At first glance, I thought that Trump’s selection of Mike Pence as his running mate was a relatively smart, sane move. Granted, this is very faint praise! After all, I was pretty sure that Trump was going to pick Newt Gingrich or some other right-wing grotesque, just out of sheer ego and spite. The Veepstakes is one of the most overrated rituals in presidential politics. Running mates don’t decide the election and rarely even carry their own home states; the top of the ticket always matters much more than the VP candidate. However, even though a presidential nominee’s choice of a running mate doesn’t usually move the needle much on the national election results, but it is important for what it tells us about the candidate and their strategy.
For example, with Mike Pence, Donald Trump has made a relatively reasonable, sober-looking decision. He chose someone with actual governing experience who is widely respected within the Republican Party, which seems to be a good strategy to balance the ticket against Trump’s insurgent party-wrecking freak show of a candidacy. Trump’s selection of Mike Pence is not a deliberate political stunt/troll job like choosing Sarah Palin or Newt Gingrich or Joni Ernst would have been. Unlike almost everything else Trump has done so far, choosing Mike Pence sends a message that he’s maybe kind of serious about this campaign and is sort of thinking about actually trying to unify the Republican Party and perhaps in some hypothetical future, trying to govern.
But on the other hand: Mike Pence sucks. Just because he has a conservative haircut and a nondescript executive white male demeanor doesn’t mean Mike Pence is a good person. Just because Mike Pence was probably the best and smartest choice that Trump could have made for his running mate, that doesn’t mean Mike Pence deserves to hold national office. When you look at his record for 15 seconds, you quickly realize that Mike Pence is just another boring right-wing Christian asshole.
Earlier this year, as governor of Indiana, Mike Pence signed an invasive new abortion law that tightens restrictions on abortion—women in Indiana are no longer allowed to get abortions based on fetal abnormalities, and requires aborted fetuses and even miscarried fetuses—regardless of the age of the fetus—to be “interred or cremated by a facility having possession of the remains.”
However! What Mike Pence probably doesn’t know—since Republicans tend to be hilariously ignorant about how women’s bodies work—is that MANY women have “miscarriages” all the time during their monthly periods. Approximately 30-40% of all fertilized eggs have a chromosomal abnormality or other issue that results in early miscarriage before the woman even knows that she was “pregnant.” But according to the logic of Mike Pence, that means that every used tampon in Indiana needs to receive a proper burial now—since that tampon MIGHT contain a human life with legal rights that exceed its mother’s.
As a result of this batshit insanity, an online movement called “Periods for Pence” was formed to encourage women to call Mike Pence’s office to notify him whenever they were having their period, since he’s so concerned about the lives of the unborn.
The most devilish trick that the Republicans ever pulled was defining the terms of public debate around abortion and claiming the moral high ground of being “Pro-Life.” I’m sick of this shit. Abortion laws like Mike Pence’s are not about being “pro-life,” they’re about shaming women, harming women, and restricting the freedom and personal agency of women.
Here’s an idea, conservatives. If you really care about “life” and want women to stop having abortions, instead of nitpicking around to try to make it harder for women to have abortions, how about this: make it incredibly AWESOME to become a mother. By many measures, America is one of the worst places in the “advanced/industrialized/developed” world to be a mom. We have lousy infant mortality rates and bad prenatal care and high incidences of medically unnecessary C-section surgeries, and widespread ignorance about how to take care of moms’ health before and after pregnancy, not to mention our lack of paid parental leave and the various insidious ways that American women get penalized in the workplace and held back in their lifelong earnings potential by becoming a mother. In America, if you get pregnant, the Republicans are happy to keep you from having an abortion, but once that baby is born, you’re on your own.
If America had great prenatal care and universal health insurance and 12 months of paid maternity leave and subsidized daycare and all of the other things that make life so much easier for working moms, we’d probably see a big reduction in the abortion rate. But see, Mike Pence and conservatives like him don’t want any of those things! Guys like Mike Pence (and it’s almost always guys who are doing this shit) don’t care about helping women become mothers—they just want to shame and punish the bloodthirsty abortion sluts. And then send the grown-up babies from these unplanned pregnancies to rot in private prisons or die in stupid wars. As George Carlin said, “Conservatives need live babies so they can raise ‘em up to be dead soldiers.”
