Would Vice President Mike Pence actually be a more controversial president than Trump?
It's a debate all Democrats and left-leaners indulge in over the dinner table over and over again, and one that is unlikely to vanish for months to come. In a nutshell: would Vice President Mike Pence be a worse choice of president than former reality TV star Donald Trump? It's a question that, unless you happen to own a crystal ball to gaze into the future with, is impossible to answer. But that, by no means, has stopped Trump-haters from wildly speculating.
Trump is a loose cannon, but Pence's calm and calculated behind-the-scenes work might make him unpredictable. Trump has extremist views, but many have claimed that Pence would take us back to the 1950s. Trump is unqualified so therefore he will not play by the rules, but Pence's qualifications in the political arena make him more threatening. Both sides of the coin are adamant in their viewpoints and, the truth is, we'll never know unless the billionaire businessman gets impeached and President Pence takes control of the White House. But, in the meantime, what we can do is lay out the facts and see what conclusion you come to.
Argument for Pence: The prospect of a Pence presidency is made one hundred times more terrifying when you hear about his extremist views. While, in just a few months, Trump has already managed to make a dent in the rights of LGBTQ+ people, it is widely speculated that Pence would do much worse. Anyone who has researched him knows that he is heavily rumoured to be a supporter gay conversion, the homophobic movement that believes gay people can be "fixed". Furthermore, he blocked the resettlement of Syrian refugees in Indiana, reportedly illegally tried to cut off federal aid to existing refugees and signed a bill that made it alright for Indiana businesses to discriminate against LGBTQ+ customers. All of these moves broach the question, if he did this as a senator, what could he achieve as president?
Argument for Trump: Many would argue that Trump's views are just as extreme as his partner's; since he came into power in January, he appears to have done everything in his power to make life difficult for minorities like LGBT+ communities and women including instating the global gag rule, the regulation that bans organisations from mentioning the word "abortion" and denies them financial help if they do so, banning travellers from Muslim-majority countries like Somalia, Yemen, Syria, Libya and Iran and numerous others from visiting the United States and banning transgender people from serving in the army. In addition, he is in the midst of pulling out of the Paris agreement that united all the world's nations in a single agreement on tackling climate change, as well as having revoked the 2014 Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces Order that included important rules that helped in protecting women in the workplace. On this basis, one could argue that everything we fear happening under a potential President Pence is basically already going down under President Trump.
Argument for Pence: A poll during election time revealed that Pence was so under the radar that 60 per cent of Americans hadn't even bothered to learn enough about him in order to have a favourable or unfavourable opinion. Often regarded as Trump's moderate sidekick who was along for the ride, many have argued that his bland exterior was simply present to cover a man who spent his political career catering to the far-right as a Christian fundamentalist. Rather than outwardly state his often controversial views, Vice President Mike Pence instead quietly supports public policy that aides in the oppression of persecuted groups which, in a way, is more terrifying than Trump who tells us his every thought on Twitter. For instance, it would be hard to find him groping women or bragging about it, but he may still target their human rights at every twist and turn - just by law instead.
Argument for Trump: While if Pence became president tomorrow chances we'd wouldn't know his true motives until he decided to make them clear, Trump is in a war of words every single day, whether it be on social media, in government meetings or elsewhere. While his extrovert nature helps us assess what exactly he's up to, it also gets him - and America - in a whole lot of trouble. For example, most recently with North Korea's leader Kim Jong-Un who he has named "little rocket man" and has appeared to threaten regime chance stating "they won't be around much longer". The businessman's inability to keep his mouth shut makes him a loose cannon who could accidentally take us to war at the post of a Tweet. In addition, his charisma gained him widespread support in the election, his rallies causing almost unprecedented enthusiasm. A charismatic politician who can whip his followers into this much of a frenzy with a simple speech is no doubt one to be feared.
Argument for Pence: Trump was officially the most inexperienced president in the history of the United States - but on the other hand, his vice president was a major player in the administration with years of politics behind him. This could easily make him more dangerous to the leftwing agenda than Trump could ever be. Whereas Trump often seems to be a rightwing reality TV star trying to be a president, Pence may find it easier to enforce his agenda as an experienced statesman. Pence has a political history of getting what he wants. For example take his signing of every anti-abortion bill that crossed his desk as governor of Indiana and diverting $53 million in the two years from public school to funding vouchers for private schools, including religious schools. Although doubt has been shed on whether Pence could have risen to the role of president himself, if Trump did get impeached, many speculate that Pence would have no problem working the system to instate his will. Senator Al Franken of Minnesota warned his fellow Democrats to be careful what they wished for with Trump's impeachment, saying of Pence: “He’s ideological, I consider him a zealot, and I think that in terms of a lot of domestic policy certainly would be worse than Trump."
Argument for Trump: Which is more dangerous? A highly unqualified and irresponsible leader or a calculated and experienced leader? It's difficult to say. Trump's inexperience was a large part of the reason that he was elected as president; up against Hillary Clinton, people were sick of the same old politicians and were raring for something different. But, despite the Republicans attempting to reel him in at every turning point, the anti-politician's lack of political experience has gotten him into several sticky situations over the past few months. Many of his supporters still love that he is the outsider willing to shatter the norm and do the unexpected but, as we only have to cite the Taiwan phone call, the war of words with nuclear bomb lovers North Korea and threats to Iran, among other incidents to know that his inexperience is dangerous for Americans. On the other hand, his inexperience is most likely the reason that he's had trouble pushing his agenda through in the past - it makes him ineffective and this is only a good thing in the eyes of Democrats.
Argument for Pence: Although Pence is unlikely to be as popular with American voters as Trump, heavily lacking his charisma and memorability, there is a high chance that Pence will be more favourable with his fellow Republicans. During the election, politicians who had been staunch Republicans their entire lives, came out claiming that they would not be voting for their own party because of one thing and one thing only: Trume. Reports have already shown that Republicans are beginning to discuss the possibility of replacing Trump with Pence, highlighting the fact that, as awful as an impeachment would be for the party, many Republicans would be willing to give up Trump in favour of Pence. A Republican insider told the Independent: "I find it unlikely that Trump is going anywhere. That being said, Pence is well-liked on the Hill, fairly predictable, and doesn't stir up much unnecessary drama." Assuming that Trump does get impeached, it seems like President Pence may have an easier ride and be able to get through his rightwing agenda, potentially having the support of more of the party.
Argument for Trump: Although Republicans are apparently dropping like flies when it comes to their support for Trump, millions of voters across America are very much with him. A recent NBC poll showed that more voters consider themseleves Trump supporters than Republicans, despite technically voting for the party; amazingly, 58 per cent of respondents claimed that they considered themselves Trump supporters, while only 38 per cent of these indicated they considered themselves supporters of the Republican party. This only works to exemplify how Trump has captured the hearts of voters and how their unwavering faith in him could see him stick around for some time to come.
So, do you think Vice President Mike Pence could make a more controversial president than Trump? The two most powerful men in America sure are very different characters and it's difficult to say who would ruffle the feathers of the left wing the most. At the end of the day, regardless of who sits with his finger on the red button, Democrats and Trump haters will just have to keep on battling on and hope for the best.