Donald Trump clearly has no business being president. But Mike Pence isn't any better.
There is growing consensus, even among some Republicans, that Donald Trump is not fit to be president.
But if Trump were to leave office, either by removal or by resignation, America would still have a serious problem on its hands — and that problem's name is Mike Pence.
"He's ideological, I consider him a zealot, and I think that in terms of a lot of domestic policy certainly would be worse than Trump," said Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) in a recent interview.
It's hard to imagine anyone worse than Trump. He has demonstrated a complete lack of understanding, or willingness to learn, about the duties of his office and the basic functioning of the government. His off-script statements and Twitter outbursts have had serious consequences for his administration's agenda, not to mention relationships with America's allies.
And then, of course, there are the potentially criminal and impeachable offenses now being investigated by the special counsel looking into Russia's meddling in our election and the possible collusion with members of the Trump campaign.
On matters of foreign policy, Franken acknowledges that Pence might be slightly better than Trump — but only "because of Trump’s personality and character.”
Trump "is so outside the norm in his behavior that that actually does concern me," Franken added, "and it concerns me that I don't know what he will do if he looks like he's going to be impeached and he wants to deflect. I don't know what he's capable of, and that really does concern me.”
But Pence's zealotry is no small thing. As a member of Congress and as governor of Indiana, Pence's record is one of frightening ideological extremism. As he recently stated — proudly — to a group of House Republicans, "I was the Freedom Caucus before the Freedom Caucus existed."
The House Freedom Caucus is the ultra-conservative group of Republicans who split off from another conservative caucus, the Republican Study Committee, because they had decided it was not extremist enough.
Pence is also the original general in the conservative war against Planned Parenthood. He was the first person to introduce legislation in Congress to "defund" the health care provider, a fact of which he has often boasted over the years.
As Indiana's governor, he signed anti-abortion legislation that was so extreme, even some of his fellow Republicans objected.
His record on LGBTQ rights is also abominable, and he has long supported "religious liberty" laws that would permit businesses to discriminate on the basis of their so-called religious beliefs.
Perhaps what makes Pence more dangerous than Trump is that he is disciplined and knows how to stay on message. A Pence White House certainly would not feature the same level of drama and disorder that Trump's does — but that means Pence could be far more efficient than the flailing and failing Trump when it comes to enacting dangerous legislation.
But Pence is not without his own legal issues. He recently lawyered up as the investigation into Trump, and now his possible obstruction of justice, continues to unfold. Pence has proclaimed his innocence and ignorance of the many Trump team scandals, but that has repeatedly proven to be false.
While it is becoming exceedingly clear that Trump has no business being in the Oval Office, Pence's zealotry proves he doesn't belong there either.