The Very Scary Mike Pence

The former vice-president has been making the media tour these past several days, touting his new book So Help Me God and sticking his toe in the water for a possible run for the presidency. His appearance in those media events reflects the nature of the man—somber, speaking in controlled low tones, and wearing a dark gray suit. He didn’t once crack a smile (ABC interview) nor did he show any emotion, although when asked about his feelings regarding Trump’s inciting remarks during the January 6 insurrection that he lacked courage, he did duck his head briefly before changing the subject.

We were left to assume he became emotional over the betrayal by his commander in chief. Instead, he seemed an automaton, not truly human but rather a creation of his own religious obsession.

While we can be thankful that his determination to “do the right thing” prevented him from aiding Trump’s attempt to overturn the 2020 election, that same determination drives Pence toward goals that violate the freedoms of Americans. Just because he kissed Trump’s ass for four years then refused his last most important command doesn’t mean he has given up his religious beliefs.

Never forget. Mike Pence is an extremist evangelical, modeled on the Pilgrim mindset that God reigns in all things. His interpretation of God’s rules bears closer examination if we are to understand exactly how well he fit into Trump’s presidency. He, not Trump, attracted the votes of the many evangelical voters responsible for Trump’s election. Finally, evangelicals had a man who shared their point of view on virtually every issue.

Pence has repeatedly fought against abortion rights and has pursued all possible channels to block financial support for any entity which provides abortions. He has criticized sex education and supports promotion of abstinence. He has also voiced opposition to embryonic stem cell research. He supported the overturn of Roe v Wade but when asked in the 2020 vice presidential debate what he would do if it was overturned, he refused to endorse criminalizing abortion—yet another example of his fishtailing in the face of reality.

Pence is staunchly anti-LGBT rights. He has opposed non-discrimination legislation and allowing gays to openly serve in the military. He opposes same sex marriage and civil unions.

Pence has proposed a flat federal tax rate, opposed the auto industry bailout of 2008-09, and voted against raising the federal minimum wage from $5.15/hour to $7.35.

Voting against the Medicare Part D that helped provide prescription drug coverage, Pence continues to reveal his lack of medical knowledge with such assertions as “smoking doesn’t kill.” He came out firmly against needle exchange programs as a method of decreasing spread of AIDS.

Pence is opposed to the birthright citizenship policy wherein children born in the United States to non-citizens automatically become citizens. He also promoted an immigration plan that would have increased border security and implemented strict enforcement of laws against hiring undocumented immigrants.

Pence supported a 2005 plan to partially privatize Social Security but since has backed away from any specific plan, saying only that cuts to Social Security would need everyone at the table.

After many years of denying that human activity is the primary driver of climate change, in 2016 Pence stated that there was no doubt the human activity “affects” the climate. Despite this equivocation, “While in the House, Pence ’voted to eliminate funding for climate education programs and to prohibit the Environmental Protection Agency from regulating greenhouse gas emissions.’ Pence also ‘repeatedly voted against energy efficiency and renewable energy funding and rules’ and voted ‘for several bills that supported fossil fuel development, including legislation promoting offshore drilling.’”[1]

Pence is a hardliner on drugs, protesting any steps to decrease penalties for low-level marijuana offenses. He worked to reinstate mandatory minimum sentences for drug crimes. He supports federal restrictions on online gambling.

Mike Pence has been one of the most public voices in asserting that ‘All Lives Matter’ rather than supporting the understanding that ‘Black Lives Matter’ addresses specific problems faced by formerly enslaved people. He supported the Citizens United ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court which allowed corporations to act as individuals in donating to political campaigns. He supported the impeachment of President Bill Clinton.

Pence imagines himself as an upright Christian man, what an observer might consider as ‘smug’ in his satisfaction with his rigid stance on all the above-named issues. His primary role in the Trump White House was to uphold the pretense of religiosity that kept evangelical Christians firmly in support of Trump while simultaneously ignoring Trump’s many and repeated violations of the Ten Commandments and common decency. Pence was willing to scorch his coattails with his proximity to Trump because he, like so many other evangelicals, believed that their conservative agenda would be fulfilled through the presidency of a ‘flawed vessel.’ In their view, God made Trump president largely because Pence was there quietly steering policy toward a Christian nation.

Whether or not Pence seeks the Republican nomination for president, his dogmatic stance on so many important issues is not his alone. Rather, he epitomizes the increasingly familiar face of the Republican Party as one of extremist religious objectives. In embracing his faith, Pence (and others like him) plod toward the seditious goal of enforcing Christianity in U.S. laws and policies.

The entire extremist belief system Pence embraces ignores the reality of our evolution as humans, moving toward greater knowledge and understanding of processes that previously seemed magical, from the hand of God. As our scientific advancements allow us to develop vaccines against viruses, travel in motor vehicles, and interact with people anywhere in the world via the Internet, we gain greater opportunity and willingness to improve human life in every way. We are learning every day to become more humane, more tolerant. Yet despite appreciating the benefits of these technological advancements (pretty sure Pence uses a cell phone and the Internet), the collateral expansion of understanding and tolerance escapes the evangelical.

The deal Pence and his fellow religionists have made with God is a simple quid pro quo. We’ll do everything we can to force people to see it our way and in return, God will grant us a place at his right hand in Heaven. This magical thinking follows in a direct line from the most primitive religious practices wherein sacrifices were made to a god in order to improve some aspect of existence—fewer earthquakes, the withdrawal of enemy troops, release from slavery, relief of illness, et cetera ad infinitum. Sacrifice of pleasure, of our most valuable foods or assets, even of our children, has been the key element of religion.[2] Whatever has been a trial upon human life was within the power of a god to mitigate if only the people could hit on the best method of pleasing that god.

While the Constitution of the United States assures that church and state are to remain entirely separate, written as it was by those who knew the history of unending wars caused by religion, the evangelicals of our country either choose to ignore or ignorantly second guess the basis and importance of this provision. They will not stop their attempts to make the nation a manifestation of Christianity. The appearance of decency and patriotic intent in Pence’s refusal to grant Trump his wish to overturn the 2020 election is a throw-away relic of Pence’s true motivation, which was and remains his ‘duty’ to do right, thereby pleasing his god.


[1] This quote and much of the preceding information gleaned from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mike_Pence

[2] It can be argued that Christianity is itself a carryover of primitive death cults whose sacrifices ensured God’s benevolence. The crucifixion of Christ and the practice of communion in which the faithful partake of bread and wine as symbols of Christ’s body and blood is a direct link to the ancient belief that a life had to be sacrificed in order to please the god.

3 Comments

  1. Good article about a scary guy. I am trying to think of a venue to publish it. You could try at the Democrat Gazette as an op ed if it’s under 800 words. Probably a red flag to most of their readers. Still, Brenda Looper, the Voices editor, is pretty open.

    Reply

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