Thomas Gallatin / February 8, 2022

Trump Was Wrong: Pence Is Courageous

The former president continues to blast Pence for doing the right thing.

Donald Trump continues to throw the most loyal member of his administration under the bus. At a recent rally, Trump yet again complained about the “stolen election” and in doing so he blasted Mike Pence over his refusal to unilaterally disqualify electors as Congress convened at the Capitol on January 6. “Unfortunately, he didn’t exercise that power,” Trump lamented. “He could have overturned the election!”

The trouble is, Trump is just flat wrong. He’s wrong on the constitutional merits, and he’s wrong on the practical logical implications of his claim. If Trump’s claims were indeed true — if the sitting vice president had unilateral authority to refuse to accept a state’s electors — then how would Trump or any member of the opposing party ever hope to get into office upon winning an election? The argument Trump is making is self-defeating at its core, and the more he claims otherwise, the clearer it becomes that he’s reasoning from a “my way or the highway” rationale, irrespective of adherence to law.

And just to be clear, even given the fact that there were many instances of voting shenanigans, and even accepting that Democrats cheated — primarily through their bulk-mail ballot fraud — the avenue for addressing and resolving such disputes must be in the courts. Trump’s team failed to move the courts, and that failure does not justify claiming the existence of a power that the vice president simply does not have. Period.

Pence has never said anything disparaging about Trump, despite the fact that Trump has disparaged him repeatedly. He responded to this latest claim and set the record straight: “I heard [last] week that President Trump said I had the right to overturn the election. President Trump is wrong. The presidency belongs to the American people, and the American people alone. And frankly, there is no idea more un-American than the notion that any one person could choose the American president.”

“Under the Constitution, I had no right to change the outcome of our election,” he further noted. “And Kamala Harris will have no right to overturn the election when we beat them in 2024. As constitutional conservatives, the American people must know that we will always keep our oath to the Constitution, even when it would be politically expedient to do otherwise; they must know, as the Bible says, that we will ‘keep our oath even when it hurts.’”

Trump was wrong on two counts. First, as noted above, about the vice president having the authority to overturn an election. But secondly, and more pointedly, Trump is wrong about Pence lacking courage. It takes courage to stand for the truth when it means having to stand against the wishes and desires of a friend, and especially when that friend is a powerful and forceful figure like Trump. It takes courage to stand on the principles delineated by the Founding Fathers in the Constitution, even when doing so means to lose. It takes courage to stand when it could spell the end of a political career.

For conservatives, it’s not and it never should be Trump that we ultimately believe in. As we have argued from day one, Trump is and remains a flawed individual. And despite those flaws — in many ways because of them — he did the nation a great service by stepping up and challenging the establishment and the corruption that has increasingly come to define Washington. But for conservatives, it has always been about preserving this great country by holding firmly to the Constitution. As Pence rightly observed, “If we lose faith in the Constitution, we won’t just lose elections, we will lose our country.” Amen.

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