Last month, the unthinkable happened. A racist, bigoted, egomaniac and autocrat with no experience became the President-Elect. Yes, I’m talking about Donald Trump. Trump is dangerous for America. Not just for the minorities and groups of people he has targeted or promoted a strong hate rhetoric towards (Muslims, people of color, immigrants, LGBTQ people, women and people with disabilities) but for the nation itself. His policies will likely send this nation back into a great recession, after we spent the last decade crawling back from the last one. His policies will likely cause unrepairable destruction to the environment seeing how he thinks climate change is a myth. Foreign relations –we’re probably just under North Korea now, with the most unstable dictator prone to fits and temper tantrums. National security – I just pray someone else holds onto those nuclear codes.
I thought America was broken, but I never thought it was so broken that I would write something about Trump’s America. His America is terrifying, and I say that as a gender nonconforming, LGBT, and disabled person. I am terrified. But as I start to move on in my grief from shock, something has become crystal clear: We cannot allow Donald Trump to get impeached.
Backing up a minute, I am all for any and all efforts to prevent him from becoming President in the first place. Peaceful protests, campaigning for the Electoral College to actually do what it was meant to do in the first place, and protect us from someone like Trump by voting as faithless electors. I am going back and forth between self-care and efforts to prevent the horrific catastrophe that is a Trump presidency, but if it doesn’t go my way, and Trump is inaugurated, then I need everyone to hear me now, and to listen. Trump cannot be impeached, because there is someone who would be even more devastating to this country and minorities, and if Trump is impeached that person would become our next President. I’m talking about Trump’s VP, Mike Pence.
Mike Pence, like Trump, is bad for America. He’s dangerous, but what most people don’t consider is that he is actually far more dangerous than Trump is. Trump is a showman, he puts his racism and misogyny on like a show, parading it around and throwing it in our faces. This isn’t what a good politician would do, and in this way Pence is a “good” politician. He knows better than to say, “I’m a bigot. Bigot pride!” But make no mistake, Pence is just as hateful as Trump is. He wants to target the same people Trump does. He wants to take away rights, and plunge the economy into a bottomless void to protect the rich and screw over the poor. But unlike Trump, Pence has experience. Even more than that, he has the support of the Republican Party because Pence is a puppet the GOP can control. Trump is a wild card who is harder to control.
On the record, Mike Pence has stated that he is, “a Christian, a conservative, and a Republican, in that order.” Pence led the federal government to the brink of shutdown in 2011 in his efforts to defund Planned Parenthood. In 2015, he signed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), which essentially legalized discrimination against LGBTQ people. After the country turned against him for doing so, instead of listening or backpedaling, he defended the bigoted bill, and still does. Pence who is well-liked in the Republican Party since he first took public office in 2000, is a much greater threat to individual civil liberties than Trump ever was.
Trump is a racist. Yes. But besides inciting hate, he does not have the experience to put that hate into policy. Pence is apparently a master at creating legislation that is nothing more than institutionalized bigotry. He pushes a Christian agenda that will put people of other faiths, such as Muslims, at greater risk when it comes to policy. His entire career has been built on trying to take away the rights of women and LGBTQ people, and he hasn’t been entirely unsuccessful in either pursuit.
In some ways, Mike Pence and Donald Trump are the same. Racist, misogynistic, homophobic. Small men full of hate. But there is a greater evil between the two of them, and it’s not the one that most people think. Trump is hateful because he is, but it isn’t a mission or cause or something he feels deep down to his core. He’s just a bigot. Pence on the other hand is a proud bigot who believes he has been “chosen” because he knows the Lord. Trump is bad, and I don’t think he said things just to say them – I know he is hateful, but I also know he isn’t a zealot. He wants to get a reaction; he wants people to worship him. Pence believes he is doing God’s work. They are both extremists of sorts, but there is no greater threat, than an extremist with a cause.
Trump wants the attention and wants to feel important. I have no doubt he believes in his campaign platforms, but I also believe they are much more forgettable to him than they are to Pence. If Trump is President, these things may not be as much of a priority to institutionalize. But with Pence, they’re the first priority.
So women, LGBT folk, non-Christians, people of color, people with disabilities – I see your fear with Trump. I feel it. It echoes my own. But should Trump reach office then we have to do our best to make sure he maintains that office, and as more than just a figurehead, for the four years we have to put up with him. Because your fear is valid. You’re right to be afraid. But it is the alternative that should really terrify you. If Trump becomes our next President, but doesn’t last a full term, then all of this – the past few days – is going to seem easy compared to what’s coming. A Trump world may be terrifying, but a Pence world is something beyond that.