Mike Pence (1959- ) is the Republican governor of the northern US state of Indiana. He is also Donald Trump’s pick for vice president in the 2016 US election for president.
Mike Pence, in other words, could either become president some day – or a trivia question. Only time will tell.
He is not from a swing state, but he does make up for many of Trump’s weaknesses:
- he has held elected office;
- he is solidly on the Christian right, an important wing of the party;
- he is friends with Paul Ryan, head of the House of Representatives;
- he believes in the US Constitution;
- he seems like a responsible adult.
That is heartening because it means Trump is somehow able to see past his huge ego, that he is more than a big mouth.
Pence grew up in the 1960s and 1970s as an Irish American Catholic in middle-class Indiana. His heroes were John F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King. He was a Democrat, voting against Reagan in 1980.
But by the late 1990s he was a megachurch-going White Evangelical Protestant who had his own right-wing Republican talk radio show, which he said was “Rush Limbaugh on decaf”.
He had practised law and was the head of a think tank. He first ran for Congress in 1988, but did not win till 2000, when he started putting his faith at the centre of his politics. He was in Congress from 2001 to 2013 and has been governor of Indiana since 2013.
In 2015 he made news nationwide when he signed into Indiana law the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. It allowed businesses to refuse service to lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans people for religious reasons. The infamous example was of a flower shop not selling flowers for a gay wedding.
Apple compared it to Jim Crow. The NBA was against it too. Business leaders in Indiana freaked out and got him to amend the law – but that made the Christian right unhappy! By the end of it, though, he had thoroughly mastered the art of the non-answer.
Pence says he is:
“a Christian, a conservative and a Republican, in that order.”
“For me it all begins with faith; it begins with what matters most, and I try and put what I believe to be moral truth first. My philosophy of government second. And my politics third,”
That sums up what people most like and most hate about him: applying his religion to public policy.
- For: the Iraq War, the Patriot Act (government spying on citizens), capital punishment, ALEC, Koch brothers, coal industry, Israel, free press, free trade, TPP, blue lives, charter schools and vouchers.
- Against: abortion, gay rights, gun control, net neutrality, the 2008 bail-out of Wall Street, GM and Chrysler, the 2009 economic stimulus, “reverse discrimination”, Obamacare.
- Doubts: evolution, global warming.
He has been silent about Black Lives Matter.
Disagreements with Trump: Pence called Trump’s ban on letting Muslims into the US “offensive and unconstitutional”. He also disagrees with Trump on the Iraq War, free trade and a free press.
– Abagond, 2016.
- 2016 US election for president
- Moral Mondays – which has protested in Indiana against his policies
- Irish Americans