In Defense of Pence

Why Mike Pence Would Be Better for the Presidency

Alana Campbell, Opinions Editor

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Over the past few weeks, following the uncovering of Donald Trump’s controversial call with Ukranian President Volodymyr Zelensky, serious discussions of impeachment have ramped up. The House of Representatives has officially opened an investigation into Trump’s repeated requests for Zelensky to look into 2020 presidential hopeful Joe Biden, which could potentially amount to a formal vote for impeachment.

While it’s very unlikely that the Republican Senate would vote to indict and remove Trump from office, the possibility of a Pence Presidency is more likely now than ever. Liberals have expressed this as a negative thing. They point to Pence’s record on LGBTQ and reproductive rights as governor of Indiana and believe that his political experience as a five-term congressman would make him more dangerous than our current president as he could more swiftly execute the Republican agenda. However, it’s Trump’s divisive rhetoric, complete dishonesty, and moral corruptness that has not only ruined this country’s political discourse but degraded our democratic institutions and the office of the Presidency. Pence, despite his very conservative policy stances, would bring a more traditional approach to the office that would eliminate distractions and scandals and allow us to focus our attention on what really matters: policy.

What makes Trump dangerous, not only to our country’s political environment but also to our democracy, is his populist platform. A populist is a politician who appeals to the interests of regular people and their struggle against elite groups, and while that definition doesn’t seem negative, it excludes the damage that governments run by populists typically inflict. According to researchers at The Atlantic, populist governments lead to increased corruption and are four times more likely to cause damage to democratic institutions. To remain in power, populists delegitimize their opposition often by lying to their citizens, something that Trump has done countless times not just in tweets but official press conferences. Pence, during his multiple gubernatorial campaigns, did not rely on populism but rather experience and conservative values. While Trump’s populist rhetoric has hurt the political atmosphere in this country already, it’s caused a lot more damage to the general discourse. In fact, the FBI reports that hate crimes increased 17% from 2016 to 2017 alone and politically-motivated mass shootings increased since he took office. His anti-immigrant and far-right rhetoric has further polarized the political parties as well. Pence, is much more reserved and rarely makes bold statements unprovoked.

The danger of Trump’s populist rhetoric is only amplified by his proclivity to lie to voters on everything from where his father was born to the effectiveness of his immigration plan. Politifact, a Pulitzer Prize-winning fact-checking website, has profiles on both Pence and Trump and, though Pence is no stranger to bending the truth and misrepresenting the data, he’s a much less prolific liar than Trump. Out of Pence’s 50 statements recorded on the site, less than half were labeled “False,” compared to 70% of Trump’s 720 statements on the site. Some of the President’s lies are due to complete ignorance, but just as many are intentional misrepresentations of the truth to manipulate the American people into thinking he’s doing a better job than he actually is. Both of these are dangerous for their own reasons, including fueling the “fake news” epidemic as well as degrading values of truth and honesty within our society.

Trump’s volatility is one of his many character traits that have led to a scandal-ridden administration. After three years, he’s surpassed the total turnover of the past five presidents in their entire first terms, with a large number of the exists being voluntary resignations. Conversely, Pence kept the same Chief of Staff for 12 years while he was a congressman, governor, and for the first few months of his vice presidency. With a more level-headed leader like him, the White House wouldn’t constantly be in such disarray. Possibly the worst aspect of Trump’s volatility and unpredictability is his propensity to tweet controversial things every day. While the majority of his tweets are petulant and inflammatory, news outlets can’t ignore them because they’re coming from the leader of the free world, so they subsequently must devote entire segments to fact-checking and analyzing them. Such a heavy focus on tweets often distracts from Trump’s many harmful executive orders and downright corrupt practices. When you look at Pence’s twitter, it’s a breath of fresh air in comparison, and the normalcy of a Pence presidency would almost force news outlets to spend time on analyzing actual policy.

The probability of a Pence Presidency may be unlikely, but it’s still important to recognize aspects of the Trump administration that are harmful to our country. It’s not just his far right views, but the polarizing language he uses to spread them. It’s not just that he tweets, but the inflammatory nature of them and how they envelop our news coverage. It’s not just that he lies, but how often and the effects these lies have. He has done almost irreparable damage to this country and we can’t get rid of him soon enough.