Politics, News

What’s Mike Pence’s game?

Why would he want to stake his career on the Trump train?

Mike Pence. The man, the mystery, the former Governor of Indiana. Currently running as Donald Trump’s VP, Mike Pence is probably best known for signing the infamous Indiana “freedom of religion” law that allowed Indiana business owners to discriminate against LGBTQ people. He spent twelve years in Congress advocating to defund Planned Parenthood, describing himself as “tea party before it was cool,” and warning that legalizing same-sex marriage could bring about societal collapse.

He had already served one term as governor and was about to run for a second when Trump asked him to join his ticket. As such, Pence’s colorful history has taken something of a backseat to his running mate, who becomes less and less electable with every passing second.

Which leads me to my question: What is your game, here, Pence? What’s your angle? What’s in it for you?

For one thing, the former congressman and governor clearly has much stronger knowledge of how government actually works than Trump does. Whenever Trump makes a ridiculous promise he couldn’t possible fulfill or blames Obama’s presidency for his bread getting moldy, Pence knows he’s being categorically incorrect. Presumably, anyway. I should hope he’d have caught on after all his time as an elected official.

Why would he want to stake his career on the Trump train? Even if he’s convinced Trump will win, that’s four years. Does Pence think that he’ll be able to channel Trump’s, erm…enthusiasm into actual, functional, government? Does he imagine himself actually running things while Trump marches around the West Wing telling random interns “you’re fired!” just because he can?

Or, does he imagine a future where Trump is impeached or steps down, allowing Pence his time in the sun? Pence was a rising star in the Republican party and a favorite to run for President himself before his homophobic legislation in Indiana made headlines and spoiled his reputation. Maybe he’s just trying to cling to the tattered remnants of his Presidential hopes, or is fantasizing about jumping in and saving the day after Trump has his fun.

Huh. Remember the days when doing or saying heinously bigoted things made you (even supposedly) unfit to run on the Republican ticket? Good times…

The other interesting thing is how Trump really isn’t as hardcore conservative as Pence is, on many subjects. They don’t agree on policy; the list of areas where they differ goes far beyond Trump’s response to questions about Syria in the second debate.

After Trump’s “pussy grabbing” tape leaked, Pence didn’t even bother trying to spin it, he just said “I do not condone his remarks and I cannot defend them.” For someone who has been selling himself as a conservative Christian for years, he wouldn’t do any better than that? What do his Indiana supporters think about his backing a man who brags about sexually assaulting women, brags about any kind of sexual contact with a woman who isn’t his wife?

There were plenty of Republicans who really wanted Ted Cruz but threw their lot in with Trump when it came down to it. After this latest debacle, many of them are ditching Trump like a bad habit, ignoring him to focus on Congress, or, I assume, curled up in the fetal position and asking themselves where it all went wrong.

But not Pence. No, Pence is just doubling down and making sure we all know that he hasn’t once considered dropping out of the race, calling his chance to be Trump’s VP “the greatest honor of my life.” When asked about Trump’s comments about assaulting women, he just deflected to Bill Clinton. When asked whether or not he and Trump were at odds about Syria, he said that Martha Raddatz misrepresented him in the way she framed the question.

Maybe Pence is as delusional as Trump. Maybe he really and truly believes a Trump presidency is headed our way, and it will usher a golden age in America. Considering his record as a career politician who has functioned within the system for years now, I have my doubts that his motivations are as straightforward as that.

I don’t understand you, Mike Pence. I deeply, do not understand you in a way that goes beyond your fossilized views on women and the LGBTQ community.