He Was Coming For You, Mike Pence

As we learned in vivid and shocking detail last week, Mike, your ex-boss took the concept of ‘thrown under the bus’ to new, horrible, diabolical extremes. He incited a mob — one that he had spent millions of dollars inviting to Washington, D.C. for a ‘Stop the Steal’ rally on January 6, including $3.5 million he paid to the rally’s organizers¹ — to take the Capitol, find you and do you physical harm.² All because you had the audacity to choose to honor your oath to the Constitution and support the outcome of the presidential election, spurning your ex-boss in the process.

Bad move, Mike. Because as we all know, one sign of disloyalty, one hint of disagreement, one odd sideways glance is all it takes to go from valued sidekick to reviled enemy. For four years you did a marvelous job of supporting him. You stood behind him, stoically, as he ranted, raged and disparaged. Yet, despite your years of unquestioning, committed servitude, all it took was one misstep near the end. Just one. And in a blink of an eye, you were toast. Worse. You were worthy of sacrifice, in a Biblical sense.

And make no mistake. He knew you were in danger during the insurrection. He watches television. He had real-time information about the attack on the Capitol and everyone inside. He was even begged by Kevin McCarthy, a fellow Republican and staunch supporter, to call off the mob. He chose not to.³ Not only that, just moments after you were removed from the Senate chamber due to the imminent and serious threat to your safety, your ex-boss tweeted that you lacked ‘courage’ to overturn the results of the election, further enraging the insurrectionists.⁴ He hung you out to dry, Mike, and then some. You and every Republican in Congress. Such is his compassion for and loyalty to you and to them.

Had the rioters captured you, which was their intent, do you think they might have used the gallows they had constructed on the Capitol grounds? They were, after all, chanting “Hang Mike Pence!” as they roamed the halls of the Capitol, coming within 60 feet of you.⁵ You, the vice president. Being hunted by your then-boss’s thugs. Insurgents wearing Trump garb, carrying Trump flags, using the poles of American flags to bludgeon Capitol police. Coming for you. Might they have harmed your family, too, or, at minimum, allowed them to watch?

This, of course, followed the then-president energizing a crowd by telling them repeatedly that you were the only thing between him remaining president for another term and the “most corrupt election in the history of the country,” a “landslide victory” that was “rigged” and was being “stolen” from him and them. It was up to you and you alone.⁶ And you failed him while upholding your sworn duty to protect the Constitution. How rash of you, Mike.

You are, undoubtedly, aware of all of this. Yet, you remain silent. Why might that be? Afraid to confront your ex-boss, even from afar? Reluctant to show any indignation, any anger about having your life purposefully put at risk? Or, possibly, is your silence indicative of your compliance or even support? Maybe you think it right to incite a mob to invade the Capitol and pursue you and members of Congress with violent intentions. Maybe you are willing to accept the deaths and injuries, largely to law enforcement, that occurred that day. Maybe you think the then-president was correct to attempt, at any cost, to overturn the election results. Even if you were harmed or killed in the process. Maybe, for you, preserving the image of the then-president is more important than maintaining law and order and overlooking a planned insurrection and attempted coup d’état. Or maybe you do not believe he had anything to do with it, that the mob just showed up that day, on the very day the election results were to be confirmed, and just happened to walk up to the Capitol and ransack it with you and every member of Congress inside. With you being the guy the murderous mob wanted most. Even more than Nancy Pelosi.

Because you have said nothing, we do not know.

Mike, if it is not already clear to you, it is clear to us. He does not care about you. He does not care about your safety. He does not care about your family’s safety. He cares only about himself. Make no mistake: had you been captured that day, had you been led to the gallows, had you been hung, the gain would have been his. He might have invoked martial law and continued his reign. Heinous as your death on the grounds of the Capitol would have been, it was one way for you to have overturned the election results, if temporarily. And, of course, to have remained loyal to your ex-boss to the bitter end. Were you tempted to make the ultimate sacrifice to remain in his good graces?

What is also abundantly clear is that 43 Senate Republicans do not care about you, their fellow members of Congress, the Capitol or the country. They voted last Saturday to acquit the ex-president. Despite overwhelming evidence of guilt of two impeachable offenses: inciting violent insurgence against the United States and failing to attempt to quell the ensuing riot. Despite the seven deaths and dozens of injuries. Despite many insurrectionists claiming that they were following the instructions of their president. Despite the unparalleled ignominy of the day.

And regardless of Mitch McConnell’s statements following the acquittal, the president has gotten away with everything.⁷ Despite being impeached twice — a yoke of unparalleled disgrace for anyone with a sense of shame (which eliminates the ex-president) — most recently promoting a baseless, vicious, incendiary lie about a “stolen” election, blaming everyone but himself for the outcome, an outcome he has yet to accept. A lie that has led to seven deaths. And his punishment? None, thanks to the 43 spineless, look-the-other-way, self-serving, hypocritical Republican senators who voted for acquittal. That they, too, were hunted that fateful day must not matter to them. That the then-president could care less about their health and safety appears immaterial. Never have we witnessed an event of more shocking servitude. For 43 Republican senators, they, themselves hunted by an angry, bloodthirsty mob, voted to give the undeniable leader of that mob a free pass. What’s next for these ineffectual, cowardly, effete, impotent sources of immense embarrassment? Volunteering to be shot by the ex-president on New York City’s 5th Avenue? Probably easier than voting against him, they must think, no matter his overwhelming guilt, his amorality, his evil.

Now is a good time to speak up, Mike. Republicans will listen to you, as will many supporters of the ex-president, even as many flee the Republican party. Justice needs to be done. You are one of the few Republicans who can stand up for the Constitution, for the country. You did it once. You can do it again. Only our democracy is at stake. The majority of Republicans in Congress who voted to acquit — who will forever be branded ‘Seditionist’ — simply do not have the courage, fortitude and honor to uphold their oaths of office. We hope against hope that you do. It is your time at last, Mike. Be a hero.

¹ https://www.forbes.com/sites/sarahhansen/2021/02/10/trump-campaign-paid-35-million-to-stop-the-steal-organizers-report-finds/?sh=5c789f8a37ae

² https://www.forbes.com/sites/sarahhansen/2021/02/10/trump-campaign-paid-35-million-to-stop-the-steal-organizers-report-finds/?sh=cfb21037ae38

³ https://www.cnn.com/2021/02/12/politics/trump-mccarthy-shouting-match-details/index.html

https://www.huffpost.com/entry/trump-pence-tweet-capitol-riot-impeachment-trial_n_6024b281c5b6b295bc045640

https://www1.cbn.com/cbnnews/politics/2021/february/impeachment-trial-shows-mob-chanting-hang-mike-pence-came-within-60-feet-of-vp

https://www.cnn.com/2021/02/08/politics/trump-january-6-speech-transcript/index.html

https://www.nytimes.com/2021/02/13/us/mcconnell-trump-impeachment-acquittal.html

Alan is a consulting psychologist with a long and storied history of helping organizations of all sizes become more enriching, empowering places to work.

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