Sixpence, None the Richer
Remember that Christian/pop group from the late 90s called “Sixpence, None the Richer?” Even if you don’t recall the band, you may be familiar with how they got their name. The name comes from C.S. Lewis’ book Mere Christianity where a father gives his son sixpence to buy a gift. When the father receives the gift, he accepts it happily, but he is struck by the fact that he is “none the richer.”
This past week, presumptive Republican Presidential nominee Donald Trump announced that his selection for Vice President would be Indiana State Governor Michael Pence. The announcement came somewhat premature due to election rules in Indiana, and has been overshadowed by tragedies in Nice, France and Baton Rouge, LA. It was dubbed by one Fox News Reporter as the “worst kept secret” of the campaign so far.
While the announcement has been lackluster at best, it has left many wondering what the selection of Michael Pence means for the Trump Campaign. Why would Trump select Michael Pence instead of the others that were reported to be on his short list of potential VP picks? As I look at Mike Pence’s history, I can come up with three likely reasons why Donald Trump chose him, and what it means going into the general elections in November.
1. Donald Trump Needs Republicans to Coalesce
The first reason I think Donald Trump chose Pence is because Trump sorely needs the Republican party to get behind him. While Trump likes to act like he can go it alone, he knows he needs the backing of the republican establishment to make any serious run at beating Hillary Clinton in the general election.
Mike Pence served as a Republican in the U.S. House of Representatives from 2001-2012, establishing his credibility within the Republican party. Pence then successfully ran for Governor of Indiana and has served as Governor since January, 2013. Pence has strong conservative views, has been a long time republican, and has a pretty good background in foreign affairs (note: Pence served on the Foreign Affairs Committee from 2007-2013). All of these items help to settle the stomach of Republicans who are extremely nervous about Trump’s Nomination.
While Trump’s announcement of Pence wasn’t flashy, it didn’t need to be to serve this purpose. In order to satiate the Republican establishment, he simply needed to select somebody they were comfortable with, and whom he could live with. Pence seems to be a perfect fit for that job.
2. Trump Needs Conservative Voters to Believe He’s Conservative.
Is Donald Trump really pro-life? Will he really select conservative judges when given the chance? Will Trump shift left for the general election? These are the kinds of questions that disenfranchised conservatives are asking, and Mike Pence might just be the guy to help get them on board the Trump bandwagon.
Take, for example, the very controversial pro-life issue. Trump has been all over the map on abortion. While he claims to be “pro-life, with exceptions,” he’s been wishy-washy on the government’s subsidy of Planned Parenthood. Mike Pence has been openly outspoken about his support for defunding Planned Parenthood as well as his over all pro-life stance. The selection of Pence allows Trump to “make good” with skeptical pro-life voters and possibly court their vote heading into the general election.
As Trump heads to the general election, he needs every conservative vote he can muster. The selection of Mike Pence appears to help him do just that.
3. Trump Needs an Advisor Who Knows the Ins and Outs of Washington Politics.
Let’s be honest; While Trump has proven to be a pretty good politician to date, he has zero experience actually running a government. Don’t misunderstand that statement. He has all the experience one could ask for in managing companies, businesses, assets, economy, etc. All that experience has its place, but what Trump lacks in political prowess, Pence seems to have in spades.
If Trump wins the election in 2016, he’ll head to the White House where he’ll no longer be dealing with businessmen who care singularly about the bottom-line. Trump, instead, will be cutting deals with politicians who have other motivations. Sure, everyone wants to make money, but politicians also want to stay in office and to do that they need to keep their constituents happy. Pence has 12 years of experience of working in the House of Representatives. He knows how the game is played and he knows the players of the game as well. Who better to have at your side?
Further, Pence not only knows Congress, but he also knows state governance. Pence understands what state governments are looking for and what they are likely to oppose. As President, Trump will need to finesse his deals with all these types of politicians. Mike Pence might just be the best guy, not only to advise Trump, but to carry Trump’s message. If you’re a governor of a state, wouldn’t it put you at ease to have a fellow governor explain things to you on your terms? If you’re a congressmen or senator, wouldn’t it be nice to hear proposals and ideas from someone who has sat in your seat? If your answer to that is “yes,” then you understand why Pence is a pretty good pick for Trump.
Lastly, and certainly not least, Pence has foreign policy experience. I can’t emphasize this enough. Trump has made a number of gaffes along the way in discussing foreign policy and most of those mistakes have been a result of a clear lack of understanding of what’s really going on overseas. Pence has six years of experience working on the Foreign Affairs Committee and that experience will certainly fill a huge intelligence gap for Donald Trump.
Conclusion: Mike Pence, None the Richer?
Trump’s selection of Mike Pence wasn’t flashy. It wasn’t braggadocious. Time will tell if it is profitable. Any one of the above three reasons could pay off for Trump in the long run. If he is able to gain the support of the Republican Party he will have bolstered his funding and his all around ability to serve as President if he wins. If Trump is able to gain the support of enough pro-lifers willing to take the leap now that Pence is a part of the package, it might be just what he needs to catapult him to victory in more socially conservative leaning states. Finally, if he is elected President, Pence may be just the advisor Trump needs to help cut deals at the state and congressional levels. He also may be the perfect guy to advise on selecting a Secretary of State, or other positions requiring foreign affairs experience.
In the end, I can’t help but notice that the selection of Mike Pence seems to be a move to appeal to a conservative electorate, and not a general electorate. It should be somewhat concerning that Trump still seems to be looking to sway conservative voters. Now, or very soon, should be the time when he is starting to court independents and democrats. By selecting Pence, Trump has lost an opportunity to appeal to a non-conservative electorate. Then again, maybe Trump is confident he can win that vote on his own.