The ‘hero’ of Jan. 6 should embrace the truth
It is well-established that former Vice President Mike Pence is a devout Christian. Therefore, on the anniversary of the Jan. 6 Capitol assault, one expects that he will prayerfully reflect how his life was spared from the Trump-inspired mob who constructed a gallows on the Capitol grounds and shouted, “Hang Mike Pence.”
Among those painful reflections are several widely-reported bright spots when Pence showed courage under fire. For example, before Jan. 6, then-Vice President Pence repeatedly fought President Trump’s demands to contest Electoral College votes from states that Trump falsely claimed he won — hoping to overturn President-elect Joe Biden’s victory. Then, on Jan. 6, Pence courageously began certifying the Electoral College votes as was his constitutionally mandated duty.
Distressingly, and after our democracy was under attack, Trump perverted the word “courage” and tweeted, “Mike Pence didn’t have the courage to do what should have been done to protect our Country and our Constitution.”
Later, on Jan. 12, the New York Times reported that before Pence arrived at the Capitol on Jan. 6, Trump called one last time to apply pressure saying, “You can either go down in history as a patriot, or you can go down in history as a pu–y.”
In September, when Bob Woodward and Robert Costa’s book “Peril” was published, more of Trump’s pre-Jan. 6, insults to Pence were revealed. Reportedly, Trump called Pence demanding again that he overturn the Electoral College: “‘If you don’t do it, I picked the wrong man four years ago,’ Trump said, ‘You’re going to wimp out.’”
But “wimp out” was the polar opposite of Pence’s actions. While the Capitol was under siege, the vice president refused to leave the building, rejecting the advice of his Secret Service agents.
Once the Capitol was secured around 8 p.m., in the Senate chamber, Pence said, Let’s get back to work.” And at 3:40 a.m. on Jan. 7, he completed his ceremonial task of certifying the Electoral College votes so Biden’s Jan. 20 inauguration could proceed. Astonishingly, from that point in time, the trajectory of Pence’s political career was dramatically and permanently altered.
I recently wrote that “when the history of Jan. 6, 2021, is written decades from now, then-Vice President Mike Pence is likely to be revered as an American hero who saved our democracy” — a statement overwhelmingly rejected by Trump’s supporters.
Ironically, large swaths of Trump’s MAGA crowds are Christian conservatives — Pence’s once-loyal base who largely abandoned him after Jan. 6. Why? They believed Trump then (and now) when he attributed to Pence the power to overturn Electoral College votes not written in the Constitution — a sacred document that Vice President Pence took a solemn oath to “support and defend.”
Subsequently, in 2021 Pence did not attend or was publicly rejected at annual events where, for years, he had been warmly welcomed by adoring crowds. Most notably, last February, Pence declined an invitation to CPAC, where Trump made his first post-Jan. 6 speech. For comparison, at CPAC 2020, I witnessed Pence address a jam-packed ballroom and receive rousing standing ovations.
Sadly, in June, a fallen Pence generated negative headlines at the influential Faith & Freedom Coalition summit for Christian “values voters.” The Hill reported: “Former Vice President Mike Pence was heckled with calls of ‘traitor’ at a conservative conference Friday as he continues to draw criticism from members of the Republican base for his role in Congress’s certification of President Biden’s Electoral College victory.”
Most Republicans will remember back in 2016 when Trump tapped Pence to be his running mate — then, the largely unknown governor of Indiana. Immediately, Pence made Trump more palatable to millions of white evangelical voters. Likewise, I knew many conservative Christian Republicans who were initially uneasy with Trump’s rough and tumble persona until Pence became the comforting political and cultural reason they voted for the Trump/Pence ticket.
And now Pence is heckled as a “traitor.”
Since I believe Pence is an American hero, I was pleased to learn this week that Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.) – a member of the Jan. 6 House select committee – also called Pence a “hero” and “constitutional patriot” for certifying the 2020 presidential election.
Nonetheless, Pence’s Jan. 6 hero status is fading fast. Although he is a “constitutional patriot,” in 2021, Pence neglected to speak out about how Trump tried to overturn the 2020 election and imperil our democracy.
Furthermore, only when Pence reveals the complete truth about Trump’s actions to the Jan. 6 committee will he redeem himself. Similarly, referencing Pence, Committee Chairman Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) told CNN, “I would hope that he would do the right thing and come forward and voluntarily talk to the committee.”
Currently, it appears as if Pence is trying to have it both ways. He wants to regain his moral, political leader status and attend conservative GOP and Christian events without being booed. Thus, he sends emails about values and “Defending the Faith” — perhaps hoping to run for president in 2024. Yet, disgracefully, Jan. 6 is not mentioned on the website for his PAC, Advancing American Freedom. What does he fear?
Along with Trump, Pence knows the entire truth about the events leading up to Jan. 6., but Pence’s desire to regain power appears to supplant his yearning to speak the truth.
I suggest that Pence chart a new political course and base his actions on the Bible, starting when Jesus said, “Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
Christians know the truth that our democracy was founded on unalienable rights “endowed by their Creator.” But, unfortunately, MAGA Christians must be reminded that Trump has no misgivings about shredding the Constitution to keep himself in power — and will again if given a chance.
Mike Pence: Only you can convey that critical message. You can lead a new Republican Party away from Trump, guided by truth and light. Please pray about making this Jan. 6 anniversary another day of courage.
Myra Adams writes about politics and religion for numerous publications. She is a RealClearPolitics contributor and served on the creative team of two GOP presidential campaigns in 2004 and 2008. Follow her on Twitter @MyraKAdams.