Mike Pence, Republican Martyr

The Cato Institute in Washington, D.C., issues a biennial fiscal policy report card for the nation’s governors. The report grades governors on their success in streamlining state government and increasing economic vitality by cutting taxes and spending.

In the most recent report, issued in October 2014, four governors out of 50 received an “A.” One of those four was Mike Pence of Indiana.

According to Cato, in addition to cutting personal income taxes, Pence “accelerated cuts to the state’s corporate income tax, thus allowing businesses to invest more in their companies and employees … and repealed the state’s inheritance tax that burdens the families of small-business owners and Indiana farmers.”

“Indiana’s economy … grew faster than the national average,” the report continues. “Since 2013, Indiana has grown its private-sector workforce by 3.2 percent.”

But Pence’s fiscal accomplishments, which boosted the economy of his state, were not of much interest to big corporations headquartered and operating in Indiana — companies like Cummins, Angie’s List, Eli Lilly and Apple — as they pounced on Pence in the furor over the new Indiana Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

The logic behind the Religious Freedom Restoration Act is no different from the logic behind cutting taxes and government spending. It’s about protecting what once was an undisputed value in America: individual freedom.

But when it comes to the clash between political correctness and individual freedom, big corporations, with rare exception, come out for the former.

Even the libertarian Cato Institute, which supports same-sex marriage, supported the Indiana Religious Freedom Restoration Act in its original version, noting that it was about individual freedom and not about being anti-gay.

But these businesses don’t care about principles. Certainly they have well-staffed legal departments with attorneys from top law schools who must know something about the U.S. Constitution. But truth is irrelevant to them. This is about political power and blackmail.

So now Pence has caved to economic blackmail from businesses and other entities generating revenue for his state.

The RFRA has been amended to remove protections for Christian businesses from being forced to provide services for sexual activities that violate their religious faith — like photography for a gay wedding.

And, of course, now that concessions have been made to homosexual activists, they are not enough.

Now the battle cry is to establish LGBTQ as a protected class under civil rights law.

Not surprisingly, speculation is underway about how this will impact Pence’s political future. His concession on the Indiana RFRA will likely hurt him as a potential Republican presidential contender.

But in a way, Pence has become a martyr. Pence is a good man with solid conservative values. And as a good conservative, he cares about people. What could he possibly do if businesses threaten economic blackmail, thereby threatening employment in his state?

The price Pence has paid in trying to be principled in an unprincipled environment will, I think, strengthen the Republican Party.

The liberal left is principled and consistent. Squashing religious freedom for gay-rights claims, abortion on demand, government health care, government schools, support and expansion of entitlement programs — Social Security and Medicare — despite their fiscal bankruptcy, government housing and expansive welfare are all part of the uncompromising and unapologetic agenda of the left. And the press reports these stands as reasonable and moderate.

But support for freedom is portrayed as extreme. Religious freedom, private health care, school choice, private retirement accounts, housing and health care vouchers to replace HUD and Medicaid — anything advancing individual empowerment and freedom — are portrayed as right-wing extremism.

However, this is exactly what the nation needs. Americans need real choice. We don’t need one consistent hard-core leftwing party and a second party that apologizes and compromises.

This disaster in Indiana will, I think, put backbone into the Republican Party. Thank you, Mike Pence.



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  1. Star continues to dispense “common sense,” the most valuable thing that has gone missing in America!

  2. What no one seems to realize is that, legally speaking, Pence won this. Regardless of the amendment (which only reiterates what was already true–RFRA does not give permission to discriminate), Indiana now has the highest Constitutionally-permissible level of protection for religious liberty. Had the RFRA been repealed or rewritten, that would not be the case. And he retained all the stompy-feet gay-friendly businesses by simply restating what was already law. And now he knows who they are. Pence won. Indiana won. The gay community got snookered and lost their chance to turn Indianapolis into Ferguson because all parties involved presented a united front backing the amended bill (which carried no material changes enforceable in law).