Rich James: Mike Pence's post-Trump future
Thursday, October 27, 2016 9:17 AM
MERRILLVILLE – If the voters reject Donald Trump and Mike Pence on Nov. 8 – and it appears that they will – is there a political future for either man? I can’t imagine that there will be for Trump, who has been an embarrassment for the Republican Party. Of course, that doesn’t necessarily mean that there will even be a place for Trump in the Republican Party of the future.
Pence is another matter. There are political commentators across the country who have speculated that Pence would go after the GOP presidential nomination in 2020. After all, Pence has looked presidential during this campaign. It doesn’t too much matter that he hasn’t sounded presidential.
If Pence wanted a future in presidential politics, he should have distanced himself from Trump. Pence would have done well to reject Trump’s notion that the election was being stolen from him. Pence should have rejected the notion that the media had the ability to steal an election, as Trump claimed. And, Pence should have rejected Trump’s claim that America no longer is prepared militarily.
There are other reasons why Pence won’t have a future in presidential politics. If the Republican Party is to recover from this disaster, it is going to have to find a new identity. And, the GOP of the future will have to reject some of its far-right principles and move more toward the middle of the political spectrum. That, of course, means the party will have to become more inclusive and reject many of the conservative ideas Pence touted while governor.
Pence’s past won’t play well if he makes a run for president. Pence’s record as governor didn’t come into play, given the introverted nature of Trump’s campaign. But, if he makes his own run for president, Pence will have to talk about his Indiana record. That will include getting rid of the Common Construction Wage Act. It also will include a refusal to support a civil rights bill for all Hoosiers, including lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgenders. He’ll have to talk about his attacks on public education, including efforts to usurp the powers of the superintendent of public instruction.
Just because someone picked you to be a vice presidential candidate doesn’t mean there will be a political future. Just ask Dan Quayle.
Rich James has been writing about state and local government and politics for more than 30 years. He is a columnist for The Times of Northwest Indiana.