— Jessica Valenti (@JessicaValenti) October 16, 2017
In a world where politics are increasingly polarized, it makes sense that we’d pay more attention to the loudmouths and blowhards than we do to those who are more reserved and quiet in their delivery. However, it is precisely those people to whom we should be paying the most attention, because they are the most likely to further a hateful, hurtful agenda right under our noses.
This week’s issue of The New Yorker features a piece charting Vice President Mike Pence’s rise to his current position, called “The Danger of President Pence.” It specifically addresses those, on both sides of the aisle, who see Pence as a “better,” more “level-headed” alternative to Trump as they contemplate impeachment by saying no, on the contrary. Pence would be much, much worse, not only because of what he believes, or because of his already horrible track record as Governor of Indiana, but because of those to whom he is beholden.
Pence is still sexist, racist, and homophobic. And he always has been.
The New Yorker recounts Pence’s time as Governor of Indiana and his path through Congress to Trump’s White House: a period that started with high hopes for Pence but, because of his political opportunism, ended with his practically being a pariah among conservatives, dashing his clear hopes for the highest office in the land and leaving joining the Trump ticket as his last, best chance at the national stage.
The problem isn’t that his beliefs ever shifted. Rather, he’s such a True Believer, and he’s so far right that he’s even further right than other politicians on the right. He will fight to the death for the rights of corporations and businesses, but has no qualms about throwing marginalized groups of people under the bus. So, Pence will break ranks with Republicans when, in his estimation, they’re not going far enough. What are they not going far enough about? Wanting to make women and the LGBTQIA community third-class citizens, for starters. The New Yorker reports:
Even as Pence argued for less government interference in business, he pushed for policies that intruded on people’s private lives. In the early nineties, he joined the board of the Indiana Family Institute, a far-right group that supported the criminalization of abortion and campaigned against equal rights for homosexuals. And, while Pence ran the Indiana Policy Review Foundation, it published an essay arguing that unmarried women should be denied access to birth control. “What these people are really after is contraceptives,” Vi Simpson, the former Democratic minority leader of the Indiana State Senate, told me. In 2012, after serving twenty-eight years in the legislature, she ran for lieutenant governor on a ticket with the gubernatorial candidate John R. Gregg, who lost the election to Pence. Simpson believes that Pence wants to reverse women’s economic and political advances. “He’s on a mission,” she said.
And then, of course, there’s the excerpt that The Guardian US‘ Jessica Valenti cited in the tweet above. It highlights just how dangerous Pence-As-President would be. Don’t get me wrong, Trump has done plenty of sexist, homophobic, and racist things, but I don’t think any of his opinions are that firm, which is what makes him dangerous. Trump is an opportunist, and a horrific, selfish, entitled human being who doesn’t care who he has to throw under the bus, so long as he’s guaranteed popularity and power.
Pence is dangerous, because these are things that he’s not only genuinely believed throughout his life, but that he’s actively worked toward achieving, and the only thing protecting us from that as President is Trump finding Pence’s beliefs and religion laughable.
It’s a truly frightening thought.
Pence has been bought and paid for by corporate interests.
While Trump supporters can attempt to comfort themselves in the wake of this horror show by telling themselves that they voted for Trump because he was “his own person,” a “maverick” who “isn’t part of the political establishment,” (maybe not, but he’s certainly a part of the capitalist establishment) Mike Pence also came with that package, and he is the exact opposite of that.
The New Yorker piece details Pence’s long and fruitful relationship with the Koch Brothers, owners of Koch Industries, the second-largest private company in the United States. The Koch Brothers are libertarians who don’t believe in any government spending (how would poor, widdle private companies get to make any money without being able to privatize everything?) and who now have Pence as a drone in their pocket to further their interests in government. It’s because of this relationship that we have seen some of the most heinous decisions made in government:
Senator Whitehouse, the Rhode Island Democrat, believes that the Kochs “will stick one hundred of their own people into the government—and Trump will never notice.” As a result, he said, “the signs of a rapprochement are everywhere.” Whitehouse continued, “One by one, all the things that Trump campaigned on that annoyed the Koch brothers are being thrown overboard. And one by one the Koch brothers’ priorities are moving up the list.” Trump’s populist, nationalist agenda has largely been replaced by the agenda of the corporate right. Trump has made little effort at infrastructure reform, and he abandoned his support for a “border-adjustment tax” after the Koch network spent months campaigning against it, and after Pence and Short discussed it privately with Charles Koch at a meeting in Colorado Springs this summer. Bannon’s proposal to create a higher tax bracket for citizens earning upward of five million dollars was dropped. The Kochs enthusiastically support the White House’s proposed tax-cut package, which, according to most nonpartisan analyses, will disproportionately benefit the super-rich. (The proposed elimination of the estate tax alone would give the Koch brothers’ heirs a windfall of billions of dollars.)
So we not only have Pence’s social beliefs to contend with, we have the fact that the rest of what he fights for is on behalf of corporations, not people. Actually, it’s not even on behalf of corporations in general, but the interests of one of the US’ biggest companies. Singular. He’s basically a Koch Industries employee.
Give the full New Yorker piece a read, and make sure you keep an eye on all the villains in this story, not just the loud ones.
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