Donald Trump is likely to name Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, a former Congressman, as his running mate Friday, according to the Indianapolis Star (though Trump could still surprise us and go with Newt Gingrich or Chris Christie).
A colorless politician with executive experience, Pence may offer ballast to the Trump ticket. But he clearly does not offer balance. On many of the most important issues of our time, Pence is a hard-line right-winger.
Here’s why Mike Pence is a threat to progressives everywhere.
1. He signed one of the most restrictive abortion laws in the country.
In April, Gov. Pence signed into law a bill that forbids abortion on the basis of fetal chromosomal abnormalities, including Down syndrome, among other factors. The law further bans fetal-tissue donation — requiring any aborted or miscarried fetus to be cremated or buried. And it placed onerous restrictions on abortion providers nearly identical to those that the Supreme Court recently found unconstitutional in Texas.
2. He signed a bill that made it OK for Indiana businesses to discriminate against LGBT customers.
In 2015, Pence signed a “religious freedom” law, whose sweeping language permitted Indiana businesses to refuse to serve LGBT Americans, much like Southern businesses used to discriminate against African-Americans during the days of segregation.
Backlash against the law was swift and intense. Pence was forced to quickly sign a bill amending the legislation, which the governor claimed had been subject to “mischaracterizations.”
3. He blocked the resettlement of Syrian refugees in Indiana — and illegally tried to cut off federal aid to existing refugees.
In the wake of the massacre in Paris last fall, Pence issued an executive order to block the resettlement of Syrian war refugees in Indiana. Not content to keep new war widows and orphans out of the state, Pence upped the xenophobic ante by also trying to cut off federal aid to those already in the state. A federal judge blocked Pence’s action, writing that the governor’s order “clearly constitutes national origin discrimination” and “in no way directly, or even indirectly, promotes the safety of Indiana citizens.”
4. He’s an unreconstructed drug warrior.
At a time when lawmakers on both sides of the aisle are tackling the nation’s drug problems with less focus on incarceration, Pence signed a bill to reinstating a mandatory minimum drug sentence. Many drug users sell drugs on the side to support their addictions. Thanks to Pence, any Indiana resident convicted twice for selling meth or heroin is now sentence to a full decade in prison. Expressing his pleasure at signing a law stripping judges of discretion in drug sentencing, Pence declared, “We need to make it clear that Indiana will not tolerate the actions of criminals.”