Now that Donald Trump has picked Mike Pence for his running mate, people all over the political spectrum are chiming in on the merits of the pick.
As to be expected, Hillary Clinton wasted no time in criticizing Pence. Let’s be real here. Clinton was going to criticize Trump’s pick no matter who the pick turned out to be, even if the pick were the USA’s version of Mother Teresa. It wouldn’t be surprising if Clinton had her anti-whoever speech written in advance, leaving her to fill in the name whenever the pick was revealed.
At the opposite end of the political spectrum, verbal-bomb thrower Ann Coulter lashed out at Pence in a series of tweets, among which is this one:
Trump’s first mistake? What alternate reality is Coulter living in? Trump has made so many mistakes that he has driven people toward favoring Clinton. If she wins, then it will be because of his numerous mistakes.
Coulter’s chief complaint about Pence has to do with his support of a fix to Indiana’s controversial 2015 Religious Freedom Restoration Act. What Coulter overlooks is the fact that Pence didn’t create the fix by gubernatorial fiat. From news station FOX59 in Indianapolis:
“Standing among a group of Indianapolis business and community leaders, Statehouse leaders said they had fixed the divisive Religious Freedom Restoration Act that created a national outcry. House Speaker Brian Bosma, R-Indianapolis, and Senate President Pro Tem David Long, R-Fort Wayne, said they consulted with business leaders and members of the LGBT community to fix the bill. Both said the law had been misrepresented and needed to be changed because of the perception that it could be used to discriminate against the LGBT community.”
Republican members of the Indiana legislature decided that Indiana’s 2015 Religious Freedom Restoration Act was being misinterpreted. So, they passed clarifying legislation, which Gov. Pence then signed.
Does the act of Pence signing the clarification make him unfit to be Vice-President? No, it does not.
If anything, Pence was the best pick that Trump could have made, as Nate Silver explains:
“In Pence, Trump would basically be getting a “generic Republican”: a 57-year-old white man; the governor of a midsize, red-leaning state; someone with very conservative but otherwise conventionally Republican policy positions. That’s probably a good thing, because a generic Republican at the top of the ticket would have a heck of a chance against Hillary Clinton, whose unpopularity would be record-breaking if not for Trump himself.”
One fact about Pence may strengthen his appeal to some parties. As Washington Post columnist Amber Phillips reports, Pence “likes to describe himself as ‘a Christian, a conservative and a Republican, in that order’.”
NPR quotes Pence as saying, “For me it all begins with faith; it begins with what matters most, and I try and put what I believe to be moral truth first. My philosophy of government second. And my politics third.”
Whether or not Pence intended to do so, he has expressed a reality that is often lost on people on the political Right: The Christian faith is separate from Conservative politics. As this writer has previously stated, the Christian faith is politically neutral, which is why devout Christians can be Democrats as well as Republicans.
Anyway, did Trump make the right choice in picking a running mate? The world will find out in November.