Would Pence Be the Lesser of Two Evils?

Deep dive into Pence with 2 contrasting views. PNM shareholder resolution vote shocking, and another Trump shock. And since it’s a bleak political scene, might as well have fun: we present a Retake betting pool — pick the date Trump is out and win …

Please note, that the ‘listening’ training that a partner group had announced for canvassers that was scheduled for today, has been cancelled. Retake will work to incorporate listening training in a larger training that is in the works.

After a few updates–click here for an array of events coming up including today’s sign-making party in preparation for the Roundhouse Rally on the 24th and –Retake presents two excellent articles, one suggesting we are better with Trump and the second taking the opposite view. Very entertaining and insightful articles

Late-breaking News. I just got word that the Climate Change resolution introduced at the PNM shareholders meeting, though it lost, was a virtual tie: Of the 64M votes cast, voting for: 32,010,935; voting against: 32,078,368. We lost by only 67,433 votes. Or put another way: 50.053% to 49.947% of shareholder votes cast. That is a virtual tie, and is no doubt going to send ripples through the PNM board, shareholders and management, as well as the entire fossil fuel industry. I must admit, however, to have come that close….damn, damn.

Retake in Solidarity with AT&T Strikers. No, there wasn’t a huge crowd, but Craig O’Hare and I, along with Democratic Socialist of America member and Retake supporter Ken Baumann, were proud to stand with AT&T strikers yesterday on the corner of Cerrillos and Rodeo with AT&T signs and the Retake banner. It was late notice posting about this only hours before the strike, but it is important that Retake supporters show solidarity by showing up to support workers, immigrants, and others whose rights are being threatened.


The Crux of Trump’s Problems.  The headlines tell us every day of an unraveling presidency — a semi-paranoid, narcissistic, and increasingly delusional President. From Reuters, an excellent two-paragraph synopsis of the current political context:

“At the same time, Trump’s failure to fill senior roles at federal agencies means he does not have a cadre of loyalists who can help rein in a bureaucracy that many in Trump’s orbit believe are out to leak information intended to damage the president. That has worsened the isolation of the White House in a city that relies on friends and allies to shake off a crisis.

The result is problems on multiple fronts: a government whose bonds with Congress, federal agencies, and the public look increasingly fractured; an ambitious but stalled program of reforms; and a president whose low approval ratings threaten his party’s control of Congress in the 2018 midterm elections.”

Click here for a very good Reuters story on the evolving situation. This leads to a brief diversion about the odds and time frame for a possible Trump exit, either by resignation or impeachment, followed by a more thoughtful consideration of whether this would be a good thing. There we present two sides to a possible Pence presidency.

What are the Odds?  The meme at left is out of date. The odds change hourly with one misstep after another. Sky Bet is now offering 2/1 odds that Trump will cease to be president in 2017, 9/2 odds for 2018, 7/1 odds in 2019, and 16/1 in 2020. For a full report on odds from bookie agencies in London and Vegas, click here. The political scene is so disgusting, Retake wants to add a bit of frivolity. We are asking to you use the comment box at the bottom of this post to give the date you predict that Trump will cease to be President. The winner will get a free Retake Our Democracy button, have their picture posted on the Retake blog the day after Trump ceases to be President (you will need to send me a photo), and gift certificate for a breakfast burrito at Santa Fe Baking Co. when it reopens soon. Yay….and owned by former staff!!

The Lesser of Two Evils Debated

While it is imperative that we find ways to smile in the face of oppression, we also have to be cognizant of the scope of the challenge. And as long as Dr. StrangeTrump is president, his astonishing incompetence and hubris inoculate us against his actually implementing much of anything. Even his executive orders get stalled in the courts, and while it is hardly insignificant, the only thing he has gotten through Congress has been the Gorsuch appointment (funny aside, when I typed in Gorsuch, spell check corrected it to “grouch”). I digress. Trump’s inability to do much other than Tweet has protected us from his threatened healthcare bill, tax ‘deform’ bill, and budget. That will not be the case if Pence becomes president. So we consider, would Trump’s leaving be a good thing? Here is the classic example of the lesser of two evils where the more evil is entirely unclear. Fortunately, I found two good articles taking each position.

Clearly, “better” is relative.

Better Off with Pence. The source for both of these analyses is a Progressive Christian site, so there is more comfort with Pence’s religious extremism than I share, but both writers clearly are very progressive and provide very insightful discussions. That the second cross references the first is also helpful. The first piece by Erin Wathen illustrates Pence’s theology: “Do I agree with his theology? Hell nah. It is harmful, and I’ve expounded on that in other posts….I’d like to think that a President who at least believes in a higher power could muster up a certain degree of humility on occasion.” And as the closing quotes below indicate, the author is very aware of Pence’s racism, homophobia, patriarchy, and other serious flaws. But she also points to 11 thoughtful reasons why a Pence presidency would be more stable, less likely to lead to an impulsive nuclear war, less dramatic (no late night twitters), and that for all Pence’s hateful positions, he is not a narcissist. “Whatever I may think of his politics (terrible) or his personal beliefs (gross) he is not a complete narcissist, incapable of taking feedback or gathering input from trusted and informed sources.”   

