Trumps steadies himself on this GOP Pillar. Illustrator: Aleksandra Krasutskaya
Despite his bravado, Trump needs support from traditional Republicans; hence the choice of Mike Pence who has conservative credentials and actual experience in politics. Indiana newspapers have been touting the native son, and the Terre Haute Tribune-Star headlined an editorial “Pence takes the high road.” The subhead claimed our soon to be ex-governor now “ascends to the role of GOP unifier” which to us suggests a figure of Biblical proportions.
Pence proudly publicizes his evangelical Christianity, so this could be apt. However, the Republicans have been unusually ambiguous about their embrace of religious politicians recently.
At the convention, when Ted Cruz, the former candidate who expected to appeal to the principles of conservative Christians, advised Republicans to vote their conscience, he was booed. You would have thought he’d said transgendered people should be allowed to use any bathroom they wanted. * Surely, it’s significant that everyone immediately leapt to the conclusion that he meant no one could in good conscience vote for Trump.
The Tribune editorial highlighted the contrast between Cruz and his villainy and how “Pence played unifier… [and] enthusiastically claimed Republicans were united behind Trump.” Pence needed a new venue for unity what with yard signs around Indiana saying: Expel Pence, Fire Pence, Repeal Pence and Pence Must Go.
The editors chose interesting verbs: played and claimed. Why, those might indicate Pence’s actions were something other than genuine. As in the way actors play a role and criminals claim they are innocent. Could those liberal journalists be slipping in some snarky attitude?
The editorial says: “Pence filled the role of humble Hoosier answering his party’s call to service… dutifully endorsed his new running mate, putting aside his voluminous list of stances that significantly clash with those of the erratic Trump.” (Emphasis added) Here’s a clear reference to acting, not actually being humble or serving his party. Plus, this shows Pence in the same light as Nazi party officials who were just doing their duty.
Further contradicting how sincere the motivation of humility and serving others is, the Tribune editorial says, “Pence has long desired a job in the White House…”
Ah ha! Ambitious and self-serving all along! This hardly seems to describe the high road alluded to in the headline.
The sentence continues “but [he] gave up aspirations of running for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination after he mishandled as governor a religious freedom law last year, triggering a national backlash.” (Emphasis added again)
Well, mishandling issues is something the Trump campaign already knows how to do, so Pence hasn’t added anything to the party there. Though the editors phrase it as entirely an issue of religion, Pence clearly took a stand opposing gay rights. Do Republican operatives think the national backlash will work in their favor with Pence portrayed as a victim of “political correctness” and the “gay agenda”?
Why did Pence back away from a law that had already been passed? Apparently, he couldn’t put principle before profit. He caved to corporate interests. And the fact that *Donald Trump publicly invited Caitlin (formerly Bruce) Jenner to use any bathroom in TRUMP Tower didn’t prevent Pence, who balked at the same bathroom guideline when it came from the Department of Education, from taking the number two spot when offered. His Christian-based belief on the issue is strangely flexible.
Pence’s moral stance on negative campaigning is similarly fluid. He publicly disavowed the tactic after it failed to work for him in a 1990 Congressional race.
In an essay, published in the Indiana Policy Review, Pence wrote: “A campaign ought to demonstrate the basic human decency of the candidate.”
Did he think he could inject this philosophy into his run with Trump? Hope arose when we saw the headline Mike Pence: Politics is No Place for Name-Calling. Alas, Pence was critical only of President Obama.
Many sources on Pence’s background quote him saying he is “a Christian, a conservative and a Republican, in that order.”
It looks as if the opportunity to “ascend” to national politics has caused him to reorder his priorities.
Not to worry though; he’s still, above all, a pillar of the Republican Party.