Reflections on a Wandering Life.....

Sunday, January 31, 2021

Pence's Dilemma Explained 

Personal testimony of Vice President Pence, which he shared last October at the Faith in Leadership conference.

Much has been said about the horrible events on Wednesday the 6th. I may have more to say about that after we have more information about who was in that building. So far, I have only been able to identify two people. One was the lady who was shot, who was identified by her husband as a Trump supporter. The other was a BLM guy by the name of John Sullivan. I just heard that the barbarian guy was with Qanon, which I don't know much about. Anyway, I may revisit that part of it later when I have more information, but today I want to talk just about one thing, which is the comments I have been hearing about Pence, not from Democrats, but from Republicans who are deeply upset that the Vice President did not take it upon himself to single-handedly decertify electoral votes from certain states. This anger at Pence is based on the assumption that the Vice President has the power to overturn electoral votes for any given state. That is not true. I watched Ben Shapiro's synopsis of the day, where he seems to think that even Congress does not have that authority. I got curious about that, so I went back and checked the Electoral Count Act. It does seem that the act was put in place to minimize the involvement of the Congress in the decision making process, and leave that up to the states. But the problem is that several states sent dual sets of electors. Such an action seems to imply a request for decision from a higher authority. But whether or not the Congress has that authority, the Vice President acting alone certainly does not. Very sincere people think he should have that power, but I do not agree. It is unthinkable to me that one person in any government could, on his own, nullify the electoral slate for any given state.

But, as I said, very responsible people disagree with me. The most important of those relative to this election is Congressman Louis Gohmert, who filed a law suit in an attempt to get a court to declare that Pence had this authority. The court did not take the case because he "did not have standing." I think it is very unfortunate that courts have used the issue of standing to avoid getting involved. The result has been lots and lots of pent-up, unresolved conflict. But there is one thing Gohmert's attempt did accomplish. It established clearly where Pence stood on the matter. So I would have thought that would have put an end to expectations that Pence would take it upon himself to single-handedly decide that the Electoral Count Act was unconstitutional (in other words, in conflict with the twelfth amendment), and that it could be ignored.

Such was not to be. These expectations continued as if the case Louis Gohmert filed had never even happened. I do sympathize with sincere people who held out that hope. They felt very unhappy with what was arguably the worst election in American history (regardless of where you come down on who actually won), and they were so hoping that Pence could magically fix it. Here's Jenna Ellis:

I am deeply disappointed in Mike Pence. The Constitution constrains, yes, and that’s why we worked hard to provide him with a constitutional option to protect election integrity.

BUT, he should not have been in that position—state leadership was cowardly first; SCOTUS was also.

We cannot preserve a republic if those in power fail to protect it. What happened to standing up honorably and putting God, country, family above one’s self?

This is not over. We have to restore election integrity in our nation and with it, our founding principles and values.

I stand with President Trump and VP Pence condemning the violence at the Capitol and in DC today. That is not a display of patriotism or conservatism. We cannot abandon our principles because the other side is evil. We can’t help the left tear down our country.

In God We Trust.

Whatever you say about Jenna Ellis, she is a woman of integrity, and I have the highest regard for her. But I think she had expectations of Pence that were not realistic. To be fair, she wasn't really saying that Pence should single-handedly overturn the electoral results from the contested states. As she explained in a radio interview the day before, in those states where there were two slates of electors, she felt that Pence should refer them back to the States to request clarification.

I really wish I could have coffee with her or something and get some clarification, because she is saying that Pence should not open the envelopes from states that have sent two sets of votes. But since those states had sent dual sets of electors, does that not imply that they were requesting a decision from the Congress? How does it make sense, then, to send that decision back to them?

I do think that there needs to be clarification, perhaps from the Supreme Court on the following two items:

  1. Is the Election Act of 1887 constitutional?
  2. Who, or which elective body, is the final arbiter of disputed electoral votes?
It is very important that these two items be adjudicated, because it was precisely ambiguity about the Vice Presidents powers and responsibility that led to the unrest and anger. I saw one video of rioters entering the capital where I could actually hear someone saying, "Hang Pence!" This is awful.

But while some Republicans went off the rails because of their mistaken expectations of the Vice President, many of the Democrats were also going bonkers. Senator Ted Cruz and Senator Josh Hawley were savagely attacked for daring to object to electoral votes. But Democrats have raised objections several times in recent elections. Do we now have a country where Democrats can raise objections but Republicas cannot? Will somebody please explain to me how that’s fair? Democratic representative Bennie Thompson actually suggested that Cruz and Hawley could be classified as domestic terrorists and put on a no-fly list. And Hillary Clinton said there should be an investigation to see if Trump was on the phone with Putin while the capital was being broken into. It's only fair to mention that not all Democrats were on the looney wagon. Senator Dianne Feinstein defended their right to speak.

In today's podcast, I will help you understand the dilemma the Vice President faced and why I believe his options were limited. I am not defending this status quo--this needs to be fine tuned, because confusion about what Pence's role was partly fueld the anger against him. But given the current situation such as it was on January 6th, I think you will agree with me that Pence did not have much latitude in terms of changing (overturning or correcting, depending on your view of who actually won) the outcome.



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