The Pence Problem
October 11, 2016
It's a sad day when dialogue from a presidential campaign qualifies for a late-night Cinemax movie script. But alas, that's where we are.
There's no need to repeat what Donald Trump was caught saying in 2005. We've all heard the tapes. It was such big news that it bumped a devastating hurricane as the top story. Trump's vile comments seemed to be the proverbial straw that broke his campaign. Many top Republicans publicly withdrew their support after the tapes were released. Those still on Team Trump have tried to deflect his comments in one of two ways: either to say, "He wasn't running for President at the time," or, "Bill Clinton was just as bad."
The hypocrisy of this defense is as mindboggling as Trump being on the ticket in the first place. Bill Clinton isn't running for President NOW. There's little doubt he's not winning husband of the year and his treatment of women in the past is both wrong and indefensible. But it's also not a factor in this campaign, because he's not actually on the ballot. Just like Melania Trump's stance on immigration doesn't matter, because she is not actually running for President. Further, how well would it go over if Hillary Clinton flippantly responded, "Well, I wasn't running for President then" when asked about her emails? It wouldn't be acceptable, just as it isn't when spewing from the other side.
While I applaud Republicans who have agreed that Trump's comments are unacceptable and have called for him to step down, their plan B isn't going to help them much. Most high-profile Republicans have noted they now intend to write in Mike Pence for President. But saying you plan to dump Trump and instead pick up Pence is kind of like deciding to give up smoking and start snorting cocaine instead, at least if your goal is to appeal to women, which many political analysts agree is the key to winning this November. In all likelihood, this election will be decided by white, suburban, college-educated women. So it would make sense to write in someone that demographic can live with.
Mike Pence is not that man. The guy who attempted to decimate a woman's legal right to abortion, and signed into a law a measure that mandated that fetuses from abortion or miscarriage must be buried or cremated, is not the logical replacement for the guy who brags about sexually assaulting women. Trump may be a sexual predator, but Pence is every judge who made sure he got away with it.
Pence has one of the most extreme records on women's health and rights in the Republican Party. His views are so extreme that many pro-life conservatives don't even agree with him. His obsession with defunding Planned Parenthood is matched only by Donald Trump's obsession with Rosie O'Donnell.
Planned Parenthood provides quality health care for millions of low-income Americans, offering contraception, cancer screenings, testing for sexually transmitted diseases and sex education. That abortions account for only three percent of the organization's services, and that many clinics don't even offer abortions, is of little concern to Pence. He was the first member of Congress to introduce legislation to defund Planned Parenthood, and proudly pushed the issue all the way to a government shutdown fight. As the governor of Indiana, he cut funding for the organization, forcing a Planned Parenthood in Scott County, Indiana, to close. Two years later, Scott County was the epicenter of a devastating HIV outbreak that required federal intervention.
This is what a President Pence looks like: Women dying and suffering from preventable and treatable diseases because their health-care clinic was shut down. Women dying and suffering from complications from pregnancies where an abortion is medically necessary. Women dying and suffering because their right to a safe and legal abortion has been taken from them. Women in jail for seeking an abortion made illegal by Pence.
Pence's penchant for controlling and suppressing women extends beyond his cuts to quality health-care access. He also cut one million dollars from domestic-violence programs and slashed funding for higher education. And let's not forget that he co-sponsored Todd Akin's notorious anti-abortion bill that would have redefined rape as "forcible rape."
When it comes to their record on women, Trump is despicable but Pence is dangerous. And replacing one misogynistic candidate with another isn't going to win over many women voters.
Amy Roberts is a freelance writer, longtime Park City resident, and the proud owner of two rescued Dalmatians, Stanley and Willis. The opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the writer. Follow her on Twitter @amycroberts.