It is being reported that Donald Trump has chosen Mike Pence to be his running mate on the Republican ticket. This is just a short perspective on Mike Pence from a libertarian viewpoint and the possible ramifications. If the reports are completely wrong and he announces a different pick for vice president, then I will just have to do another analysis.
Mike Pence is the current governor of Indiana. He is up for re-election this year, but this latest announcement will likely end that run. Pence was previously in the House of Representatives from January 2003 to January 2013.
He is considered to be a conservative Republican, both fiscally and socially. He is considered to be an original Tea Party guy.
As governor, he signed what was known as a religious freedom bill in 2015, which was highly controversial. Despite the fact that Libertarian Party presidential nominee Gary Johnson thinks that bakers should be forced to bake cakes for gay couple weddings, that is not the libertarian position. The libertarian philosophy is one of voluntarism and freedom of association, even if it may not be tasteful.
In this sense, Pence’s signing of the bill was mostly correct from a libertarian perspective. But like many things in politics, he probably did it for the wrong reasons. This isn’t even really a religious issue so much as it is a property rights issue. Also, after all of the pressure from the establishment media and the rest of the left, Pence signed an amendment that essentially said it is not acceptable to discriminate.
In terms of economics, libertarians will obviously find more in common with Mike Pence than they will with Hillary Clinton or whoever her running mate is. Still, we know how things go in Washington DC. Talk is cheap. George W. Bush also campaigned as a fiscal conservative. Talk is mostly meaningless unless the person is offering highly specific cuts to government programs and agencies that are significant.
There are other red flags for libertarians. Paul Ryan and Lindsey Graham both like Pence. That is a major problem because they are so awful. Graham is especially problematic, since he is always anxious to start another war somewhere.
And that brings us to the biggest issue, which is foreign policy. Pence was a supporter of the Iraq War. I am not sure how this reconciles with Trump’s opposition to the war. Pence is a typical establishment Republican when it comes to foreign policy. That is why he can hang around the likes of John McCain and Lindsey Graham.
Pence pays homage to Israel and everything the government does there, as any good Republican is required to do. He has also opposed the closing of the Guantanamo Bay detention centers.
In other words, Pence is mostly a disaster on foreign policy. This is rather disappointing because that is the biggest issue for the presidency. It is also an issue where libertarians hold out for some hope of actual change if Trump gets elected.
The fear is that Trump will end up doing what Reagan did. Reagan picked Bush as his running mate and then ended up with many of Bush’s closest buddies as his advisors and cabinet.
Even if Trump holds firm on his less belligerent foreign policy stance, it will be hard to maintain it if he has a bunch of people around him who are committed to the status quo of interventionism.
And by the way, Pence was very recently a supporter of Ted Cruz, saying he would vote for Cruz in the Indiana primary. We have to wonder why Trump would even consider someone who supported “Lyin’ Ted”.
It is too bad that this is Trump’s likely pick. He could have done so much better. Obviously someone with a libertarian streak would have been nice. Realistically, Trump could have picked Pat Buchanan, whom he is very similar on the issues. Buchanan and Trump are both terrible on trade, but they are pretty good on foreign policy. Someone like Buchanan also would have been a better life insurance policy for Trump, as the establishment would like Buchanan even less than Trump.
Politically speaking, this probably isn’t a huge deal for Trump either way. The election is going to mostly hinge on the economy for the next 4 months and the debates. We already know that most of the media will continue to go after Trump.
In conclusion, Pence is not the worst pick in the world, as there are almost always people who could be worse. But it could have been a lot better too. It is worrisome for libertarians that this means Trump will compromise on his foreign policy views.
Presidential elections and politics in general are overrated. But if there is one area where a president could possibly have some impact, it is foreign policy. It would be nice to see less interventionism, but I fear this won’t be the case if Trump is surrounding himself by people like Mike Pence.