Saturday, May 20, 2017

ANS -- Two articles on whether Pence would be better or worse than Trump

Here are two articles -- one saying Pence would be worse than Trump, and one with the opposite opinion.  You pays yer money and you takes yer chances....

Mike Pence Would Be Far Worse Than Donald Trump

Would President Pence be "better" or worse than Donald Trump? That's a fair question. A quick Google search will give you a number of people who think he would be better. And a number who think otherwise. Let's talk about this.

V. P. Mike Pence - Waiting On The Bench (Official White House Photo by Benjamin Applebaum)

V. P. Mike Pence – Waiting On The Bench (Official White House Photo by Benjamin Applebaum)

Better is a relative term and, given the low bar set by Trump, it is an easy goal to achieve depending on how you define "better." Pence would definitely bring far less drama and volatility to the office. He would not have the entourage of family members and fringe misfits that Trump has assembled. Indeed, a President Pence would surround himself with far more "mainstream" conservatives. He would have the advice and counsel of people who have made advancing a conservative agenda their life's work. He would employ people who have studied the issues and who, through years of practice, have become skilled in promoting a meaner, more racist, more sexist, more stratified America. And this, I believe, makes him far worse for America.

Trump is like the bumbling drunk who staggers down the street bouncing off walls and parked cars in an effort to stay upright and heading in one direction. If the drunk bumps into you it is not intentional, there was no plan, it just happened. Yes, you were harmed when he knocked you over, and the stench from the drunk's puke stained clothes now envelopes you, but that was not the drunk's plan. No one is certain what the drunk was planning. Even the drunk is unsure. Is the drunk dangerous? Certainly! But it could be worse.

Down the same street comes President Pence. Stone cold sober and calculating every step. You are the target. He and his gang want to harm you. They want to make an example of you. They crowd you like school-yard bullies. They poke you and test your defenses. They mock you and try to provoke a reaction, a justification for what is about to happen. The attack intensifies. Any who are your allies are targeted also. Family, friends, casual associates are all vilified. You are isolated. You are a woman. You are gay. You are an atheist. You are black. You are an immigrant. You are poor. And years of planning, and practice, and indignation rain down on you crushing you and putting you in your place. This would be a Pence presidency.

Fellow Patheos writer Erin Wathen has echoed the sentiment of many and has given us "11 Reasons President Pence Would Not Be "Just As Bad." I disagree with Erin, who makes some valid points about Pence, but also, like many, minimizes or overlooks that he has a history and a plan to fundamentally change America. An impetuous man like Trump, devoid of any moral or intellectual moorings and driven by unvarnished narcissism is undoubtedly bad for America. But the studied and deliberate crafting of policies, driven by a mixture of corporate fealty, theological dominionism, and a survival of the fittest society is far worse.

These points barely scrape the surface of Mike Pence's dystopian vision for America:

1. Mike Pence Wages War On Women.

Pence's religious views over-ride and equality and fairness that our society has been (slowly) moving to extend to women. On top of legislation that would make women poorer he has also signed a law that requires women who have had abortions or miscarriages, no matter how early, to arrange for either burial or cremation of the remains. The law does not require a formal funeral but it does preclude any disposition other than burial or cremation. You could donate the body of a newborn for medical research but cannot for a miscarried fetus.

In Congress Pence co-sponsored a bill to redefine "rape" to "forcible rape" or what the bill's author called "legitimate rape." Rep. Todd Akin (R-MO) claimed that "legitimate rape" does not often lead to pregnancy because "the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down." This law would allow the government to challenge a woman who was raped and wanted an abortion. They would be able to interrogate the victim and determine if the rape was "legitimate" or not because, according to their warped view of women and science "legitimate rape" does not lead to pregnancy so therefore the victim is lying.

2. Mike Pence Wages War On LGBTQ+ Americans

Pence has advocated that tax money be spent on conversion therapy. When running for congress he wrote that: "Resources should be directed toward those institutions which provide assistance to those seeking to change their sexual behavior." On the same site he wrote: "Congress should oppose any effort to put gay and lesbian relationships on an equal legal status with heterosexual marriage."

As governor of Indiana Pence  signed a "license to discriminate" bill allowing businesses to refuse services to LGBTQ+ citizens of Indiana. In an interview on ABC's This Week he refused eight times to say he opposes discrimination against gay people. In Congress he voted against the Employment Non-Discrimination Act which was written to prohibit discrimination against people based on sexual orientation. Pence voted against that law. He later said the law "wages war on freedom and religion in the workplace."

