Election 2020

Mike Pence Needs to Do One Thing Tonight in the Debate

AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki

The debate between Vice President Mike Pence and Senator Kamala Harris this evening is more important than the typical vice-presidential slugfest. They have occasionally yielded some memorable lines, such as Lloyd Bentsen lobbing, “Senator, you’re no Jack Kennedy” at Dan Quayle during their debate. However, the second-tier debates are not generally critical to the general election outcome.

This year is different. We have just been confronted with a president who contracted a dangerous virus. While President Trump is recovering nicely, both he and Joe Biden are in their 70s. The idea that one of these people could be leading the country was brought into stark relief when President Trump entered Walter Reed. Joe Biden’s obvious cognitive issues also make a Harris presidency a distinct possibility.

In this political landscape, Vice President Pence has one job. He must expose Harris’s radical positions and ensure America understands exactly what is at stake. To this point, neither Harris nor Biden will answer questions about their positions on several priorities other Democrats have been talking openly about. When pressed on important questions like whether they support adding justices to the Supreme Court, ending the filibuster, and adding states, Biden and Harris have both refused to state their positions.

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These items, taken together, will fundamentally change our institutions and how we are governed. There is a real threat of what is referred to as the tyranny of the majority. Without the filibuster, simple majorities in both houses of Congress would send legislation to the president to sign. If Biden added justices, the Court would be filled with left-wing ideologues that legislate from the bench. And adding the states of Puerto Rico and Washington, D.C. would put 3-4 more Democrats in the Senate and several in the House of Representatives.

Our Founders went out of their way to create a government where this would not be possible. We all know what happened when Democrats had a one-party government briefly under Barack Obama. Obamacare was rammed through at the 11th hour. Multiply this by infinity if we end up with one-party rule again, and if Democrats pack the Court.

Vice President Pence has the manner and debate chops to do one of two things. He must thoroughly discard the Biden campaign’s standard answer, which is, “People are voting right now.” The simple response is to acknowledge early voting and say those who have not yet voted deserve an answer on this policy issue. The question is about packing the Court, not whether to fill the current vacancy now or after the election. Pence needs to press for an answer.

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He cannot let the moderator, Susan Page from USA Today, change the subject as Chris Wallace did during the debate between Trump and Biden. Pence needs to press Harris on these issues, explain the implications these policies would have for our institutions, and insist Harris answer the question. Being much more measured and less confrontational than his running mate, Pence can pull this off succinctly and clearly.

If Harris refuses to answer, Pence should make an issue about it. Note that she is not willing to take a position on issues that have the potential to fundamentally change how our government functions. This is as bad as, if not worse than, her flip-flops on Medicare for All, the Green New Deal, and other radical policies. Figuring out where Kamala Harris stands on any issue is like nailing Jell-O to a wall.

Either she won’t tell voters what she intends to do, or she changes her mind based on the political winds. Perhaps this is why she dropped out before a single vote was cast in the Democrat primary. It is astounding that a woman who left the race polling at 2% is standing poised to be a heartbeat away from becoming the leader of the free world. Pence needs to help viewers draw the obvious conclusion.

Harris is incapable of leading this nation.

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