Friday, January 27, 2017

No, Pence Would Not Be Worse Than Trump

No, Mike Pence would not be worse than Donald Trump. 

The conversation always goes like this: "something something Trump should be impeached" "BUT IF WE IMPEACHED HIM THEN WE'LL GET PENCE AND HE'D BE SO MUCH WORSE"

No. No, no, no, no, no. Stop it. I need you to stop saying that. 

Here's why:

It's an abuse tactic

This is the same logic abusers employ to keep people from leaving them, reporting them, or taking any action. "But I never hit you." "Sure, baby, I hit you, but only a couple of times. I could have put you in the hospital." "Well, at least she's never raped me, not like such-and-so's wife." "I spent twenty years being psychologically abused and manipulated by my parents, but Joe's parents actually beat him." "I'd like to leave, but I'm afraid that living on my own will be worse."

Over time, this creates a twisted gratitude for the abuser -- instead of outrage over the things they have done, you feel gratitude for what they haven't done. When you say, "Pence would be worse than Trump," you are saying, "Be grateful to your abuser, because it could be worse."

Believe me: Trump WANTS you to think Pence would be worse. Why? Because it keeps you from holding Trump accountable. Because focusing on how bad Pence might be deflects from how bad Trump is. 

It is a classic abuse tactic, and I need you to stop it.

It's gaslighting

Saying that you shouldn't try to change your situation because the alternative is worse is a gaslighting tactic. It's also a logic used by abused people use to assure themselves that what's happening isn't all that bad. It de-legitimizes the suffering that's already going on, and minimizes the abusive behavior.

When you say, "Pence would be worse than Trump," what you're really saying is, "Trump isn't all that bad." Yes he is. 

In short, you're trying to gaslight me. Fucking stop it. 

It's normalizing Trump

Similarly, you're implying that we have to accept Trump as our new normal. He is not, in fact, normal. This is not normal behavior for a politician in America. 

If anything, Pence -- despite his many terrible qualities -- is more of a "normal" politician. During his debate with Tim Kaine, he didn't spend his time defending Trump's policies. He spent the whole debate denying them, shaking his head and running interference for his boss. Because hknew how indefensible and extreme those policies are. Pence knows how far beyond normal Trump is.  

Trump is not normal. Pence gets that. Why don't you? Stop trying to tell me these two mofos are interchangeable. They are not. You are normalizing Trump, and I need you to stop that.

The conversion therapy thing

Pence supported conversion therapy for LGBTQ+ people. This surely makes him worse than Trump, right? 

Not necessarily. 

First of all, you've probably seen this image going around:

Image result for mike pence conversion therapy meme
[Image description: Mike Pence smiles; text says, "Reminder:
Mike Pence is a proponent of gay conversion therapy, which uses
taxpayer money to literally electrocute the gay out of teenagers."]

Conversion therapy in any form is horrifying. But this image is misleading. I'll let Snopes explain. 

Essentially: no, Mike Pence did not support shocking the gay out of teenagers. In 2000, he blamed gay people for the spread of AIDS and wanted to fund conversion therapy for willing adults. He is awful. But claims about his hankering for shocking gay teens are exaggerated. 

I'm going to correct Snopes on one thing, though: conversion therapy is ANY therapy which seeks to change a person's sexual orientation. I have personally been targeted for conversion therapy. Believe me, I understand how big and scary a problem this is, and why this makes people claim that "Pence would be worse than Trump."

Here's my problem with that: you want to talk about conversion therapy? OK, fine. Let's fucking talk about conversion therapy. 

Let's talk about how conversion therapy was created as, and STILL IS, a mainstream medical practice for dealing with queer people. 

Let's talk about how transgender people are still classified as having a mental illness which must be "cured" -- and that this "therapy" first seeks to "convert" them from their gender to the one society says they ought to be. Only when they have attempted to "convert" themselves to their assigned gender and try living as something they aren't, only when they have had to prove to medical professionals that they really are trans and really do have a "mental illness," and usually only after they have lived a set amount of time as their true gender and proved to doctors that they really are sincere about being that gender, are they allowed to begin a medical transition. (Here meaning being prescribed hormones, and/or having any surgical alterations, and/or getting insurance for those things.) 

