Pence book excerpt: Trump gave voice to Americans fed up with decades of government mismanagement

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Editor’s note: The following are excerpts from “So Help Me God,” by former Vice President Mike Pence, being published Nov. 15. (Simon & Schuster, 560 pages)

I had met many Hoosiers who were frustrated and fed up. They were tired of being looked down on by Washington elites who didn’t understand their values and knew nothing about the places they called home. They felt firsthand what the U.S. leadership elite barely realized: wages weren’t keeping up with inflation, entire communities were being hollowed out as factories closed and moved to Mexico or Asia, an opioid epidemic was destroying families and communities, and many ways of earning a living were simply vanishing without replacement. What they saw from Washington was contempt and constant reminders that their country was just one of many, no better than any other and probably worse. And they had lived with the fallout from a long series of policy choices — from trade pacts to unending foreign wars, from starry-eyed attempts at nation-building to big government programs to be paid for by future generations. During my years in Congress and as governor I had supported free trade and the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. But with the rise of China, the struggles I had seen firsthand in manufacturing, and the War on Terror nearing twenty years, my outlook was changing as well.

Donald Trump was giving voice to the desperation and frustration caused by decades of government mismanagement and neglect. He articulated, in his own blunt way, the economic and social anxieties felt by Americans in a changing world — anxieties that the leaders in both parties ignored.

It was hardly a shock then that on May 3, Trump easily won Indiana’s primary, beating [Sen. Ted] Cruz by nearly 20 percentage points. In my defense the Texan did win every county I had campaigned with him in — all three of them.

The movement to deny Donald Trump the Republican nomination was over. The nomination was his. And I had pledged, before the votes were cast and counted, to support and work for the Republican candidate, whomever he ended up being. I endorsed Donald Trump for president before the week was out.

That settled, I focused on my own campaign for reelection. But I could not entirely avoid presidential politics. In early June, Trump stated that Judge Gonzalo Curiel, a Hoosier with a civil lawsuit against Trump before his court, was incapable of giving him a fair trial because of his Mexican heritage and Trump’s pledge to build a wall between the United States and Mexico. When asked about it by the Indiana press, I answered forthrightly. I called the candidate’s statement “inappropriate” and said it was never right to question a judge’s impartiality based on his ethnicity. I also reminded the press that I was running for governor and that if I had wanted to weigh in on every comment made by the candidates for president, I would have run for president. Not long after, Kellyanne Conway, my pollster and a friend of the Republican nominee, told me that Trump had said, “How come everyone can’t criticize me the way Governor Pence does?” … (Chapter 14, pages 141-142)

No regrets

Since leaving office, people have often asked me about my relationship with President Trump. I tell them I will always be grateful that he chose me to be his vice president. He was my president and he was my friend. For four years, we had a close working relationship. It did not end well. But as you have read on these pages, we parted amicably when our service to the nation drew to a close. In the months that followed, we spoke from time to time, but when the president returned to the rhetoric that he was using before that tragic day and began to publicly criticize those of us who defended the Constitution, I decided it would be best to go our separate ways.

President Trump and I may never agree on the events surrounding January 6, but I will always believe, by God’s grace, I did my duty that day, and I will always be proud of our record and the good work we did for the American people.

In four short years, we rebuilt our military, secured our border, revived our economy, unleashed American energy, and, most important of all, gave the American people a new beginning for life. The Supreme Court’s historic decision to overturn Roe v. Wade righted a historic wrong by returning the question of abortion to the states and the American people. The fact that three of the five justices who joined that opinion were appointed during the Trump-Pence administration makes all the hardship we endured from 2016 forward more than worth it. Restoring the sanctity of life to the center of American law has been the calling of my life. Now our movement has the opportunity to save countless innocent lives and come alongside women facing crisis pregnancies as never before, supporting the unborn and the newborn with generosity and compassion. To have had the privilege — along with generations of pro- life champions — to have played some small role in that victory for life will be something I cherish for the rest of my days.

The road wasn’t always easy, and I can’t claim perfection, but I have no regrets for setting out on this journey with all of you.

What I do regret is watching so much of what the Trump-Pence administration accomplished overturned or eroded in the months that followed our departure: the economy, ready to rebound after the pandemic, dragged down by inflation; U.S. energy production, soaring under President Trump, stifled in favor of green extremism; the hard-earned tools and knowledge in the fight against COVID wasted as the pandemic continued; a crisis at the southern border and a disastrous withdrawal from Afghanistan, emboldening the enemies of freedom from Eastern Europe to the Asian Pacific; and a steady assault on the liberties and traditional values of millions of Americans.

But as disheartening as these events have been, they are only the reflections on a passing American government, not the American people.

My faith in the American people and our Constitution will always be boundless. No system has ever been more perfectly designed to protect freedom, no people have ever done more good for mankind. Someday — and soon — we will once again have a government as good as our people. And when we do, the time we are passing through today will be only a footnote in our history. What we did once, we will do again. (Epilogue, pages 480-481)

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