This election cycle, a huge percentage of voters are voting against who they hate/distrust the most. People dislike Hillary Clinton and think she’s a criminal who is above the law and disdains average voters. People worry that Donald Trump has bad judgment and makes stupid decisions.
In an odd way, this made the Vice Presidential debate more important. Most years, you’re deciding between the two main candidates, but what if you dislike and distrust both? The deciding factor can be the Vice President.
For the fence-sitters, Mike Pence made the decision easy: Even-tempered and reasonable, factual and clear-headed, informed and sympathetic, Mike Pence sounded like he could be president. He was reassuring. Tim Kaine made Hillary’s job harder, not easier. He was rude, disrespectful, lied and was just generally a jerk. He looked juvenile and defensive.
Some talking heads are arguing that Pence’s competence outshines Donald Trump’s and reveals Trump’s weaknesses. In fact, that’s the narrative the lefty media is building right now. They can try, but that argument falls flat. Trump’s decision to hire to his weaknesses with Mike Pence shows leadership ability. It’s the first big choice a candidate makes. His decision to pick Mike Pence shows excellent judgment. If his choice of Veep indicates his decision-making as president, Trump is the good manager he claims to be.
Hillary Clinton’s decision to pick a toady like Kaine also demonstrates her judgment. He’s as likable as her–nasty, aggressive and hostile. So two unlikable Democrats. Swell.
There has been some talk that Trump isn’t so interested in policy and that his Vice President will be given power that few other Vice Presidents have ever enjoyed. If true, that also bodes well. Pence is adept policy-wise and worked for twelve years in Congress. As he reminded Tim Kaine twice, he’ll be happy to work with the opposition on the Hill.
Tonight was an obvious win for Pence but also for Trump. Trump made a good choice picking Pence. Pence illuminated the conservative values that voters hope Trump stands for but has not adequately articulated.
For jittery voters, Pence could make the difference.
Gage Skidmore: Flickr, Creative Commons