Mike Pence is one of the more feeble vice presidents in recent memory. Trump selected him in 2016 for little more than his throbbing evangelicalism, and four years later that’s still about all Pence is worth. A few tough guy photo ops here, a couple media appearances there; parrot what the boss said, ratchet up the fear, do it with a serious face, and go home.
— The Hill (@thehill) August 27, 2020
During his RNC keynote address Wednesday night, Pence told viewers in no uncertain terms that Americans will be in danger if Joe Biden is elected president. The so-called lawlessness currently engulfing American cities would only get worse, valiant police forces would remain under attack, and a national panic would soon set in. It was pure fear-mongering, leaning into the president’s (and entire GOP’s) messaging about Democrats being radical enemies of the United States. It’s made all the more rich, of course, by the very obvious contradiction at the center of Pence’s statement.
If Americans won’t be safe in Joe Biden’s America, what does that say about Trump’s?
Nearly 180,000 people are dead from coronavirus, a disease that pretty much every other industrialized nation on earth has managed to get a grip on. The economy is in tatters, leaving millions jobless and without health insurance. The eviction crisis has begun, with millions set to lose their homes in the coming months. Police are still extrajudicially killing Black people, as well as using exceedingly violent tactics to quash protests against them while also openly encouraging armed militia to pull up and stoke more violence. America has never truly been safe for nonwhite people and marginalized communities and one could reasonably argue this is the most unsafe the country has been in its modern history.
According to Pence and other sycophants, Trump is the solution to all these problems he caused because of course he is. There’s nowhere else to go, nothing else to offer besides cracking down and making things worse for his enemies until they give up and comply. No amount of fact or reason or white nationalist teenagers murdering protestors will get in the way of the agenda or his efforts to get reelected. That’s the inherent contradiction of Trumpism in 2020—things are so terrible that only Trump can fix it. Just don’t bother asking who fucked it up in the first place.
For Pence, contradictions like this are the whole game. His entire political career has been cosplaying as the serious politician with deeply unserious (and dangerous) views, particularly about homosexuality. As vice president, he’s postured as the steely-eyed white-haired menace, echoing the president’s hardline stances with a slightly more serious voice and occasionally mean-mugging us out of nuclear war. In reality, he’s one of the most demonstrably useless people in the president’s employ. Pence’s entire function is to pad Trump’s indelicacy and fawn over the president when commanded to do so. Wednesday night he did both, utilizing his contrived Republican earnestness and zero natural charisma to tell Americans who’s putting them in danger. He might as well have been speaking into a mirror.