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Focus must be on Mike Pence as Donald Trump begins US presidency

Pence's radical crusades may quietly find an easy medium through Trump -- while the latter is occupied and focused on making headlines.

Written by Nandini Rathi | New Delhi |
January 27, 2017 7:38:17 pm
Mike Pence, Donald Trump, Vice President Mike Pence, US Vice President Pence, VP Mike Pence, VP Pence, Donald Trump Mike Pence, US VP Mike Pence, Republican Mike Pence, Governor Mike Pence, Trump presidency Mike Pence President-elect Donald Trump, left, stands with Vice President-elect Mike Pence during the presidential inaugural Chairman’s Global Dinner, Tuesday, Jan. 17, 2017, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

President Donald Trump is not the kind of man to concentrate on or deliberate over policy issues. Since his term began, the issues that have concerned him the most are the size of the inauguration day crowd and voter fraud which he claims afforded Hillary Clinton the popular majority win. In both cases, the claims have zero evidence and a high publicity value (In Trump era, that combination is almost a no brainer). There is also the controversial wall along the Mexican border and the unending attacks on mainstream US media in an effort to delegitimise the journalist community as far as possible to his supporters.

Trump has always been an attention-hungry creature. As Gail Collins of the New York Times points out, there has to be someone behind the scenes who is managing the non-ego, low-hype share of work. That person is likely to be Vice President Mike Pence. And his record of feeling legit about pushing his radical, ultra-conservative Christian values on other people with different beliefs is well known.

Donald Trump in his campaign days did not readily speak out about his views on abortion and reproductive rights. Only when pointedly asked, would he proclaim that he was pro-life and proceed to use provocative rhetoric like “ripping the baby” to rally his conservative supporters. Before his Presidential ambitions were birthed, Trump had indeed been vocally pro-choice. Since he decided to run for president, of course his avowed views underwent a radical evolution towards the right. As soon as he came to the White House, in a fervour unseen during his campaign days, one of his first executive orders was to reinstate the Global Gag rule – the policy that would cut off American aid to those health programs in other countries which provide abortion services. And this time, that trademark Republican move is in an even bigger and wider avatar of its Reagan-Bush days. This can be possibly attributed to two causes – a new President’s desire to markedly overturn the last administration’s legacy to impress his supporters and to Mike Pence’s radical crusades which find an easy medium through Trump.

While Trump’s blatant sexism is abhorring and despicable in its own right, it is Pence who has the most black marks against women’s health and rights in the Republican Party. For instance, as a member of the Congress, Pence had co-sponsored a bill that would allow hospitals to deny abortions to pregnant women who would die without the procedure. He is also vocally very anti-LGBTQ rights.

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The speculations (and silent hopes) of the possibility of President Trump’s impeachment before the end of four years are not unheard of – the likely possibilities discussed include emergence of evidence about his ties with Putin’s Russia or conflicts in the job with his colossal business interests. Even if that happens, it’s difficult to say to what extent it would actually undercut Trump’s public support. The Republican Party, which has a clear majority in the House, would not care to distance itself from him through impeachment if their electorate by and large stood by Trump.

And after all that, even if President Trump is forced to resign, there is the 25th Amendment of the American Constitution which removes the President and replaces him with the Vice President. Mike Pence would get the job, without having to even lift a finger.

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