College Democrats around Indiana are strongly denouncing the selection of Mike Pence to be Donald Trump’s running mate. As Hoosiers who have gotten to know him as a Congressman and Governor, we understand that he does not have the ability, competence, or vision to be Vice President. Though we are glad to see him leave statewide office, the thought of him being one heartbeat away from the Presidency is one we cannot ignore.
Governor Pence spent 12 unaccomplished years in the US House of Representatives as the embodiment of congressional dysfunction and dissatisfaction. Pence introduced many extreme right-wing bills during his tenure, only one of which left committee, and none of which passed. His voting record shows a blatant disregard for the health, civil rights, and economic well being of his constituents. He voted against the Affordable Care Act, the landmark healthcare bill that is providing health insurance to thousands of Hoosiers. He voted to allow discrimination in the workplace on the basis of sexuality, to end birthright citizenship, and he voted against the bank bailout in 2008, putting ideology over pragmatism in a time of panic.
Mike Pence’s failures as a Congressman pale in comparison to those as Governor. Since taking office in 2012, he has been so focused on moving himself up the ladder that he’s let our state begin racing to the bottom. He received national attention for his support of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, a bill that effectively legalized discrimination based on sexual orientation. After several businesses threatened economic boycott, a deluge of negative national media attention, and a disastrous interview with George Stephanopoulos, Pence finally relented and removed provisions that allowed for discrimination. Pence’s governorship got more national attention this year, when he signed one of the most draconian, anti-choice, and anti-women abortion bills in the country. Thankfully, this bill was blocked by a federal judge.
Pence has done so much damage in the national spotlight recently that it can be easy to forget the exhaustive list of problems that have plagued his time in government. So, in case you missed some of them, we made a quick list of the highlights:
- He attempted to unconstitutionally block aid for Syrian Refugees.
- He proposed a state-run news site that immediately sparked a public relations nightmare and became a national joke.
- He turned down $80 million dollars in federal pre-K funding, which would have built our preschool infrastructure and improved access for low-income children. The grant had strong bipartisan support from educators, government officials, and child advocates - which is why Pence killed the bill without public announcement.
- He has relentlessly tried to undermine and strip power from Superintendent Glenda Ritz, the only elected Democratic official at the state level. He went so far as to form a State Board of Education, with members he appointed, in order to undercut her authority - deliberately going against the will of the voters.
- He slashed funding to Planned Parenthood when he took office in 2013, closing several clinics around the state.
- He used campaign funds to pay his mortgage
- He has repeatedly ignored scientific evidence in favor of ideological nonsense: writing in an op-ed that ‘smoking doesn’t kill’, refusing to fund a state needle exchange program that could’ve prevented a catastrophic HIV outbreak, and insisting that climate change is not real.
- He pushed for brand new $873,000 state house doors (like a true fiscal conservative)
- He oversaw a $71 million dollar asphalt debacle that cause Indiana’s roads and bridges to crumble much sooner than intended
Trump’s selection of Pence perfectly demonstrates the kind of careless thinking, poor decision making, and support for extreme ideology that we must keep out of the White House. Maybe it was because he endorsed Ted Cruz, or maybe it was because he caught a small glimpse of what Hoosiers have seen during Pence’s time in office, but even Trump himself reportedly tried to reverse course and ditch Pence at the last minute - typifying poor leadership.
We cannot let these candidates use racism, sexism, homophobia, and xenophobia to galvanize the far right. If you are a college student reading this right now, please click on the "get involved" tab at the top of the page. The stakes in this election are too high to sit on the sidelines. We need your help to elect progressive candidates who will focus on solving the problems facing everyday Americans instead of espousing extreme, reckless, and divisive policies that will only move our country backwards.