Pence: A man of character and integrity
Lynn Schmidt is a syndicated columnist and Editorial Board member with the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
If you care about liberal democracy here and abroad, while maintaining civility, it might be time to give Vice-President Mike Pence a second look in the Republican primary election. Pence may be ideologically more conservative than many in the electorate, but he is a good and honorable man and the White House, the country, and the world’s stage would be in capable hands with him behind the Resolute desk.
Americans should already know that the former vice-president upheld his oath to the Constitution on Jan. 6, 2021, despite immense pressure and threats to his life. What many may not know is that Pence continues to call out former President Trump, telling an Iowa voter recently “President Trump was wrong about my authority that day. And he’s still wrong.”
During a recent campaign event in Sioux City, Iowa, Pence was confronted by a voter who was unhappy with his actions on Jan. 6. “If it wasn’t for your vote, we wouldn’t have Joe Biden in the White House. Joe Biden shouldn’t be there.” She went on to ask, "Do you ever second guess yourself?" adding "That was a Constitutional right that you had to send those votes back to the states."
Pence responded with “I know by God’s grace I did exactly what the Constitution of the United States required me to do that day. He went on to explain to her in a very respectful manner “The Constitution says you open and count the votes: no more, no less. The Constitution affords no authority for the vice president or anyone else to reject votes or return votes to the states.” The woman remained disgruntled by Pence’s answer, and he told her “I’m sorry, ma’am, but that’s actually what the Constitution says.”
Not only is he committed to the rule of law here in the U.S., but Pence is also dedicated to advancing freedom abroad. He has been vocal of his support of Ukraine and has pushed back on those in the Republican Party who want to abandon Ukraine and the West saying, “The war in Ukraine is not our war but freedom is our fight.” He called America the arsenal of democracy and espoused believing in the Reagan doctrine. He has expressed that the war in Ukraine “is not America’s war, but if Putin is not stopped and the sovereign nation of Ukraine is not restored quickly, he will continue to move toward our NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) allies, and America would then be called upon to send our own."
Former Vice President Mike Pence became the first Republican presidential candidate to visit Ukraine. On June 29th, he and Franklin Graham, who heads the international relief organization Samaritan’s Purse, traveled to Kyiv and met with Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky during the visit.
Pence has also broken from his fellow GOP primary candidates in bringing with him a refreshing dose of decorum. During his CNN town hall meeting, moderator Dana Bash asked Pence, “What would you say to a transgender kid and their family who say this is how I feel comfortable, and I don’t feel comfortable another way and they feel that you are targeting them.” Pence answered without skipping a beat. “I would tell them that I love everybody. I would put my arm around them and their parents. But before they had a chemical or surgical procedure, I would say wait. Just wait. I mean there’s some people, maybe there’s exceptions but most people before you are 18 years of age. There’s a reason we got that cut off for all kinds of categories in our society. You just don’t know what you want in life. You don’t know who you really are. It takes time to become an adult and figure that out. And I would just put my arm around them and tell them I love them but just wait. Just wait. And that’s how we put the interests of our kids first.”
Much of the focus of the town hall was on Pence’s reaction to Trump’s indictments or on January 6 but this exchange showed Pence’s humanity and love for all Americans.
If America is going to again be a beacon of hope atop “the shining city on a hill,” we will need to relight the flame of our democratic values. Whether you vote for a Democrat or Republican, we all should vote for someone of character and integrity. On the Republican side, I think that person is Mike Pence.