Mike Pence looks like a guy who watched too many episodes of “Mary Tyler Moore” as a kid and came away imprinted by the character of Ted Baxter, the pompous and self-deluded silver-haired newsman, whose perpetual cluelessness amused millions of TV watchers across the country. Little Mike appears to have seen Ted’s uninformed close-mindedness as a virtue and grew up to become an unapologetic evangelical social conservative who sees the last 40 years of progress on abortion, gay rights, civil rights, criminal justice reform and race relations as a disaster for the country.
Why does it matter? Because there is a possibility that Pence could become president of the United States. I know, I know. He’s running for vice president but consider that if he wins, Trump would be the oldest person ever elected to the job. He hides it well behind the constant rage and Agent Orange hair dye, but the Talking Yam is 70. At 6’3” and 236 pounds, he is overweight. He lives on Big Macs and Kentucky Fried Chicken. And, we know from John Kasich, who turned Trump down, he envisions making his VP the most powerful in history—kind of a chief operating officer while Trump handles the really important things like 3 a.m. tweets.
Donald Trump might blow up the world, but Mike Pence would set the clock back to 1954. It’s hard to say which would be worse. Here are some of Pence’s positions that should give even the most lukewarm progressive voters pause.
As governor of Indiana, Pence signed the most abortion-restrictive regulations in the nation, banning abortion even in cases where the fetus has a “genetic abnormality” such as Down syndrome and holding doctors legally liable if they had knowingly performed such procedures. The law also required that aborted fetal tissue be buried or cremated. Following the Supreme Court’s decision in a landmark abortion case in June, a federal judge blocked the law from going into effect.
He led the national fight to defund Planned Parenthood and forced so many of its clinics to close in Indiana that he triggered an H.I.V. epidemic in one county.
in 2015, Pence helped pass one of the nation’s harshest “religious freedom” laws that would have protected businesses who wanted to refuse service to LGBT people if they cited religious objections. After businesses pulled out of expansion plans into the state, Pence signed an amended version of the law that was nominally intended to provide protection for sexual orientation and gender identity.
As a congressman, he opposed federal funding that would support treatment for people suffering from H.I.V. and AIDS, unless the government simultaneously invested in programs to discourage people from engaging in same-sex relationships.
He has resisted changes to hate-crime laws that would have included acts against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. And he was against the end of “don’t ask, don’t tell,” a Clinton administration policy that allowed gays to serve in the military.
He has said publicly, “I long for the day that Roe v. Wade is sent to the ash heap of history.”
In 2006, Pence proposed an immigration compromise that envisioned a guest worker program that required undocumented immigrants to “self-deport” before returning to America legally. His plan did not offer a path to citizenship, nor did it propose a “deportation force.” He’s down with the big beautiful wall. He fought against having Syrian refugees settled in Indiana.
Under Governor Pence, Indiana has diverted $53 million in the past two years from public school to funding vouchers for private schools, including religious schools, and to charter school programs. He was the first governor to try to repeal Common Core. Pence earned an F on the official NEA legislative report card in eight of his 12 years as a member of Congress.
He was one of only 25 Republican congressmen to vote against George W. Bush’s “No Child Left Behind” initiative.
He is skeptical of climate change and wrote a letter to President Obama threatening to disobey the new regulations on coal mandated by the Clean Power Plan.
In 2014 Pence tweeted, “Trade means jobs, but trade also means security. The time has come for all of us to urge the swift adoption of the Trans Pacific Partnership.” Presumably, he has, or will, walk that one back.
Take a wild guess. He has an “A” rating from the NRA and is opposed to any restrictions on assault rifles.
Bonus: Troubling Personal Fact
Campaign finance records from a 1990 run for Congress show that Pence, then 31, had used political donations to pay the mortgage on his house, his personal credit card bill, groceries, golf tournament fees and car payments for his wife.