What could happen if Mike Pence becomes president? It’s a question that’s been asked almost since Trump finished his dystopian inauguration speech. And the volume has been escalating amid the president’s bungled handling of his call to a Gold Star widow, his continued Twitter threats against North Korea, the slow build of the Russia investigation and his daily lying about matters large and small. Whether the 25th Amendment removes Trump from office (a long shot, most analysts say) or a Trump impeachment happens down the pike, here are some reasons why Pence presidency could be a frightening scenario itself.
The Koch brothers could control the presidency.
Billionaire industrialists Charles and David Koch are “arguably the most powerful and influential funders of anti-government, anti-tax, anti-environment causes and candidates,” writes David Horsey in the Los Angeles Times, favoring big business and the 1% at the expense of the middle class and progressives. They had planned to spend $889 million on the 2016 campaign, but decided not to support Trump. Yet: “They were pleased as punch with the elevation of Pence and are certainly even more pleased that the vice president helped usher into government so many people who are eagerly serving the economic interests of billionaires, big corporations and the fossil fuel industry,” writes Horsey.
“If Pence were to become president for any reason, the government would be run by the Koch brothers — period,” Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) told Jane Mayer of The New Yorker. “He’s been their tool for years.”
The government could tilt further toward theocracy.
Pence’s oft-discussed religious piety isn’t just for show — it seems to drive every significant decision he makes. “Even behind closed doors, Pence’s moral rectitude and deep religiosity govern his affect and decision-making,” writes Jason Zengerle in GQ. “During political or policy deliberations, the surest way for an adviser to win him over is to invoke God. In fact, says the former [GOP] adviser, when Pence was deciding whether to join the ticket of Trump, a thrice-married libertine, a Christ-like argument was offered in favor of accepting the offer. ‘Proximity to people who are off the path,’ Pence was reminded, ‘allows you to help them get on the path.'”
According to FiveThirtyEight, Pence “is widely regarded as the impetus behind Trump’s signing of a religious-liberty executive order, reaffirming the protections of the 1993 Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which were intended to prohibit the government from placing a “substantial burden” on an individual’s exercise of religion.
LGBT rights could be endangered.
Although it was recently reported that Trump “joked” that Pence “wants to hang” gay people, the devoutly religious vice president has a history of anti-LGBT views.
As governor of Indiana, he signed a religious-liberty bill that allowed businesses to discriminate against gays. He has a long history of opposing gay marriage, and the archived version of his 2000 congressional campaign website includes his position against gay anti-discrimination laws: “Congress should oppose any effort to recognize homosexuals as a ‘discreet and insular minority’ entitled to the protection of anti-discrimination laws similar to those extended to women and ethnic minorities.” The site says that federal funding shouldn’t be given to “organizations that celebrate and encourage the types of behaviors that facilitate the spreading of the HIV virus.” And it says that “resources should be directed toward those institutions which provide assistance to those seeking to change their sexual behavior.”
Women’s rights might not be far behind.
Pence is an anti-abortion hard-liner. As governor of Indiana, Pence pushed to mandate burials for aborted fetuses and made it possible to charge doctors who carried out certain abortions with wrongful death. A President Pence’s ability to appoint anti-choice justices to the Supreme Court could endanger any challenge to Roe v. Wade.
He has also drawn equal parts ridicule and concern for his retrograde attitudes toward women, calling his wife, Karen, “Mother,” insisting she accompany him to functions where alcohol is served and refusing to dine alone with another woman.
Trump’s war on the media could continue.
Think Trump’s cries of “fake news” would leave office with him? Maybe not. As governor of Indiana, Pence attempted to start his own taxpayer-funded news service to cover his administration. In the winter of 2015, the Indianapolis Star discovered that Pence was about to launch a site called JustIN, a news outlet run by a former Star reporter that would provide pre-written news stories to media. Although Pence claimed it was just a revamp of the state’s PR efforts, he killed the site following an outcry.