Mike Pence Deserves Our Gratitude


The events of 6 January 2021 will be impossible for Americans to forget, and when they remember that day, I don't believe the emotions will be pleasant. But I think all of us, no matter our political leanings, should say a prayer of thanks for Vice President Mike Pence. He was the right man at the right time to do the right thing.

I hope that one day Mike Pence write his memoirs about his time in the vice presidency. I can only imagine what an unsatisfying time in his life it must have been. He and his wife were alternately pilloried or ignored by the media, and I can only imagine that he was not part of the inner circle who had the ear of the president. Many tarred him for even agreeing to be vice president, yet we should all be very grateful that he did so. For Mike Pence is, to my mind, the man of the hour.

When President Trump's lawsuits concerning what he perceived to be election fraud were not taken up by the courts, he decided that Mike Pence as president of the Senate could refuse electors from the states where fraud was claimed, refuse to certify the election of Joe Biden, and that somehow Trump would emerge with a second term in office. Even before January 6th, the date of certification, the threats to Pence if he did not cooperate with this scheme began. One pro-Trump attorney tweeted that if Pence refused, "he will face execution by firing squad." Trump heavily pressured Pence, both in public and in private; as he addressed the crowd assembled for the certification, Trump said, "Mike Pence is going to have to come through for us, and if he doesn't that will be a sad day for our country because you're sworn to uphold our Constitution." A gallows with a noose was set up specifically to intimidate Mike Pence should he fail to follow Trump's plan. In private, Trump railed at Pence, "You can either go down in history as a patriot, or you can go down in history as a p***y."

The morning of January 6th, after consulting with former judge J. Michael Luttig, Pence sent a letter to the entire Congress, stating that he did not have the legal right to tamper with the electors' votes. The closing paragraph of that letter is well worth memorializing:

"Four years ago, surrounded by my family, I took an oath to support and defend the Constitution, which ended with the words, 'So help me God.' Today I want to assure the American people that I will keep the oath I made to them and I will keep the oath I made to Almighty God. When the Joint Session of Congress convenes today, I will do my duty to see to it that we open the certificates of the Eletors of the several states, we hear objections raised by Senators and Representatives, and we count the votes of the Electoral College for President and Vice President in a manner consistent with our Constitution, laws, and history. So Help Me God."

Around 2:30 pm, the certification process was interrupted by the mob, and Pence and other lawmakers were hustled out to safe places; Pence never left the building, even though he and his family could hear the mob shouting, "Where's Mike Pence?" It was Pence, and not Trump, whom the military contacted about mobilizing the DC National Guard. From his secure location in the Capitol, Pence tweeted for the mob to obey law enforcement and leave the building, saying, "The violence and destruction taking place at the US Capitol Must Stop and it Must Stop Now. Anyone involved must respect Law Enforcement officers and immediately leave the building. Peaceful protest is the right of every American but this attack on our Capitol will not be tolerated and those involved will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law." Trump never even bothered to check in with Pence at all during this frightening time. About six hours later, lawmakers and Pence returned and finished the certification process. At the finish, Pence commented, "To those who wreaked havoc in our capitol today, you did not win. Violence never wins. Freedom wins. And this is still the people's house."

After these events, Pence was both praised and condemned for certifying the results. President Trump tweeted, "Mike Pence didn't have the courage to do what should have been done to protect our Country and our Constitution." Trump also retaliated by refusing to allow White House access for Pence's chief of staff. Twitter had to stop a "Hang Mike Pence" trend on its service, which trend had picked up steam in the days after 1/6. In contrast, Robert O'Brien, the President's National Security Advisor (and a member of the Church), praised Pence, saying, "I just spoke with Vice President Pence. He is a genuinely fine and decent man. He exhibited courage today as he did at the Capitol on 9/11 as a Congressman. I am proud to serve with him."

In addition to certifying results and working to get the National Guard on the scene, Pence also refused to invoke the 25th Amendment at the behest of Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer, saying in a letter to Pelosi on 12 January, "I do not believe that such a course of action is in the best interest of our Nation or consistent with the Constitution. Last week, I did not yield to pressure to exert beyond my constitutional authority to determine the outcome of the election, and I will not now yield to efforts in the House of Representatives to play political games at a time so serious in the life of our Nation." I believe he made the right decision there, too, avoiding the creation of an exceedingly dangerous precedent.

What extraordinary courage Mike Pence showed! Seriously, all Americans, no matter whom they voted for, owe him a serious debt of gratitude. Joe Grogan, fomer head of the Domestic Policy Council under Trump, probably said it best: "We're very lucky that Mike Pence is a decent guy and rational and levelheaded. If he had been replaced by someone as nuts as the people who have been surrounding the president as the primary advice givers for the last few months, we could have had even more of a bloodbath. Imagine what would have happened if Pence was devious and vile and didn't stand up for the Constitution." Thank goodness there was a good man at the right moment in the right position to avert an even greater catastrophe for our nation!