She closes with “Pence exhibits his own brand of racism; his own harmful kind of patriarchy; his own willful ignorance of poverty, and an overt homophobia that might set equality back a few decades. But these are all things we can fight. These are all issues that we can resist at local and state levels…provided we remain a functional democratic system. And, you know, that we don’t get blown off the map by North Korea.” And then she opines:  “This would be so much more fun if nuclear arms were not involved.” I recommend the article highly, both for its sense of play and content. For the full article, click here.

Worse Off with Pence. From the same Patheos source comes an article that references the one above, but takes a 180-degree different position. After acknowledging that we would indeed be relieved of the chaotic, unpredictable, and dangerous Trump, John WL Berry identifies all the reasons Pence is more of a threat to our values. After characterizing Trump as more a bumbling drunk without a plan that can harm, more by coincidence than by plan, he contrasts him to Pence.

“Down the same street comes President Pence. Stone cold sober and calculating every step. You are the target. He and his gang want to harm you. They want to make an example of you. They crowd you like school-yard bullies. They poke you and test your defenses. They mock you and try to provoke a reaction, a justification for what is about to happen. The attack intensifies. Any who are your allies are targeted also. Family, friends, casual associates are all vilified. You are isolated. You are a woman. You are gay. You are an atheist. You are black. You are an immigrant. You are poor.”

Berry introduces his list of five reasons why Pence would be worse with this: “Trump, devoid of any moral or intellectual moorings and driven by unvarnished narcissism, is undoubtedly bad for America. But the studied and deliberate crafting of policies, driven by a mixture of corporate fealty, theological dominionism, and a survival of the fittest society is far worse.” Among the five reasons, Berry identifies Pence’s positions in relation to women, LGBTQ, the poor, the elderly, and healthcare, with each discussion providing links. Berry also provides links to articles on Pence’s positions in relation to the environment, reproductive health, immigration, and freedom of the press before concluding to acknowledge that Wathen’s concern about Trump’s potential for impulsively starting a nuclear war is a huge concern. Not exactly a minor deal. Click here for a very good piece that will give you an excellent and frightening view of what a Pence presidency might look like.

In conclusion, this is a classic example of the lesser of two evils, where both options are entirely evil. Aside from being interested in seeing when folks predict Trump will exit, I am interested in hearing comments on people’s views of which situation would be worse. But please read the articles first.

In solidarity,

Paul and Roxanne




Categories: Actions, Pence

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6 replies

  1. October 10, 2017

  2. Frightening as Trump is–floundering, ignorant, and unpredictable–Pence would be worse in many respects. World leaders are flummoxed, amazed, and probably somewhat bemused, privately, at Trump’s antics. Trump knows nothing of government and how it works, and he looks like the madman he is. Pence, au contraire, wears ties of normal length and looks like a presentable predictable politician. He won’t be taunting North Korea or starting nuclear wars. He will surround himself with people who know something about government, even if they don’t share our views about its role. He is a solid Middle American churchgoing politician of the 19th century. And as the Republicans think ahead to 2020, they will likely see that Pence offers them a better chance of retaining the presidency because he looks like what a politician is supposed to look like. Although a professed Christian, he takes an Old Testament view when it comes to LGBTQ rights or the privacy and health rights of women; and he will be delighted to maintain a huge federal prison population in privately run prisons, combining biblical vengeance with modern capitalism. If Trump is dangerous because of his unpredictability, Pence is dangerous because he is oh-so-predictable.

  3. December 4, 2018

  4. Trump steps down (before he’s impeached,) soon after the August recess. I’d say September 1, 2017.

  5. trump has discredited the tea party with the sentient electorate; pence will discredit the christian taliban. the suffering of the public will be immense either way; the possibility of military madness equal; the repression comparable. but the undercutting of second pillar of the confederepublican party would make a pence presidency electorally useful to progressives. $0.02.

  6. Each of them is engendering a resistance, and will continue to do so. The resistance will likely win out in the long run, after who knows how much damage is done by both of these men and their supporters. Implicit in your question is the idea that maybe we shouldn’t fight too too hard for Trump’s impeachment if Pence will be worse. Like unhappy families, each is terrible in his own way, and we should fight Trump with every fiber of our being … and if he is impeached or jailed or resigns, we should fight Pence just as hard.
    Honestly I’m a bit allergic to the “who is worse” question. I hear people saying, Trump is worse than GW Bush. Bush was worse than Reagan. Etc. But Reagan and his cohort gave rise to GW Bush, who, with his cohort, gave rise to Trump. Each is the descendant of the previous one, along with the movements and media environments around them. Democrats and progressives need to take control of their movements, messages, districts, candidates, etc., and fight til we win.

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