Vice President Mike Pence is an evil man. He hates gay people. Pence cannot fathom that two consenting adults who love each other should be left alone. He wants to force conversion therapy upon innocent gay children. Just when you thought he couldn’t get any worse, we examine Mike Pence’s opinions towards women. He clearly hates them too. He sees A Handmaid’s Tell as the gold standard, not a dystopia. He won’t even be alone with women who aren’t his wife! This is obviously a man who hates gays, women, and probably minorities. After all, he likes President Trump.
This is the usual opinion held concerning Mike Pence of those who consider themselves Democrats. We are seeing Mayor Pete Buttigieg claim that, because he is gay, Mike Pence hates him and wants to take his rights away.
The Defamation of Mike Pence
All of this is ridiculous. The Vice President doesn’t hate gay people. He doesn’t hate women. He never actually supported conversion therapy. He never tried to push any legislation which would remove the rights of women, minorities, or the LGBTQ community despite the fact his party controlled both chambers of Congress for two years. In fact, I am unable to find any examples of him even suggesting such action would be a good idea.
What he has done is be a part of an administration that is working on a global effort to secure more rights for the LGBTQ community. He has tweeted that he will not eat at a restaurant that turns away a gay couple. He praised Buttigieg when Buttigieg came out of the closet, and he personally called Buttigieg to thank him when Buttigieg was called on from the reserves to go fight in Afghanistan. Pence has, in his own private life, held himself to standards regarding his wife and other women, which is quite normal in the religious community, and has in no way attempted to force others to obey it as well. (It is worth acknowledging Mike Pence has no #MeToo allegations come out about him.)
When someone has spent any amount of time looking into the record of Pence, it is clear he is not a hateful man. He is a very religious man, but he doesn’t hate those who disagree with him.
If this is so obviously true, it must be asked why is he being attacked so much?
A Campaign Technique
One possible answer is that the Democrats need someone to attack in order to win an election, as it is much easier to prove someone else wrong than it is to prove yourself right. And perhaps they think the media will play along, and they will cast Pence as a homophobic Nazis ready to take away all your rights after winning the 2020 election. But I don’t believe that is the reason. Unfortunately, I believe the problem is much deeper.
We have become increasingly less able to see those who disagree with us as good people. 42% of Americans view those on the other side of the aisle as “downright evil.” 20% of Democrats and 16% of Republicans think the country would be better if a large number of people on the other side died. These numbers are only getting higher.
With this view of the country, we cannot comprehend that someone who disagrees with us is a good person. Those who want to ban abortion hate women. Those who support abortion rights enjoy murdering children. If you support gun rights you like when kids die in school. If you don’t, you want us to live in a dictatorship. You are an evil person, you want bad things to happen. Bad things which wouldn’t happen if only you saw the light and supported my policies.
A Distorted Mindset
This is our current mindset, and it is unsustainable. If we are incapable of believing our neighbor is a good person, then we aren’t going to have a union much longer. Because if our assumptions were true, and our neighbors wanted to take our rights away and have us live in their far left communist state or their right-wing authoritarian dictatorship, then we would have a moral duty to fight them at every point.
But our mindset isn’t correct. Sure there are a few bad apples (there always will be) but a vast majority of Americans are good people. We all want the same thing. When I say I want to arm teachers, and you say you want to ban AR-15s, neither one of us is evil. We each want to protect kids, we just have different ways of doing so. I want the free market to produce more innovation for healthcare, helping everyone. You may want to enact socialized healthcare ensuring everyone has medical coverage. We both care about helping people. Neither one of us wants to leave people to die.
This doesn’t mean you can’t disagree. There is a major difference between attacking the policy and attacking the person. You can even think the policy is evil and it would lead to death and tyranny. For example, I think this about nearly every proposal that infringes upon the second amendment. But when I come across someone advocating for that, I do not think they are evil. Their intent is pure, they just want to protect innocent people, just like me. I may think their policy will result in the opposite, but that is the whole point of debating. We have the same goal, and we figure out how to get there.
If we continue down this road, it’ll become impossible to have a conversation, and therefore impossible to have a nation. We must start giving people the benefit of the doubt and assume that those who disagree with us on policy come from the same place in that they have a just intent. If we do not, it won’t be long before well above 50% of Americans are wanting those on the other side to die, and that is not a country worth living in.
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