Does Pence have a Future in Politics?
From a conservative viewpoint, VP Pence was a movement hero when he served in the United States House of Representatives. He was consistently committed to the bedrock of conservatism – limited government, low taxes, personal freedom and devotion to the Constitution.
When Donald Trump announced his campaign for presidency, there was not a lot of certainty on how he would govern. He talked a good conservative game, but it was still just talk. People like me cast our vote in 2016 for Trump out of hope. And a clear rejection of the increasingly radical policies of the Democratic Party, in general, and Hillary Clinton, specifically.
The first sign of optimism that Trump would govern from a foundation of traditional conservative values was when he chose Pence as his running mate. At the time, I suggested that Trump should hit the road a lot as the salesman for his proposals and policies and have Pence serve as a super-chief-of-staff – running the day-to-day operations at the White House. As President, Trump would still set the administration’s agenda and policies. But he would be spared the nitty-gritty – but very important – detail work.
Of course, that would have been a significant departure from the traditional role of vice presidents. Outside of presiding over the Senate (which they rarely do) – and voting when there is a tie – the vice presidency is an office without any specified duties. Its real role is to stand in the wings as an understudy. They prepare to take on the leading role when the star performer cannot.
Benjamin Franklin referred to the vice president as “His Superfluous Excellency.” Fellow Founder and the nation’s first Vice President John Adams said, “The vice presidency is the most insignificant office that ever the invention of man contrived, or his imagination conceived.”
Harry Truman — who served as President Franklin Roosevelt’s Vice President — claimed that the person in that job is as useful as a “cows fifth teat.”
Vice President John Nance Gardner said the office is not worth a “bucket of warm piss.” In more gentle times, his quote was bowdlerized to be “a bucket of warm spit.”
Humorist Will Rogers said the only duty of vice president is to wake up and ask, “How is the President.”
On the other hand, Presidents have assigned special projects to their second in line. Vice President Harris has been charged with dealing with the border crisis. Pence was handed the White House Corona Virus Task Force.
No matter the duties assigned, the Vice President always functions as a supporter of the President … period. Vice President Nelson Rockefeller made that point clear when he said, “I am not in a leadership position. I am supporting the president.” That is the reality of it even when a Vice President might personally disagree with the President.
In that regard, Pence has been a perfect Vice President. In many ways, he was more effective and credible in selling Trump’s policies than was Trump, himself.
Up until the certification of the presidential election by the Congress, Pence was popular with Trump, Trump supporters, Republican leaders and voters – and many among the nonpartisan public. He was the most likely person to succeed Trump in the presidency.
Pence has become controversial only because he COULD NOT do what Trump demanded – stop the certification by edict as presiding officer during the certification process. No demand by Trump – and no action by Pence, the demonstrators or rioters at the Capitol Building were going to change the outcome.
We must remember that 45 of the 50 Republican senators – including many of the most conservative – voted for certification. In fact, the Capitol Hill riot INCREASED the number of GOP votes. Some of those who previously were going to object decided to vote to certify.
Regardless, Trump yielded to his worst nature and attacked Pence. In turn, this had the more irrational elements on Capitol Hill’s call for Pence’s lynching. Although it would be a mistake to believe they would actually carry out their hyper-impassioned riotous rhetoric.
Regardless, it has left the idolatrous faction of the Trump base with seemingly unresolvable animus toward the former Vice President. And we have to factor that into any assessment of Pence’s political prospects.
If you look at the Pence record – apart from Trump hatred or Trump idolatry – you find a man with consistent conservative values throughout his career. If Pence were the Republican nominee in 2024, I would support him over the radical left forces that have taken control of a previously left-wing Democratic Party.
I would vote for any number of the potential Republican candidates over whatever the Democratic Party had to offer. And that includes Trump. That is because every election is a choice between political values, issues and philosophy – and a choice between candidates. That’s why I frequently wrote of my disrespect of those who joined the Democrats over a personal dislike of Trump. This handed Democrats the power to do everything we conservatives disdain.
Candidates are only the vehicles of policy. They do not – or at least should not –supersede it. That is why I voted for Trump despite a personality I personally dislike. I do admire his policies and accomplishments.
Despite his harsh criticism of Pence, the former Vice President still maintains a friendly attitude and relationship with Trump. Partly for pragmatic reasons and partly because that is Pence’s nature.
For now, Pence is wisely staying out of the fray – hunkering down in his home state of Indiana. If he is considering a run for President in 2024, he will eventually return to the public forum. He will come to it with more respect and more support than those who are heeding Trump’s current “who will rid me of this priest” attitude.
And knowing Trump, if he decides against running – and he does not have a designated successor in the family – the former President could be Pence’s number one booster. At which time the Pence political lynch mob will become his most ardent supporters.
There is a lot of political asphalt between here and 2024, and the preliminary posturing is already taking place. No matter how things roll out, conservatives and patriots should hold Pence in high regard for all he has done for the conservative movement – and all he can do in the future.
So, there ‘tis.