Conventional wisdom said that Indiana Governor and Donald Trump running mate Mike Pence won Tuesday’s Vice-Presidential debate. Despite the fact that moderator Elaine Quijano and Hillary Clinton VP pick Sen. Tim Kaine kept hitting Pence with things that Trump’s said and he constantly denied, Pence was deemed the victor because he looked smooth as silk while refusing to acknowledge the things his Presidential candidate has been caught on the record saying. In hindsight though, it would have been nice if Quijano and Kaine had focused on Pence’s own record as a politician, because in a great many not insignificant ways, Pence is a much worse candidate than Trump.
Now the basis of this post was constructed prior to Donald Trump’s latest catastrophe, but Pence has always been the more problematic part of the ticket. Sure, Trump is misogynist, racist, self-entitled, and no where near as rich or smart as he thinks, but when it comes to how he’d govern, we have absolutely no idea what that would look like since he’s held neither an elected nor an appointed political office. But Pence has. And from all signs of his record from the last 16 years as a congressman and governor, a Pence presidency or vice-presidency would be a nonstop cavalcade of fights based on social conservative, Christian values that no one but the small sector that’s Pence’s base cares about.
So having said that, here are the questions I wish Quijano had asked at the debate.
1. You take credit for the economic and business success of your state, but wasn’t that the work and focus of your predecessor, Mitch Daniels, who shirked the usual social conservative issues you’ve pursued?
2. How do you justify pushing through harsher sentences for drug users when the Indiana Bar Association, and member’s of your own party’s national caucus are advocating for the opposite?
3. You’ve pushed for a constitutional amendment against gay marriage, tried to stop gay couples from legally adopting and signed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, how can you be on a ticket with a nominee that wants to reach out to the gay community?
4. Why do you hate gay people?
5. If you’re such a believer in small government, why did you spend taxpayer money sending your attorney general to neighbouring states to rally anti-gay marriage support?
6. If your so pro-business, why sign a law like the RFRA and continue to support it even after Angie’s List canceled a $40 million expansion in your state, resulting in a loss of 1,000 potential jobs?
7. Only 3 per cent of Planned Parenthood’s budget goes to supporting abortions, and the organization performs no abortions itself, so why defund the whole thing in Indiana?
8. Why do you hate women’s health?
9. Why pass a law making women hold funerals for miscarriage and abortions? Why purposefully make life more difficult for women as they suffer one of the most difficult times in their lives?
10. Do you think your social conservative values – defunding Planned Parenthood, closing down needle exchanges – contributed to the HIV outbreak in Indiana earlier this year? Why or why not?
11. Why were you so slow responding to a public health crisis in your state?
12. Why did it take three months to open temporary needle exchanges in response to the crisis?
13. Why not admit your mistake and reopen them permanently by restoring state funding?
14. Why leave it to the counties to cover the cost of your mistake?
15. Speaking of health issues, do you still think that there’s no connection between cigarettes and lung disease?
16. Considering that you took campaign money from cigarette companies at the time, when did your opinions stop being for sale?
17. Who’s fighting the war on coal, which side is winning, and why should the coal side win?
18. Why are you pro-aesthma?
19. If you’re for an “all of the above” energy plan, why shut down an innovative energy efficiency strategy that was getting Indiana attention as a trailblazer on the subject?
20. Why do you hate innovation?
21. You are aware that it was a Republican president that created the Environmental Protection Agency, right?
22. You’re also aware that your hero, Ronald Reagan, led the fight against ozone erosion and acid rain in the 80s, right?
23. Why do you hate Reagan’s track record on the environment?
24. Speaking of war, why did you have the NRA do concealed carry training with the Indiana National Guard? Why was a civilian organization do training for a military one?
25. Was the idea of spending taxpayer money on a government-run news source the American thing to do?
26. When you said you were going to ban Syrian refugees from coming to Indiana, did you know that you didn’t have the power to stop refugees from being resettled in Indiana?
27. Do you hate Muslims?
28. Do you hate refugees?
29. If you’re such a Christian man, and believe in the ideals and inspiration of Jesus Christ, shouldn’t you be in favour of helping those that are suffering from war, poverty and starvation? Shouldn’t you be the first to offer assistance rather than doing everything in your power, and not in your power, to stop it from happening?
30. Follow-up: Are you aware of Matthew 25:40, “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me'”? What does that make you think about?
31. Do you think Donald Trump is a Christian man?
32. How can you jib your “family values” example and policy decisions with a man that’s had three marriages, and committed multiple acts of infidelity?
33. Has anything you’ve every done as Governor been without the expressed purpose of scoring political points for your future presidential bid?
Having said all that, let’s be honest about something: Trump has repeated demonstrated that he has no interest in policy, either learning it or crafting it. There was that controversy back in July that revealed that Donald Trump Jr. tried to entice Ohio Gov. John Kasich to be Trump’s running mate by allowing him to focus on crafting domestic and foreign policy while a President Trump would focus on “making America great again!” If Trump made that deal with Pence, then that’s especially scary given his record. How is any of the issues referred to in the above list of questions meant to “make America great”? They aren’t. It’s just that Pence wants to go back in time and live in Pleasantville, which, of course, never existed. At least there’s a place called America, and while Trump supporters have an imaginary picture of what American greatness once looked like, the Trump appeal has nothing to do with the candidate’s assertion that Ward Cleaver is the only role model for life. It would have been nice if someone had asked Pence about it.