been perfect. If our polarized, toxic, crude political world, a landscape that could spawn a Donald Trump, GOP Presidential Candidate, isn’t entirely his fault, then his was among the strongest shoves in this direction.
After the Republicans swept Congress in 1994, Gingrich distributed a memo offering a particular word to be used, whenever possible, to identify Democrats: “traitors.”
So though there would have been a beautiful, come-full-circle quality to adding Gingrich to the ticket, Gingrich will have to settle for secretary of education: it was he who suggested that schools fire their union janitors and hire Dickensian waifs to scrub the floor instead.
Gingrich also was married three times, and the prospect of a six-wife ticket prompted Trump to choose Pence. As much as die-hard evangelical leaders have been embracing Trump, the fear is that the rank and file just won’t turn out for a man who is on the record supporting both a transgendered woman’s right to use whatever bathroom she pleases and a woman’s right to have an abortion.
When it comes to women, Pence is practically a one-man “Game of Thrones.” We haven’t even discussed his stint as a congressman, trying to yank all federal funding away from Planned Parenthood or end tax breaks for insurers who cover abortion.
Pence also inoculates Trump against the charge of being too friendly to gays, with his career of continual opposition to gay rights. In his 12 years in Congress, Pence was against their serving openly in the military. He pushed for a Constitutional amendment forbidding gay marriage.
Let’s not forget Pence’s non-gender based votes. He was against the bank bailout. He opposed No Child Left Behind.
Sure, the vice president is moot. Studies show the VP doesn’t really boost a candidate in the actual election. And when Trump is the presidential candidate, well, the question of who he picks for vice president is sort of like deciding what wallpaper you want around you in Hell — not insignificant but also beside the point. Whether lighthouse motif or kittens, you’re still roasting in flame for all eternity.
Still, the VP has symbolic value. That is what Trump is hoping. An engraved invitation to those who view America through God’s keyhole to ignore the rest of the Trump carnival. Though the symbolic sword cuts both ways. Those former Bernie Bros still complaining that Hillary Clinton hasn’t come around regarding fracking, or whatever, need to stand up, rub their eyes and look hard at Mike Pence. This is serious.
Though frankly, Trump could have named Thomas Jefferson as his running mate and it wouldn’t have mattered much, as long as Trump is still at the head of the ticket.