by Victoria Barrett
Look, it's easy to find out all the ways in which Indiana governor and GOP Vice Presidential candidate Mike Pence is a week-old grease fire under a dumpster in the back lot of a rural KFC. He's advocated for a ton of horrific bullshit and signed bills that are fucking terrible for, well, people. Especially women. The RFRA and abortion controversies were particularly well-designed to garner national attention in a misguided attempt to position himself as a presidential candidate, which of course backfired, as the party backed slowly away from the RFRA disaster, in particular. This is infuriating but well-covered territory. The dude is a walking nightmare for anybody who's not a rich white man.
The abortion bill (which I worked with Planned Parenthood and local activists to try to defeat) wasn't even Pence's preferred approach, to the extent that we mounted a plausible veto campaign. And Pence has been so weak at governing that he was unable to secure the signature tax cuts that made up the core of his campaign, even with an overwhelmingly Republican legislature.
So the high-profile landfill leakage for which Pence is nationally known has all failed miserably: He was forced to amend the RFRA, huge portions of the draconian abortion bill have now been invalidated by SCOTUS, and he's completely ineffective at the actual politicking that's more or less the main job of a VP—running around behind the scenes securing votes for the president's preferred legislation.
Mike Pence's successes have been quieter and more sinister. Take, for example, Pence's Regional Cities Initiative, which is designed to take the tax dollars generated by the state's urban centers (i.e. where all the nonwhite people live) and deliver them disproportionately to the less-densely-populated rural districts that elected his snow-white ass. Notice how the center and northwest corner of the state (Indianapolis and Gary, respectively) are not represented in the program. He's also made a concentrated effort to locate new jobs beyond the reach of residents of urban centers.
Then there's Indiana's school vouchers program, which was started by Mitch Daniels and enhanced by Pence, along with a war he’s fought throughout his term against the incredibly qualified and democratically elected state Schools Superintendent, Glenda Ritz. Pence's work looks like a failed mess, but that's the goal—make public education into a disaster, then argue that it needs to be done away with in its current, totally fucked form.
On the other hand, you may remember the time, in 2011, when then-Representative Pence actively agitated for a government shutdown over the funding of Planned Parenthood, which was evidently worth withholding paychecks from thousands of federal employees and benefits from thousands of veterans over his childish little pet project based on innuendo and lies.
Pence is a failure, in Trump's terms, a "loser." He was likely going to lose his re-election bid for governor. But his spot on the ticket is predicated on his close ties with the Kochs, which ought to disqualify him, except that Donald Trump is reportedly getting a little tired of spending his own money and his fundraising is garbage, so enter Pence.
Is this really somebody we want holding the tie-breaking vote in a Senate that's likely to be very close to an even partisan split?