Don't Fall For Pence's Politeness. He's Just as Bad As Trump

In Wednesday night’s U.S. Vice Presidential Debate between Sen. Kamala Harris and Vice President Mike Pence, Pence proved that deceit wears many faces—this time, a less bronzed, calmly expressionless one. It’s not quite what we’re accustomed to with President Donald Trump’s trademark aggression. Pence is far less likely to fly off the handles in a press briefing or exercise his Twitter fingers, but his brand is no less dangerous than that of Trump’s. If anything, his calm, collected, and firm demeanor is a more subtle tactic of gaslighting Americans with the same lies that Trump has touted for the entirety of his presidency.

During the VP debate, Pence pulled the same stunts as Trump by refusing to answer questions directly (like the president, Pence often veered off into unsubstantiated claims of how the current administration has handled issues from COVID-19 to racial injustice), repeatedly talking over the moderator (in one particularly grueling moment, moderator Susan Page said “thank you, Vice President” no less than six times), and disrespecting his opponent on stage through non-stop microaggressions (like constantly interrupting her).

Pence’s ability to spout lies is, in some ways, even more insidious than Trump’s because he is able to present himself as a respectable candidate without being held accountable. Despite his claims of being on the side of the American people, Pence has been a major player in the stripping of civil rights, environmental policies, and reproductive rights during his time as a politician. His position as leader of the COVID-19 task force has cost more than 200,000 Americans their lives. His willingness to be complicit in going along with Trump’s lies makes him just as equally responsible for the irreversible damage they have done to the country.

Pence’s mannerisms highlighted just how dangerous respectability is when there are no consequences. His conviction and sincerity is ultimately the most alarming tool in the Trump toolbox since it can more easily disguise itself and manipulate the American people. He doesn’t talk under his breath or roll his eyes like Trump. He speaks in a steady tone that sounds legit, but distracts you from what he’s actually saying. This was certainly on display when he attempted to undermine Harris by using condescending remarks about not being entitled to facts (which is particularly hypocritical from the administration that invented the phrase “alternative facts”) and an attempted call-out for not answering a question (Pence rarely answered a question with a direct answer).

Pence’s mannerisms highlighted just how dangerous respectability is when there are no consequences.

Ultimately, Pence is trying to have it both ways: appearing as the mild-mannered conservative while having free reign to tell lies and pass harmful policies. His congratulatory comments to the American people for their COVID-19 sacrifices are nothing short of a slap in the face, as if Americans had a say in the irresponsible oversight from the Trump administration that led to unnecessary deaths, historic unemployment rates, and a housing crisis. While Pence is attempting to position himself as an advocate for Americans, his policies and role in the Trump administration has made him anything but.

What this country needs isn’t a vice president who can lie well; it needs an administration that will actually care about the well-being of its people and the land they live on. Mike Pence has proven himself to be not that person over and over again and despite what his words say otherwise, neither he nor the Trump administration will ever be on the side of the American people they claim to represent.

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