Let's talk about how asexuality was still classified as a mental illness until 2013. Let's talk about how the default response of medical professionals to asexuality is to ask, "Have you had your hormones checked?" or, "Could it be an effect of one of your medications?" If they aren't unhappy, why would they want their hormones checked? Why is brokenness and illness the automatic assumption?

Let's talk about why our knee-jerk reaction is to try to "fix" queer people. Let's talk about why we're so fascinated by what "causes" queerness. Let's talk about how people assume childhood trauma causes LGBTQ+ identities. About how so many doctors, therapists, and other medical professionals deal with mental illness in LGBTQ+ patients by pushing "recovering your natural sexuality" as part of their treatment. 

Let's talk about how hard it is to find an LGBTQ+ positive doctor, therapist, or gynecologist.

Let's talk about how even some doctors who accept homosexuality still try to "convert" everyone after the LG of LGBTQIA+

Let's talk about how intersex infants are mutilated at birth for aesthetic purposes on the advice of doctors, so that parents can raise them as single-sexed, single-gendered people. 

Let's talk about how the PERSON is always seen as the problem to be fixed, the person to be converted instead of accepted, the societal stresses of constantly being threatened or not accepted too often ignored as factors in mental illness, stress, and health problems for LGBTQ+. 

In short: Conversion therapy is not a Mike Pence problem. He did not invent it. Pence's position is the result of decades of doctors and scientists normalizing conversion therapies as an acceptable method of "treating" queerness. If anything, his stipulation that it should be used on willing people is LESS extreme than many of those who support conversion therapy -- the people who have their children shipped off to "pray away the gay" camps. The argument that Mike Pence would institute conversion therapy if he became President is weak when you realize that conversion therapy is already America's normal. 

He's not reinventing the wheel here. His 2000 proposal was just trying to make it easier for people to do what they already fucking do anyway. 

This doesn't mean you can't get upset about Pence. He's awful. He's anti-woman, anti-gay, and an all-around ass. We should be upset about Pence. 

But he's not worse than Trump. 

Oh right, RUSSIA

About that...

Trump has a myriad of conflicts of interest. He may be in debt to Russian oligarchs. He's buddy-buddy with Putin. He has already enacted executive orders which ban Muslims from some countries while exempting those countries in which he has business ties. He is using the presidency to enrich himself.

What's more: if he is compromised by Russia in some way, that should make us all very, very afraid. On the campaign trail, he suggested that he would not protect NATO allies. He said he dislikes the UN. He said bombing civilians, killing the civilian families of terrorists, and using nuclear weapons were all options on the table. 

In office, he is already taking steps to withdraw from the UN. Think about this for a second. All the policies Trump is talking up -- abandoning NATO allies, withdrawing from the UN, bombing in the Middle East -- benefit Russia. Russia has already stretched its muscles in the Crimea. Russia has gotten shit from the USA and the UN for bombing in Syria, including civilian targets. NATO is one of the organizations which keeps Russian expansion in check. 

If you're claiming that Pence would be worse than Trump, did you forget the Cold War? Did you forget that MAD (Mutually Assured Destruction) is more or less the only thing keeping us all from nuclear annihilation? If our President aligns the US with Russia, Russia has far less reason not to use nukes. They have less reason to fear retaliation.

Even if that doesn't happen: If America starts using nukes under Trump, other countries will see nukes as an option on the table. 

Pence is awful. But he understands the gravity of nuclear weapons. Trump does not grasp this, or he does not care. As long as it doesn't happen in America, right?

Also, nuclear fucking weapons

I understand that many people cry "Pence would be SO MUCH WORSE than Trump!" because to many Americans, nuclear destruction is an abstract concept. This is privilege. This is an American-centric way of thinking. This shows an all-too-convenient amnesia about history and America's role in it. 

It's funny (not funny) how many Americans quickly draw parallels between Trump's rise and the rise of fascism in Europe, but become conveniently forgetful about genocide, oppression, and war crimes perpetrated by the United States. The government carried out genocidal tactics against Native Americans. The US fought the Nazis abroad but had concentration camps for Japanese-Americans at home, calling them "internment camps." 

