Last night may have been the most important vice presidential debate in our nation’s history, for two reasons.
First, it offered a chance to reset the campaign after last week’s abysmal presidential debate that was widely panned as the worst of all time.
Indeed, last night’s debate succeeded in offering a discussion that was understandable (generally one person talking at a time), more civil and fairly substantive on issues. In succeeding on those levels, it seemed to reinvigorate interest in the campaign and hope in the process.
But it was also a critical debate for a more practical reason: age. Whether Trump or Biden wins, we will have our oldest-serving president come January. Trump’s bout with COVID – though he seems to have come through it well – was a sharp reminder of his elevated age and the associated risks.
And Biden is four years Trump’s senior. His frailty, especially of mind, has been unavoidable.
So it’s hardly a wild notion that, within a couple of years, the leader of the free world could be one of the candidates who was on that stage in Utah.
What then did we learn about them?
Vice President Pence is a fairly known quantity. He is well known for his faithful honoring of his wife and marriage. And his history of supporting pro-life and pro-family causes is well documented. That includes past service on the board of Family Policy Alliance’s longtime allied group in Indiana.
Those who really observed him for the first time last night saw that he is polite, thoughtful and well spoken, even if his answers ran long. Though there wasn’t a heavy focus on social issues, he certainly reiterated his support for school choice and for the sanctity of life. “I couldn’t be more proud to serve as Vice President to a President who stands without apology for the sanctity of human life,” he told the audience, adding “I am pro-life. I don’t apologize for it.”
For Sen. Kamala Harris, however, Wednesday night was by far her biggest stage and broadest exposure to voters. More Americans got to see what political observers have long recognized about her: She’s politically gifted with a penchant for throwing sharp elbows, as she did to Joe Biden during the primaries. Her supporters would call it tenacity; others see it as rudeness.
But while leaders’ behavior matters — just look at last week’s debate — ultimately it’s what they do in regards to policy and personnel that matters most.
Harris’s policy statements last night were socially liberal, to be sure: supporting abortion and declaring that she and Biden “will decriminalize marijuana and expunge the records of those who have been convicted of marijuana.”
That, however, merely touched the surface of her social issues agenda – one that is as radical, or more so, than any member of the U.S. Senate. As I’ve written in more detail, Harris is so extreme on abortion – anything goes – that she wants to pre-emptively stop states from passing new pro-life legislation.
She checks every box, and more, for the LGBT lobby – even pushing to force taxpayers to subsidize so-called “sex-change” surgeries. And on religious freedom, her agenda is simple: limit it.
Last night, we also got to see her dodge repeatedly on the question of whether she would push to pack the Supreme Court with additional liberal justices. Her evasion spoke volumes – and is an eerie indicator of the kind of radicalism that we will face if the Left takes over the White House and U.S. Senate.
Thankfully, voters still have a choice, including a very stark one between Pence and Harris.
The vice-presidential debate is now long over and forgotten. But toward the end of the debate, both candidates—self-proclaimed Christians—were asked to “discuss in detail a time when you struggled to balance your personal faith and a public policy position.”
Democratic candidate Tim Kaine responded: “I try to practice my religion in a very devout way and follow the teachings of my church in my own personal life. But I don’t believe that in this nation, a First Amendment nation, where we don’t raise any religion over the other, and we allow people to worship as they please, that the doctrines of any one religion should be mandated for everyone.” He went on to say that he and Hillary Clinton support Roe v. Wade and “a woman’s right to choose.”
In contrast, Republican candidate Mike Pence, now vice president-elect, said: “I would tell you that for me the sanctity of life proceeds out of the belief that . . . where God says before you were formed in the womb, I knew you, and so . . . I sought to stand with great compassion for the sanctity of life.” He continued, “so for me, my faith informs my life.”
One’s natural response was to paraphrase the Constitution and a Supreme Court ruling to justify his support for abortion on demand. The other’s was to cite God’s Word and how it directs his steps.
Both men’s faith teaches personhood at conception. Yet, only one aligns his actions with his faith.
We saw during that debate the contrast between a politician and a statesman—a person who stands firm and takes action (Dan. 11:32b) regardless of the personal consequences.
Your sacrificial gifts are training and discipling people like Mike Pence as Family Policy Foundation Statesmen. What a hopeful future we are building together!
President and CEO
Family Policy Alliance
The honor was bestowed on Pence because he has worked tirelessly to protect the sanctity of life in the state of Indiana. He has supported a partial birth abortion ban, the Unborn Victims of Violence Act and he led the fight to defund Planned Parenthood in Indiana.
“The fear of losing their federal funding has led them to target me for my pro-life positions,” he said several years ago when the group was attacking him. “They’ve even named me to their 2010 Election Hall of Shame for advocating a pro-life agenda on Capitol Hill, but I refuse to back down.”
After signing a law this year that makes sex selection and disability selection abortions illegal in his state, Pence summed up his work on behalf of life.
“I believe that a society can be judged by how it deals with its most vulnerable—the aged, the infirm, the disabled and the unborn,” he explained. “Reports show that Planned Parenthood, America’s largest abortion provider, receives nearly one-third of its $1 billion annual budget from the federal government. Our tax dollars should not be spent on abortions. I know it. You know it.”
Indiana Gov. Mike Pence is the apparent choice for Trump’s vice president. Pence, who has famously introduced himself as “a Christian, a conservative and a Republican – in that order,” has been a champion for conservative values in Indiana. What does his selection mean for the Republican Party and for Trump’s campaign?
We talked with Curt Smith of Indiana Family Action, who told us he thinks it’s a good thing for life, family and religious freedom.