Donald Trump’s rhetoric is disgusting. His blatantly racist, sexist, transphobic and bigoted statements garnered international media attention. But at heart, he is no more than a shrewd businessman capitalizing on the fears of Americans. He will not last the full term in the office. So get ready for President Mike Pence.
Hopefully, the American people will realize that Trump’s complete lack of political experience, hot-headedness, bigotry render him unsuitable to lead a nation. The bullying and lewdness that propelled Americans to vote for him will inevitably be his downfall. The international community does not and will not respect him as a leader or even as a human being. I cannot predict what the final straw will be. But eventually, the American people will have to face who they have elected to lead them. And when Trump is impeached, jailed, or—dare I say—assassinated, we will be left with Mike Pence.
Whereas Trump loudly and grotesquely defames entire groups of people, Pences’ beliefs are even more shocking. Next to the loud-mouthed, orange-faced braggart, we have made the mistake of viewing Pence as a tamer alternative to Trump. Pence is a politician; Trump is not. Trump is a businessman and a bully; Pence is much slyer.
Donald Trump made headlines earlier this year with his statement on abortion. “There has to be some form of punishment [for women who have abortions],” he said, when pressed about his pro-life stance. His interviewer, MSNBC’s Chris Matthews, then asked about the man’s role in a woman’s abortion. Would the man who impregnated a woman getting an abortion be responsible under law as well? “Well, it hasn’t- it hasn’t—different feelings, different people. I would say no.” Trump eventually determined.
His words shocked many people. What we failed to recognize, however, is that he simply confirmed the pro-life stance. Pro-lifers believe in criminalizing a woman’s right to abortion, and they use various euphemisms to express this. Rarely will a pro-life activist say “We believe in punishing women, removing their bodily autonomy and denying the man’s responsibility in a pregnancy.” People who are pro-life often see their views as noble—a mission to protect the life of what they believe to be a human being. Any politician knows how to swing this. Donald Trump, with his little experience as a politician, said the reality of the pro-life movement—no euphemisms, no filter, none of the “political correctness” he hates so much.
Pence’s views on abortion garnered almost no attention, yet are even more restrictive than Trump’s. Pence supports the nation’s heaviest regulations on abortion. Earlier this year he signed an Indiana bill that would have criminalized many aspects of women’s health, including fetal tissue collection or transfer, and made the entire situation unbearable. The anti-abortion bill would have required women to view an ultrasound of the fetus and listen to its heartbeat within 18 hours of undergoing an abortion. In Pence’s view, abortion is not already a difficult enough process for the millions of women who make the decision to have an abortion. The law would also require women who experienced abortions or miscarriages to cremate or bury the fetus. Seriously. Because Mike Pence is neither orange nor screaming, we have let these views slide for way too long. He plays the political game, covers his tracks and signs away women’s reproductive rights while the rest of the nation cannot tear its eyes away from Trump.
Women’s reproductive rights is just one issue where Pence not only fails to support the American people, but actively denies them basic human rights. According to the bills Pence has signed and the statements he has made, here is what we know about his views on the LGBTQA+ community: Pence is in favor of using taxpayer dollars to fund “gay conversion therapy”; he approves a platform that allows parents to determine proper medical treatment and therapy for their minor children, thus allowing parents to subject their children to conversion therapy; he would allow business to discriminate against customers based on sexual orientation; he favors jailing same-sex couples who apply for a marriage license or the clerks who supply said license; opposed the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”; he said gay couples signify “societal collapse”; he opposed a law that would prevent discrimination based on sexual orientation in the workplace; and he has repeatedly opposed the legalization of same-sex marriage. Donald Trump has a history of anti-gay rhetoric, but Pence has a long history of anti-gay action. Both are dangerous, but Pence is clearly a man with experience in denying queer people basic human rights.
The power that a vice president holds is admittedly minimal compared to that of the president. Trump’s volatile nature, age, health and overall government inexperience signals that one way or another, a Pence presidency is a very real possibility not to be taken lightly.