Saturday, June 18, 2022

Mike Pence as Hero? More Needs To Be Done

The narrative being put forward by his supporters, even by some Democrats, is that Mike Pence saved our democracy. That under extreme pressure and personal danger to his security and life he chose to resist Donald Trump’s entreaties. Rather than flee the Capitol January 6, 2021, he stood steadfast, albeit in understandable hiding, waiting for the insurrectionists to be evicted. He defended the Constitution from the vandals in the Capitol and their spineless leader in the White House.

His detractors label Pence a coward. A traitor. A disloyal lieutenant to the greatest president we’ve ever had. That’s just mimicking what Donald Trump says. At the Capitol on January 6th the mob was chanting, “Hang Mike Pence.” They erected a gallows should they ever find him.

Pence is no paragon of virtues. After all, his appetite for power let him swallow his Christian upbringing and become the running mate of a man whose temperament and mores were the antithesis of his.

Cynics might argue it took more than four years for Pence to grow a set of cojones, to put it crassly. The “Access Hollywood” tape didn’t derail his coveting power. Stormy Daniels didn’t stir any emotions in him. Trump’s illegal pressure on Ukraine to find dirt on Hunter Biden didn’t. Trump’s call to Georgia’s secretary of state to just find him enough ballots to top Biden’s tally didn’t make him run to the ramparts in defense of free and honest elections.

What Pence did January 6 was admirable. But in the year and a half since the assault on the Capitol orchestrated by Trump’s lies and inflammatory oratory, Pence didn’t truly waver in his allegiance to the would-be dynasty-maker-in-chief (does anybody seriously doubt that for Trump the next in line to be president after him would not be Pence but rather Don Jr.?).

If Pence truly wants to establish himself as the voice of reason and responsibility in the Republican Party he needs to vocally call out senators, congressmen, state officials, Fox News luminaries and other right wing blowhards who continue to spout the belief that the 2020 election was fraudulently stolen by Biden.

He needs to denounce Trumpism. On Friday, Trump indicated if elected president again he likely would pardon 800 rioters arrested at the Capitol. He claimed only one person died during the melee. I wonder how the families of the four other fatalities feel about Trump.

Pence needs to do counter Trump loudly and often, not just to pump up his own stature but also to encourage the process of a return to normalcy within his party. The issues are not abortion, gay rights, or any other wedge issue. The issues are whether Republicans can be expected to accept facts as facts, whether they can accept defeat graciously without illegitimate cries of foul and fraud, whether they will swear allegiance to the Constitution and not to an individual. 

A return to traditional American political values is necessary to make our country a more perfect union.

Trump, however, is challenging reality and such notions in the extreme. Friday he claimed only one person died in the Capitol riot. The actual number was five. Despite repeatedly being told by his legal staff and judges, many of whom he appointed, that there was no truth to his cries of election fraud he continues to espouse them to an eager yet duped audience. Trump’s cries to the contrary, Pence could not void any Electoral College slates or ballots. He could not start a process to make Trump the winner of the election. 

Pence must muster the courage to forcefully rebut Trump every time The Donald spits out another stale whopper. He’s been quiet too long. He’s still a hero in the making. 

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