Do progressives really want a President Pence? Their immediate answer may be: “yes, impeach President Donald Trump no matter what,” but if progressives considered what was best for their agenda, they would recognize how relatively great the Trump presidency has been thus far.
Last week, special counsel Robert Mueller revealed the Department of Justice’s probe of Trump’s campaign regarding collusion with Russia would be extended to allow investigation into all of Trump’s business transactions with Russians dating as far back as 2008.
While this revelation hasn’t grabbed headlines like previous developing stories on Russian collusion, it could have serious legal implications for Trump. Doing business in Russia is not like doing business in the U.S. The Russian economy is largely controlled by the president and is run more like a mob than a legitimate economic organization. Because of this, to have favorable business deals in Russia, businessmen have to do business as Russians do. In other words, in order to have a successful business in Russia, ethical standards are abandoned to give bribes to elected officials or to pay whoever needs to be appeased. As a result, Trump, who has had several successful business ventures in Russia since 2008, should be particularly worried. It does not take much of an imagination to see Trump bribing a crony of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s to ensure the success of his Miss Universe pageant. This has potential to expose his presidency’s possible less-than-legal financial exchanges, which could evolve into grounds for impeachment and removal from office.
While this may be the result progressives have been clamoring for since his inauguration, it may not be as desirable as they imagine. If Trump is impeached and subsequently removed from office, Vice President Mike Pence would be sworn in as president. Pence, because he was not directly elected by the Americans, would obviously lack the popular legitimacy an American presidency desires. Nevertheless, for many reasons, he would be a much tougher opponent for liberals. This leads me to question why liberals would want to remove a president from office who may be the most liberal Republican president in recent history.
Trump may not seem to be a liberal on the surface: He ran as a Republican, favors increased military spending, advocates for limited government in most areas and nominated a textualist to the U.S Supreme Court. These are traditionally conservative ideological views, but does Trump himself favor these ideas? Trump has expressed protectionist trade views on the campaign trail and has even supported Democratic political candidates vocally and financially — both of which are counter to typical Republican ideals and are much more aligned with liberals than conservatives.
Pence as president would be a dream come true for establishment Republicans who have openly opposed Trump since he declared his candidacy. Establishment Republicans have ensured that no major legislation would pass for Trump to sign. Nearly everything substantial that Trump has accomplished thus far has been a result of executive orders. This would not be a problem with a President Pence. Pence has enjoyed amicable relations with Republicans during his entire career. Instead of encountering resistance among Senate and House Republicans, Pence could take advantage of a united Republican majority and pass major legislation.
Mike Pence is a rock-ribbed conservative. He does not support LGBTQ+ rights, is anti-abortion and generally holds views counter to those held by progressives on the issues they hold most dear. And because Pence has such good relations with his fellow Republicans, he would likely be able to make progress in achieving his desired goals. A President Pence could push Democrats to tone down their hysteria, considering Pence is a more traditional politician that is nowhere near as controversial as Trump and doesn’t tweet everything that comes to mind.
So, how would a Trump impeachment help advance the progressive agenda?
Jack Story is a UF graduate. His column appears on Tuesdays.