3. Mike Pence Wages War On The Elderly

"Few members of Congress have an anti-seniors voting record as consistently strong as Mike Pence.

Mike Pence was one of Congress' biggest proponents of privatization. He supports cutting Social Security benefits by raising the retirement age, reducing the COLA, means-testing and turning Medicare into "CouponCare." As he told CNN, 'I'm an all of the above guy.  I think we need to look at everything that's on the menu,' and the record shows he has done just that by supporting every form of Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid benefit cut proposed in the past decade.

The National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare scored Mike Pence at 0% on issues important to seniors during the 2011-2012 Congress since he voted for multiple pieces of legislation that would cut benefits and programs that protect senior's health and financial security."" – National Committee To Preserve Social Security And Medicare.

4. Mike Pence Wages War On The Poor

Pence would like to "convert Medicaid into a block grant program… with the likely result that countless low-income beneficiaries could lose their health insurance or see steep reductions."

At a time when there were one million available jobs and two million job seekers in the mid-west Pence decided to kick people off of food stamps in an effort to "ennoble" them.

He signed a law capping the minimum wage in Indiana. He also repealed a law guaranteeing that "prevailing wages" be paid to workers on publicly funded construction projects. This would allow construction companies to pay far less for skilled workers than the current market rate.

5. Mike Pence Wages War On American's Health

Pence voted for at least 35 pieces of legislation aimed at repealing all or part of Obamacare. Some of the votes included provisions against things like "death panels" that never existed.

As chronicled here Pence has continually advocated and voted for policies that harm Americans in many areas including:

The Nuclear Problem

His finger on the nuclear button may be the best argument that Pence is better than Trump. As Erin Wathen  says: "The bottom line is, this would all be so much more fun to watch if there weren't nuclear weapons involved…" And I admit I am not clear on whether I believe Trump would use nuclear weapons. I tend to doubt it but I am not certain. But I am certain that both he and Pence would be equally ready to send American troops into war. When I protested the Bush war in Iraq I said it would be a long and costly war. It has cost countless lives, trillions of dollars, decimated families, ruined cities, paralyzed nations, spawned a new generation of people with reasons to hate America, weakened us internationally, eroded our freedoms, and put us in a state of continual warfare. The next war will be worse. Much worse. And it may involve nuclear weapons regardless of who sits in the Oval Office.

Pence is today's garden-variety conservative Republican. Motivated by an apocalyptic theology, a strident religious nationalism, a belief in the mythical "free-market," a survival of the fittest view of humanity, and an allegiance to corporate interests. I find his calculated form of evil far more unsettling than the haphazard evil of a Donald Trump. It is for this reason and those mentioned above that I must conclude that Mike Pence is far worse for America than Donald Trump.

Follow me on Facebook and on Twitter. On Facebook I share cat and chicken pictures and the occasional musing about what is going on in the world. On Twitter I bang my head on my desk a lot because who can communicate in 140 characters?

About John WL Berry

John is a former digital Sherpa who uses sock puppets to create alternative methods of growth in long-term information intelligence. His focus recently has been on free-range, artisan, locally sourced, gluten-free, and disruptive information supply chains.

Just kidding. He is a grief counselor, a former hospital chaplain, a pretend farmer who uses real dirt, an award-winning writer (OK, it was a gold star in the 5th grade but it was still an award), and the guy who always talks to you when you are standing in the checkout line. Raised in Boston (Roxbury) he has lived in Maine for 23 years. John spent over 40 years participating in, observing, questioning, and avoiding American politics while learning to follow Jesus.


Second article:  

11 Reasons President Pence Would Not Be "Just As Bad"

I know. I know. Practically every week since Trump announced his candidacy, there's been a "surely this will be the end of him" headline, and none of them ultimately amount to anything. And even now, there remains a carefully crafted narrative that his base will uphold no matter what.

And yet. This one might be different.

Things are starting to hit the fan. Even his biggest supporters in the House and Senate are starting to skulk away, with midterms on their minds. It is getting harder to make excuses for his blunders; and nearly impossible to deny to the obvious shady business surrounding Comey, ties to Russia, and now, the possible obstruction of justice related to both.

There must be a boiling point, after all. The current pace of everyday gaff and scandal is not sustainable–not even for a giant demagogue with every resource and tool of manipulation at his disposal. Whether it's today, or next week, or a year from now, something is going to burn this thing down. And it will probably be a spark from within.

As the certainty of some game-changing revelation grows, I keep hearing the same thing from progressive circles: "But Pence is just as bad." Or, "President Pence will be worse."


