Mike Pence: Meet Donald's Trump card - A VP who is worse than him
From the time Donald Trump first announced his candidature, he was seen as a one man circus. A Cirque du Soleil unto himself - a flashy, mad and often dizziness-inducing spectacle, minus, of course, any of the beauty, grace or skill.
The thought of him coming this far - winning the Republican Party's nomination for president - never really crossed anyone's mind until just a few horrifying months ago. Still, against all odds (and notions of good taste) he made it. Which brought us to a question we hoped never to have to ask. Or, worse still, answer. Who would be Donald Trump's running mate?
Previously, names like Sarah Palin, Chris Christie and even Trump's daughter Ivanka were bandied about. But when Trump eventually announced his decision on Twitter, it was none of these but someone relatively unknown to the wider world - Indiana governor, Mike Pence.
I am pleased to announce that I have chosen Governor Mike Pence as my Vice Presidential running mate. News conference tomorrow at 11:00 A.M.— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 15, 2016
Yeah, Trump announced his VP pick on Twitter. Because Trump is hip and fresh like that. Well, as hip and fresh as the words 'hip' and 'fresh' anyway. Still, Trump picked Mike Pence and thus commences the whitest elderly buddy comedy since Grumpy Old Men.
Pence and sensibility
While this announcement may not elicit the sort of over-the-top reaction that Trump usually thrives on, Pence is by no means the worst choice. After all, one of the other front-runners for the VP nomination was Chris Christie, who is absolutely scandal plagued.
Pence, while unknown to those unfamiliar with American politics, is actually very experienced when it comes to legislation and government functioning. Not only is he the sitting governor of Indiana, he's also represented the state in Congress for two terms.
This means that he will bring the sort of experience when it comes to governing that Trump, quite simply, doesn't have.
While any card with Trump on it seems like a recipe for disaster, Pence coming on board has actually made Trump's campaign a lot less ridiculous. Which is not to say Trump's campaign is no longer ridiculous, because, really, how can anyone with that tan and hair be anything but.
Pence is also well connected to industrialists and mainstream Republicans alike, which should help Trump with both funding as well as finding acceptance within the Republican Party.
The conservative's conservative
But, for all the advantages that Pence offers Trump, the man's track record shows that he's exactly the sort of man you'd expect Trump would pick. Which is not a good thing, either for America or the wider world.
When Trump had called for a ban on all Muslims entering the US, Pence had actually lashed out at Trump via Twitter:
Calls to ban Muslims from entering the U.S. are offensive and unconstitutional.— Governor Mike Pence (@GovPenceIN) December 8, 2015
But, before you go thinking something good could come of this, that tweet was where the good news ends.
On the LGBT community
While Trump has thus far danced around his stance on LGBT rights, flipping sides with the sort of nonchalance normally associated with Yelena Isinbayeva, Pence is far more certain. Unfortunately, what he's certain about is that he can't stand the thought of LGBT people.
Pence, who describes himself as "a Christian first", has been vocal in his opposition to the LGBT community. He has, in the past, called being gay "a choice", stated that "societal collapse was always brought about following an advent of the deterioration of marriage and family" and suggested that anti-LGBT laws were merely a way of enforcing god's will.
He has also opposed anti-discrimination workplace laws that would have helped protect LGBT members from homophobic employers, stating that such laws would curb religious freedom. He's even backed legislation that would allow restaurants to refuse service to customers based on their sexual orientation.
Even recently, when North Carolina acted like North Carolina and passed regressive laws that prevented transgenders from using the bathrooms of the gender they associated with, Pence sided against common sense and with North Carolina.
When a politician in the US uses 'Christian' as his major descriptor, very little good can come from it. And so is the case with Pence. In 2015, he signed into law a bill that prevented women from having abortions in case of fetal deformities.
He has also waged war on Planned Parenthood, a nonprofit that provides reproductive health services including abortion. He has repeatedly proposed legislation that would prevent Planned Parenthood from receiving federal funding from Title X, the federal program that provides funds for reproductive health and family planning.
No abortions. But bring on the mass shootings
Trump famously said, in the aftermath of the Paris Bataclan attacks, that the death toll would've been lower had Parisians been allowed the right to carry firearms. A policy that has worked so well in the US that mass shootings will soon be one of America's biggest tourist attractions.
Luckily for Trump, Pence is equally in love with the idea of an armed populace. Not only has he supported legislation allowing parents to keep guns in vehicles parked in school parking lots, he's also backed legislation allowing guns on university campuses.
If that wasn't bad enough, Pence's belief that everyone should carry guns extends as far as supporting gun bills making it easier for repeat alcohol abusers to own guns. How could that possibly go wrong?
Haters gonna hate
But his crowning glory, one that probably sealed the deal as far as Trump was concerned, is Pence's opposition to anti-hate crime legislation. While Trump has made a political career of barely-disguised hate speech, Pence has gone to great lengths to defend America's right to hate.
In 2009, Pence fought against a law that would expand the definition of hate crimes to include gender, gender identity, sexual preference and disabilities.
Pence fought against it on the grounds that, once again, it would curb the religious freedom to be bigoted towards the LGBT community.
While the road ahead is uncertain, Hillary Clinton can at least rest easy in the knowledge that she absolutely cannot pick a worse VP for modern America.