Colson: The GOP ticket — a Troll doll and a religious zealot |

Colson: The GOP ticket — a Troll doll and a religious zealot

John Colson
Hit & Run

OK, so now we have the Republican presidential ticket out in the open — Donald Trump, a man who looks and acts like a cross between a carnival huckster and one of those strange little Troll dolls, and his running mate, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, who resembles Russian President Vladimir Putin (if Putin had a little more hair and a fleshier face).

After a bit of a stumble during which Trump was said to be not so sure he wanted Pence on the ticket, Pence was publicly tapped for the veep job July 16.

Interestingly, Pence, an evangelical Christian, virulent anti-abortionist and all-around, far-right-wing zealot, had to withdraw his name from the upcoming Indiana gubernatorial race no later than July 15, which he reportedly managed to do, even though at the time the public perception was that his place on the presidential bus was hardly assured.

What that means, fortunately for Indiana, is that Pence almost certainly will not be in the governor’s mansion in Indianapolis next year even if he and Trump lose the presidential bid (an outcome I fervently expect and hope for).

Plus, it’s possible that an Indiana Democrat, John Gregg, a former speaker of that state’s House of Representatives, could waltz into said governor’s mansion in Pence’s stead. This undoubtedly would piss Pence off tremendously, as he narrowly beat Gregg in the most recent gubernatorial contest there.

So, all in all, I’d say Trump’s selection of Pence as his running mate is a good thing, both for Indiana and for the nation as a whole.

Largely, that’s because I can’t see the U.S. electorate putting Pence one step away from becoming the most powerful elected official in the world (at least that’s what we Americans think our president is), any more than they will elect Trump.

But it’s also because, as often happens in politics, when one domino falls away, others often follow in the most peculiar ways.

For instance, in the case of Indiana, where state law forbids a candidate to appear in two races on the same ballot, a couple of Republican congressional representatives also had to make up their minds quickly about whether to keep running for re-election to the U.S. House of Representatives or throw their hats into the state gubernatorial ring. They chose to try for the governor’s job, and thus may find themselves without any kind of job come next January, if progressive-minded activists and political types have anything to say about it.

The final tally after Nov. 8, then, could and should be two Democrats keeping the White House out of the hands of tea-baggers, lying billionaires and the like; a Democrat in the governor’s chair in Indianapolis; and two new Indiana Democrats taking up seats in the U.S. House.

Of course, all this is wishful thinking on my part at this point. But hey, if you can’t dream, what good is life?

I should point out here that I’ve got Hoosier blood in my veins from my father’s side of the family and have been treated to a veritable landslide of outraged emails from my cousin, Kathy, ever since word got out about Pence’s selection.

First on her list was a topic that has been heating her up for months — what some have called Pence’s “brutal mishandling” of a measure known as the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which Pence signed into law in 2015.

The act would permit businesses to discriminate against LGBT folk with impunity, at least as far as sanctions by the state are concerned, although they still might be prosecuted under federal law.

Passage of the act ignited a storm of protests from corporations, convention managers and other entities that were appalled by the overt intolerance of the act, and that storm forced the state to back off from its fervid anti-gay positions and amend the act to protect LGBT residents from its pernicious effects.

My cousin also noted that Pence “has done so much harm” to public education in Indiana that she found it difficult to write coherently. I could just picture her fingers flying over her laptop’s keyboard in disgusted abandon, not taking time to correct typos but imbuing her messages with a sense of rage so palpable I could feel it hitting my eyes as I read the emails.

In another affront to Indiana Democrats, Pence initially refused to enroll the state in the Affordable Care Act, thereby depriving health care coverage to low-income families and others who were either uninsured or underinsured by the private sector. Kathy wrote that Pence recently had to give in, and the Affordable Care Act is now active in Indiana.

And then there is his anti-abortion stance, which has been a lifelong passion for the man, reinforcing my mystification about why men are the ones leading the battle to deny women the right to govern their own reproductive health.

Oh, wait, Kathy also said he is a consummate political opportunist, one who undoubtedly sees political points to be gained by restricting a woman’s right to choose.

Anyway, Indiana and the country could benefit by Pence’s new political “opportunity,” in ways I’m hoping Pence himself would not like.

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