While I get the general sentiment, he is not worse. Not even "as bad." Is he an ideological nightmare? Sure. Would he be a friend to women, people of color, the poor, or the LGBT community? Lol, no. But he's a far safer presence than the current resident of the Oval Office. Here's why:

  1. Global relationships and diplomacy. Whatever damage he might do, policy-wise, here at home, he will not be a stage 4 cancer on America's worldwide credibility. DJT has proven, again and again, that he doesn't know who our friends are, doesn't care and won't learn how foreign policy works, and cannot keep his tiny hands off of the big red button. It is terrifying. Say what you will about Pence, but his brand of gross will not lead to this level of escalating global tension.
  2. Experience. "Career politician" is not always a selling point in campaign season. But I'd rather have a career politician than a zero-experience constant liability. As a seasoned politician, Pence knows about things like "optics" and "ethics." He knows, for instance, that you cannot fill the highest positions of power with your kids and your billionaire BFF's. He has experience, and so he will value experience in those he places around him.
  3. Conflicts of interest. Pence doesn't have them. At least, not on the obvious and epic scale that Trump does, with his endless web of corporate connections and favors owed and expected.
  4. A Vague Awareness of Other People. Whatever I may think of his politics (terrible) or his personal beliefs (gross) he is not a complete narcissist, incapable of taking feedback or gathering input from trusted and informed sources. One of Trump's biggest weaknesses is the utter lack of regard for what anyone else thinks, even within his own circles.
  5. Military Experience. He has some. So maybe he'd be a little less likely to send our children off to a conflict without thoroughly plotting a path in and out, and discerning the consequences.
  6. Family. I'm just guessing that a guy who will not eat a meal alone with another woman, would not be too wild about the idea of living apart from his wife. No more spending obscene amounts of taxpayer money to secure basically the whole city of New York, to build a secondary fortress for the First Family.
  7. The Private Resort Situation. To the best of my knowledge, Mike Pence does not own a resort in Florida, or elsewhere, that he would treat as his second office. Trump's frequent travel to his vacation spots is not just concerning because of the expense; it also means he frequently takes state affairs out of the public eye. "Private" is the operative word… When the White House goes to Mar a Lago, a lot of "our" national business happens behind closed doors. Or behind the 9th tee, if you will.
  8.  Faith. Do I agree with his theology? Hell nah. It is harmful, and I've expounded on that in other posts. However–it is, at least, what appears to be a more genuine faith than Trump's "how do I work this communion cup thing" and "two Corinthians" performances that clearly pander to a certain demographic. Trump's posturing makes a mockery, not just of a particular faith, but of faith in general. Not to mention, I'd like to think that a President who at least believes in a higher power could muster up a certain degree of humility on occasion. That's always nice to see in a leader.
  9. Education. Again–Pence has some. I'm over Trump's blatant anti-intellectualism, disregard for facts, and consistent scorn for informed and intelligent people. Pence might not have the oratory skills of Kennedy or Obama, but damn, it would be nice to hear at least a high school vocabulary when we turn on the State of the Union. I mean, let's be real. I will settle for complete sentences at this point. 
  10. Temperament. If nothing else, I look forward to a break from the midnight Twitter storms. It might be refreshing to live in a country that is no longer the laughing stock of the world.
  11. Freedom of the Press. Remember what that is? We may be stuck with the legacy of "2 Americas," and the tension between Fox News and…well, everyone else. But Pence does not appear to have the overt animosity for the free press that puts Trump constantly at odds with them. And therefore, we might return to a somewhat stable relationship with our shared narrative.

The main thing that concerns me about Pence is that he could, in this moment, strategically position himself as the anti-Trump, and come out smelling like a rose. A hero to both conservatives and moderates, and possibly even a portion of the progressive base. It could mean a certain win for him in 2020, and unprecedented power for Christian fundamentalists in the upcoming midterms. That makes me shudder. But ultimately, his brand of damage is easier to reign in than the full-on global meltdown we face with the existing Trump administration.

Yes, Pence exhibits his own brand of racism; his own harmful kind of patriarchy; his own willful ignorance of poverty, and an overt homophobia that might set equality back a few decades. But these are all things we can fight. These are all issues that we can resist at local and state levels…provided we remain a functional democratic system. And, you know, that we don't get blown off the map by North Korea. If we want to keep democracy in tact–and stay alive to fight another day–that means first ousting the sitting President.

The bottom line is, this would all be so much more fun to watch if there weren't nuclear weapons involved…

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