On the possibility of a President Pence

Update, January 18, 2018: There is, at this point, little reason to doubt that Donald Trump acts under some form of psychological impairment. But I added a footnote pointing to articles where this is discussed, including one published in the Times (of London) today.

Apparently, a certain Lee Camp shared this on Facebook about four years ago:

This is, of course, a parody on social and traditionalist conservative opposition to sexuality education and contraception. Which is a timely thing to remember about as Donald Trump stumbles and stumbles and stumbles and because I think the Republicans will find a way to push Trump out by August for fear not so much of a Democratic wave in this year’s midterm elections but rather something more like a Democratic tsunami.[1]

Because if Mike Pence, now the vice president, ascends to the presidency, we might be in for a heavier dose of these attitudes than we’ve seen for awhile. I say that because I’ve tentatively and, it has to be said, more from a gut feeling than an actual compilation of evidence, associated Pence as traditionalist conservative. Traditionalists tend not to be prominent in politics, so this would be unusual, but they punch far above their weight in influence on conservative thought.[2] And of course they oppose abortion and sexuality education. They also oppose contraception and divorce. If Pence is indeed traditionalist, I would expect him to deploy the full power of the presidency toward a patriarchal (in even the minimum sense of that word), sexually-repressive, and misogynist agenda.

Would he be worse than Trump? I would prefer to say, pick your poison: I hardly need to describe Trump at this point beyond speculation that he might be removed by either impeachment or a 25th amendment process.

Pence, on the other hand, seemingly knows how to behave (as long as he isn’t alone with a woman who isn’t his wife), can (I’m being charitable here) be shamed. The shit-show of the Trump presidency would be at an immediate end. We might worry less that a raging delusional narcissist[3] has the nuclear command codes. But in some other ways, it will be an even scarier time to be alive, for down this path lies Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale.[4]

  1. [1]Michael Scherer, Josh Dawsey, and Sean Sullivan, “New alarm among Republicans that Democrats could win big this year,” Washington Post, January 14, 2018, https://www.washingtonpost.com/powerpost/new-alarm-among-republicans-that-democrats-could-win-big-this-year/2018/01/13/9be31acc-f8a8-11e7-beb6-c8d48830c54d_story.html
  2. [2]I would suggest citation searches for each of two names: Richard Weaver and Russell Kirk. There are others, of course, but these two alone will begin to offer a sense of the scope of traditionalist conservative influence.
  3. [3]Update, January 18, 2018: George Simon does not name Trump but describes him in an explanation of “grandiose narcissism” in George Simon, “Understanding and Dealing with Narcissistic Rage,” Counseling Resource, July 24, 2017, http://counsellingresource.com/features/2017/07/24/understanding-narcissistic-rage/ while John Gartner labels Trump’s condition as “malignant narcissism” which apparently (a paraphrase) “combines a narcissistic personality disorder, paranoia, antisocial personality disorder and sadism” in Rhys Blakely, “Are Donald Trump’s test results fake news?” Times, January 18, 2018, https://www.thetimes.co.uk/edition/times2/are-donald-trumps-test-results-fake-news-xxzgm6zxf See also Henry Alford, “Is Donald Trump Actually a Narcissist? Therapists Weigh In!” Vanity Fair, November 11, 2015, http://www.vanityfair.com/news/2015/11/donald-trump-narcissism-therapists; Aaron Blake, “The American Psychiatric Association issues a warning: No psychoanalyzing Donald Trump,” Washington Post, August 7, 2016, https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-fix/wp/2016/08/07/the-american-psychiatric-association-reminds-its-doctors-no-psychoanalyzing-donald-trump/; Matthew Goldenberg, “A professional opinion: You don’t need a psychiatrist to know there’s something wrong with Donald Trump,” Los Angeles Times, August 23, 2016, http://www.latimes.com/opinion/op-ed/la-oe-goldenberg-trump-mental-health-20160823-snap-story.html; Dan Hannan, “The real reason Donald Trump is unfit to be president,” Washington Examiner, May 16, 2016, http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/the-real-reason-donald-trump-is-unfit-to-be-president/article/2591147; Bandy Lee, ed., The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump: 27 Psychiatrists and Mental Health Experts Assess a President (New York: St. Martin’s, 2017); James Mann, “Damage Bigly,” New York Review of Books, December 21, 2017, http://www.nybooks.com/articles/2018/01/18/donald-trump-damage-bigly/; John Noonan, “I was a Minuteman III nuclear launch officer. Take it from me: We can’t let Trump become president,” Los Angeles Times, August 9, 2016, http://www.latimes.com/opinion/op-ed/la-oe-noonan-trump-nuclear-20160809-snap-story.html; Will Pavia, “The psychiatrists’ verdict: Donald Trump is a man incapable of guilt, with inner rage,” Times, May 20, 2017, https://www.thetimes.co.uk/edition/world/psychiatrists-verdict-on-trump-a-man-incapable-of-guilt-with-inner-rage-zsrlt707b; James Poniewozik, “A National Descent Into Trump’s Pants,” New York Times, March 4, 2016, http://www.nytimes.com/2016/03/05/arts/television/a-national-descent-into-trumps-pants.html; David Remnick, “The Increasing Unfitness of Donald Trump,” New Yorker, January 15, 2018, https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2018/01/15/the-increasing-unfitness-of-donald-trump; Brian Resnick, “Psychiatry’s “Goldwater Rule” has never met a test like Donald Trump,” Vox, May 25, 2017, https://www.vox.com/science-and-health/2017/5/25/15680354/psychiatry-goldwater-rule-trump; Jennifer Rubin, “The ‘stable genius’ isn’t even functioning as president,” Washington Post, January 6, 2018, https://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/right-turn/wp/2018/01/06/the-stable-genius-isnt-even-functioning-as-president/; Gail Sheehy, “At Yale, Psychiatrists Cite Their ‘Duty to Warn’ About an Unfit President,” New York, April 23, 2017, http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2016/04/yale-psychiatrists-cite-duty-to-warn-about-unfit-president.html
  4. [4]Margaret Atwood, The Handmaid’s Tale (New York: Anchor, 1998).

Author: benfell

David Benfell holds a Ph.D. in Human Science from Saybrook University. He earned a M.A. in Speech Communication from CSU East Bay in 2009 and has studied at California Institute of Integral Studies. He is an anarchist, a vegetarian ecofeminist, a naturist, and a Taoist.

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