And the other thing I hate about abortion laws like Indiana’s: they put the full burden of the regulatory state upon WOMEN while completely letting men off the hook. But—for now, until artificial penis technology becomes so advanced that women don’t need men at all anymore—it takes two people to make a pregnancy. But what about the men?? Indiana is trying to criminalize women’s periods, but what about every man in Indiana who’s masturbating to Pornhub right now? Aren’t all of those self-induced ejaculations squandering potential human lives too? Let’s be ideologically consistent, Christians! From now on, Indiana should require all men to dispose of their used masturbatory Kleenex and crusty old socks in a proper crematory, with a memorial service officiated by an ordained minister. All Sperm Matter!
Sorry, abortion is a pet issue of mine, because I love women and I have two kids, and becoming a parent has made me more pro-choice than I ever thought was possible.
It goes without saying that, as a right-wing Christian from Indiana, Mike Pence hates gays and lesbians and bisexual and trans people too. I had totally forgotten about this, because there is too much sheer volume of right-wing Christian bullshit happening in America at all times for me to be able to keep up with all of it, but Mike Pence also signed into law the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) which made it legal for Christian-owned businesses to discriminate against LGBT people, because apparently getting paid to make a wedding cake for a lesbian couple is too much for these delicate Christians to bear.
The bill sparked an unprecedented national outcry and led to calls for boycotting Indiana and major companies cancelling investment plans in Indiana, which did not help Indiana’s economy (weakest job growth in the Midwest).
By the way: Christians like Mike Pence are hilariously pathetic. They’re AFRAID of the smallest, most oppressed minority groups in America. Indiana is one of the whitest, most-uniformly Christian states in America, but let gay couples try to order a wedding bouquet or give trans people the right to order a pizza (and use the bathroom at the pizza joint), and suddenly these Christians are wetting their pants with terror.
How did Christians—whose religion is founded upon Christ’s suffering and sacrifice on the cross, whose religion conquered so much of the world through war and Crusades and Inquisitions and witch-burnings and genocides—get to be such a bunch of cowardly weaklings? C’mon, buck up, Christians. Your predecessors used to get devoured alive by lions in the Roman arena, and your Lord and Savior suffered a ghastly death upon the cross for your sins, but now you can’t even manage to coexist with gay people long enough to complete a simple business transaction? Where’s your strength and toughness, Christians? You’re pathetic.
Even aside from all the misogyny and anti-gay hatred, let’s not give Trump too much credit for making a “smart” choice. How smart can Mike Pence be—he’s the governor of Indiana, for God’s sake!! Indiana is one of America’s most underratedly awful states. It’s like someone broke off a piece of Mississippi and stuck it in the middle of the Midwest, but without the delicious Southern cuisine and Delta Blues. Indiana is so boring, they don’t even use spicy red sauce on their anti-gay pizzas—all Indiana pizzas are made with a mayonnaise-based sauce and topped with unseasoned turkey sausage.
The last Vice Presidential nominee to come from Indiana was Dan Quayle, a.k.a. the deer in the headlights-looking guy who couldn’t spell the word “potato;” the stupidest Vice President since Spiro Agnew; the guy who reminded George Bush Sr. of his dipshit son George W.
Indiana’s idea of a “smart” politician is Evan Bayh, who is apparently running for Senate again, a few years after he resigned from the Senate because he said he hated being a Senator. Evan Bayh sucks, too. The only way to get elected as a Democrat in Indiana is to be a gutless, whiny non-entity who always tries to be “bipartisan” and work with Republicans even while Republicans are stabbing you in the face. This is the best that Indiana’s “best and brightest” political families can do.
I don’t think Mike Pence is going to be our next VP, because Donald Trump’s campaign is fatally flawed and everyone other than angry white men hates him. But it’s important to resist the narrative that the Republicans are going to put forward about Mike Pence—that compared to Trump’s unhinged egomania, Mike Pence is some kind of reasonable, effective-governing, smart, statesmanlike person—because he’s not. He’s just another stupid, gay-bashing, vagina-fearing, white bigoted jerk.