Even liberals who get this far fall silent on or fail to make the connection with nuclear weapons. People who rant about Nazis and mass genocide ignore the fact that America carried out the worst war crime in the history of the modern world. 


Image result for hiroshima and nagasaki before and after
[Image description: aerial before and after photos showing a flattened,
obliterated landscape] (source)

Related image
[Image description: US Army photograph showing destroyed buildings
and wreckage after the bombing] source

Image result for hiroshima and nagasaki
[Image description: a gate stands alone among wreckage while
smoke rises from burning debris] source


Image result for hiroshima and nagasaki shadows
[Image description: five nuclear shadows left by the explosion, including
silhouettes of people and a bicycle] source

America invented nukes less than 100 years ago. The world has, so far, managed not to blow itself to hell. But we take that for granted. 

We forget that nukes HAVE been used. On civilian population centers. By America. 

And it can happen again. 

Conclusion

No, Mike Pence would NOT be worse than Donald Trump. Stop saying that.

6 comments:

  1. Many times Jamaicans have said beware America and other top powers blow us off the map. Too many Americans might have forgotten about these potential consequences but foreigners like myself have not. We are well aware of the many consequences an unstable or ego-centric bigot of a president with a lot of power can potentially bring. Even my dad who's one of the nicest guys in the world said this. "How can the United States after having a sane man as president elect a mad man?" That chilled me and should chill you too. Trump is way worse than Pence. Pence understands policy and consequences. Trump does not care to learn or care at all. That is dangerous in every respect and now he's president of the United States. God help you all and the rest of us.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Amen.

      I don't think most Americans have a terribly accurate view of how the rest of the world views us, because America is relatively isolated geographically. We're like...a third of a continent. Each state is like a mini-country with its own sub-culture and you often have to drive for hours just to get to another state. But yeah, you're right that while Pence might be awful, he is not awful on the same level Trump is. One of our lawmakers just introduced a bill to restrict the President from ordering a first-strike nuclear attack. That's how worried we all are right now.

      Delete
  2. Interesting post, and a worthwhile analysis of the relative merits (or utter lack thereof) between the two people.

    However, without wanting to comment on which of the two is worse (Trump, obviously), I do disagree with the domestic violence analogy. Yes, in the case of an abusive relationship, discussing a theoretical worse case alternative is unhelpful, and is a common abuse tactic. The difference here is that there really is only one other alternative. Remove Trump and you *will* have Pence. In the case of a domestic violence victim, a worse abuser is not only one amongst many possibilities, it is not even the most likely.

    So when somebody says that, if you remove Trump you'll get Pence, I think that's a valid point, and should lead to exactly the kind of discussion you've had above.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The thing with abusive relationships or situations is that even though they might not stumble upon a worse abuser, the situation *without* an abuser is held up to be just as bad or even worse. The abuser is the known evil; life without the abuser is an unknown and is often used to scare people into staying. Abusers will do this, but people in abusive situations will also use this logic. It's the logic of, "I provide you security, what would you do without me?" or "If I leave, then I'll be homeless," or even "What if I never find another person to be with?" Trump is the known evil in this scenario, and people are inflating Pence's comparative crappiness because he's the unknown evil. Much like what happens with abusive situations: because the abuser is the familiar option, it seems like they are the preferred or safer option to an unknown quantity.

      In either case, both Trump and Pence are crapsacks. Trump is demonstrably worse. He deserves to be tossed just on principle, regardless of whether or not Pence would hypothetically be worse. It's the principle of the thing.

      Delete
  3. The Japanese internment camps never leave my mind. My grandparents were forced forced from their homes in California (though they were born there in Bakersfield). The government moved them to the camp in Poston, Arizona. What makes me sick is those people who try to justify it as being reasonable.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yikes. I can't imagine. People who try to justify treating others that way...well. It's unjustifiable. And apparently (I will have to fact-check this, but hey) it was said that the Nazis were at least partially inspired to create Jewish ghettos and concentration camps from Americans' use of reservations and forced relocation of native people. This is a thing America has an unpleasant history of doing, with more than one group.

      Delete

Comments make me happy, so leave lots! :) I will usually reply to each one, so click Notify Me to read my replies.