Sunday, July 17, 2016

Trump's Choice Of Pence, Good Or Bad?

 I Choose Him!  How Will Supporters React?
Following the revelation that Donald Trump has picked Mike Pence for his Vice Presidential running mate, we hear the words "Tell me it isn't so" flowing from the mouth of many Trump supporters. Pence is viewed by many voters as one of the most divisive and polarizing politicians in America. When the announcement was made a cheer rang out in the state of Indiana, the cheer did not signal approval but was rather a joyous celebration that Indiana would soon be rid of the unpopular Republican Governor who was running an uphill campaign to be reelected. To many voters outside his camp, Pence is seen as a shallow stuffed shirt and an opportunist with a history of seeking power by working his way up the political food chain.

Pence Reelection Was Not Guaranteed
By selecting Pence, Trump is seen as selling out to the establishment in an effort to silence the Stop Trump movement at the convention. This only helps legitimize the claims by his detractors that Trump is a divider that will further polarize the country. I suspect that Hillary Clinton and her supporters were downright giddy that Trump has vacated the middle ground and lessened his appeal to millions of independent voters and given into the will of the hard-right conservative base of the Republican party. This leaves Clinton far more room to garner voters as a moderate and banishes Trump to the socially backward agenda that has split Republicans for years. The Republican tent remains closed and small, oblivious to the reality many Americans are fiscally conservative but socially liberal. Republicans must wake up to the fact today fewer Americans see themselves as unbending bible touting hardliners hell bent on making others adopt their rigid social values.

One media spokesperson stated that Mike Pence is everything that Donald Trump isn't and by taking Pence on board Trump shows he can work with others and does listen. In some ways the two-party system has evolved into a haves against the have-nots, it often pits those seeking more government and transfers of wealth against those wanting less intervention in our lives. Several years ago a book was written questioning why voters would ever vote Republican. It touted the idea that people were actually voting against their own interest because deep in their minds they held the misguided belief they held a higher place in the economic picture than they really did and might someday be wealthy.

An old friend of mine who passed away a few years back used a catchphrase made popular from an old radio and television comedy, The Life of Riley, to describe events that turned sour, he would say, "what a revolting development,"  These few words in many ways might sum up the feelings of many voters that are sorely disappointed. The fact that the White House quickly found grounds to praise Trump's selection bodes poorly for Trump. Some questions still exist such as just how important the Vice Presidential slot is to the average voter and whether the Republicans will have a lot of problems justifying and explaining away conflicts between Trump and Pence on issues like free trade.

Most Trump supporters recognized the Donald was flawed, inarticulate, and somewhat lacking, still, the hope existed that his ego would not allow him to fail us or at least give a go at changing our current path. Trump in many ways became the candidate considered as a rejection of mainstream politics, a rejection of Washington as well as the new face of the Republican party, a party accountable to the middle class. Too many of these voters, Trump represented an effort to take back the party from the hard right that has held it hostage for years and hopefully open the tent to moderate voters. The "Make America Great Again" theme has extended beyond debates about whether we are still great and cuts into taking back power from the Washington establishment that many Americans feel has sold us out.

Both Trump and Clinton suffer high unfavorable ratings with voters, a wise choice might have been to choose a likable running mate to neutralize this issue. In an election where many voters are holding their nose as they enter the voting booth or may choose not to vote at all Pence may only exacerbate this problem because of his contentious relationship with women over reproduction rights, young people angered by his stand on marijuana, and recent uproars with the gay community. Expect Pence to galvanize liberals and motivate them to vote Democrat. As a resident of Indiana who remembers Pence campaigning for and endorsing Ted Cruz this only appears a good choice if Trump was actually seeking a mate with higher unfavorable ratings than his.

Trump's choice and how we arrived at this point only highlights the fact our flawed two-party election system is a big part of the problem that creates the gridlock polarizing our nation. In the general election, any third party candidate hell-bent on making a point can easily derail either party by drawing even a few votes thus having a major influence on who is elected. America’s presidential primary system is far from perfect and its flaws are then magnified by the defective and obsolete Electoral College that takes over after the general election. Time will show if Trump has negotiated or cut a good deal by making Pence part of his team. It is not realistic to think we can avoid the future by simply not voting or by throwing our vote away on a non-competitive third party.  We are again forced to pick the “lesser of two evils” The ugly choice between a deceitful and dishonest Hillary or a candidate that I will simply refer to as him.

Footnote; The links to other post related to the election can be found below.


  1. In my life time there has been only one conservative candidate offered up by the Republicans and that was Reagan. The Republican party is the party of "vote for us because we are not quite as bad as the other guys". The Republican Party claimed to be conservative but their actions have not been. From a fiscal/monetary perspective they are almost as bad as the Democrats. From a social perspective they, they take no actions that would upset the status quo. The Republican base is absolutely furious as the lack of action to oppose Obama since the last election. In fact they conspired with Democrats on votes related to the Iran nuke deal.

    Unfortunately the party chose a guy that is more Democrat than Republican for their nominee. They chose a guy that actually has helped fund Hillary in the past. (The Donald does know how to grease palms.) This guy is the worst candidate that the Republicans have could have fielded. I still may vote for him despite the fact that I despise the man. If I vote based on the lesser of two evils process, the Donald is an easy choice.

    However when you vote for the lesser of two evils, you still are voting for evil. I don't think that is a moral position although it may be a practical one.

  2. Well said, however, the choice of not voting, or voting for someone as a protest vote, in this case puts us into a somewhat similar position.