Tuesday, July 19, 2016

My Tuppence Worth

I’m sure you all know that Trump has chosen my Governor, Mike Pence, as his running mate. A few friends from other states have asked me for my opinion and experience with having Pence as the Governor of Indiana. This was my comment to one of them, and I thought I’d share it here with a little light editing.


I don't hate the guy personally because he does seem to be a somewhat decent man who is no fan of negative campaigning. His campaigns have generally focused on the "issues" (I put that in quotes for a reason, as you'll see) rather than on mud-slinging and attacking his opponent on a personal level.

For that reason, it amazes me that he would align himself with Trump. Not only do they not agree on many things (Pence is pro-trade, called Trump's ban on Muslims unconstitutional, for a couple of examples), I would imagine that Pence finds Trump distasteful, vulgar, and immoral on many levels. The only thing that occurs to me is that he is positioning himself for his own White House bid, something everyone figured he would attempt eventually. He is also in a very tight race for re-election, and there has been some speculation that he was lobbying for the VP slot because he was afraid he wasn't going to be re-elected. I think there is probably some merit in that.

Having said all that, I can tell you that I find his policies abhorrent. I can't begin to tell you the way he's screwed my state over. His tax cuts have hurt our public schools terribly. The Democrats in the Statehouse have been pushing for an infrastructure bill because our roads and bridges are crumbling. Over 10% of our bridges have been deemed structurally deficient. The Repubs in the Statehouse refuse to consider it and Trump refuses to lead on the issue.

Instead, he focuses on social issues. As you know, even when in Congress, he constantly tried to defund Planned Parenthood. His policies have seriously harmed the organization in Indiana. I read just yesterday that several clinics are closing, including the one I used in Muncie while at Ball State. That's right, a clinic in a college town is closing! I couldn't believe it.

There was the recent bill he signed about fetuses having to be buried or incinerated that was halted as unconstitutional by a federal judge. That bill led to the Periods for Pence site, in which women asked him questions about their periods and checked in when their flow was particularly heavy, and so forth. It's been quite amusing to watch.

Then there was the "state-run news website" that he attempted to pay for with state funds. He seemed completely clueless as to why that was a bad thing or why it goes against freedom of the press.

And of course, there was the famous Religious Freedom Restoration Act that he signed into law, making us a laughing stock of the world and costing our state MILLIONS in tourist dollars and new business. Again, he seemed utterly shocked by the pushback from both citizens and businesses, despite intensive lobbying by huge corporations like Eli Lilly who repeatedly said that it would be very bad for business. When he finally got the message and had our Congress add a non-discrimination clause in there, the Christian conservatives who had pushed him on it felt betrayed. So they were mad at him, too. In short, it was a complete clusterfuck, and he seemed completely gobsmacked by the whole thing.

Along with many of my friends, I called the Governor's office (after assuring that my Democrat legislators were going to vote against the RFRA bill...didn't matter, because our Statehouse is in Repub hands) to voice my opposition to the bill. I was unable to get through to the Governor's office. The phone rang and rang and rang, with no option to leave a voice message. I truly believe that they were just not answering the phone.

In his time in office, I can think of one good thing that he has done: he expanded Medicaid under the ACA in Indiana. He had to tweak it his own way, but it was approved by the Federal government and it has helped a lot of Hoosiers. So I'll give him that.

But otherwise, his policies and attitudes and willingness to push his religious beliefs on my entire state, even at the expense of the civil and reproductive rights of certain groups of Hoosiers, makes my skin crawl. I was looking forward to booting him out of office this fall. My wish came a little early! But we need to make sure that he doesn't get anywhere near the White House.

One additional thing (although this is long enough). I don't know if you happened to see the 60 Minutes interview with Trump and Pence last night. It was laughable. Pence was completely deferential to Trump, to the point of where he let him answer questions for him even when he was asked one directly, and often seemed to look to Trump as if asking permission to speak. Trump said, "It's okay, you can answer that." It was UNREAL.

So I will sum him up by saying that he's a right-wing, ultra-conservative toady who wants to push policies that further his Christian right agenda, even when they trample the Constitution that he claims to love so much.