Mark Western: If I Were Mike Pence
This guest post was submitted by Fargo attorney Mark Western
We are at the sunset of the Trump/Pence presidential term. Barring something unforeseen, Donald Trump will remain president until noon on January 20.
Prior to getting booted from Twitter, the President made clear his intention not to attend the Inauguration ceremonies, as a final, shattered Presidential norm. It now sounds like the President will be leaving Washington for Mar A Lago several hours prior to the Inauguration. That would leave Vice President Pence minding the store, so to speak. He will have one morning to do as he pleases, without any fear of retribution by tweet, or any other means.
If I were Vice President Pence, I would use the morning to further set myself apart from the President and his untoward behavior since election day. I would invite President-elect Biden and Vice President-elect Harris to the Vice-President’s residence for coffee and do all of the ceremonial things that are associated with the morning of a transition of power from one presidential administration to another. By treating the incoming administration with civility and respect, Vice President Pence would do his part to turn the page and to begin to put the 45th President’s antics further into our collective rear view mirror. Americans who tune into the festivities would appreciate seeing polite and expected behaviors from our national leaders far more than the sulking visage we have grown accustomed to watching.
Based on the past four plus years, I anticipate that the President will say or do something outrageous that will attempt to keep the national attention on himself on Biden’s Inauguration day. Let’s face it, even though the President has not shown himself to be adept at manning the levers of government, there can be little question he is without equals in sucking up all the media oxygen on a given news cycle. The media must ignore Donald Trump, at least for a day, and give the incoming President some goodwill.
There is no amount of goodwill, either from the media or Vice President Pence, that will undo the damage that the last ten weeks wreaked upon our country, but Vice President Pence is in a prime position to help do exactly what his campaign sought, to make America great again.
There will be more than enough time to argue about the Biden/Harris policy proposals. There will, and ought to be great debates about the size of our government and the amount it ought to regulate its citizens. There will be robust debates about taxing and spending and the environment. That is the business of government; but January 20 is different; it should be a day of national renewal and a reminder that we are bigger than and better than the spiteful dialogue that has passed for debate the last many years.
So pass the coffee and cookies, Mr. Vice President. Shake hands, smile, and congratulate the winners. You know, for winning, and stuff. Find something trivial to talk about and let your symbolic actions speak louder than mere words. Make waves by doing the normal and “boring” thing.
Some say that history doesn’t judge by the best thing a person has done, it only judges by the last thing a person has done. For Mike Pence, it could be both at the same time.