"RENEWING THE AMERICAN DREAM"
From 1992 to 1999, Congressman Pence would espouse these credentials every day on his syndicated talk show heard throughout Indiana. In November of 2004, he was re-elected to his third term in the United States Congress from Indiana’s 6th Congressional District.
Mike Pence personifies the core conservative values of the Red-State-Midwest commonly known as “Hoosier Values.” Born in Columbus, Indiana into an extremely patriotic family (Mike still cherishes the Bronze Star his father was awarded in Korea,) Mike’s parents instilled in him the values that became the guiding principles throughout his life. As example, when Pence was attending Law School, he and his wife Karen donated their spare time volunteering at a local soup kitchen in Indianapolis, Indiana through Catholic Charities.
On January 29th of 2004, Congressman Pence appeared in Cal Thomas’s nationally syndicated column under the heading, “Trouble With Bush’s Right.” Cal had just returned from the annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Washington, D.C., where he heard a powerful and stirring speech from Pence entitled, “Christian-conservative-Republican (In That Order).” Thomas was so deeply moved by the Congressman’s words that he devoted his entire column that week to Pence’s speech.
Congressman Pence is one of the great polemicists of our time and has been a great source of encouragement to everyone who knows him. He has a very clear vision for dynamic reforming of government in the 21st Century and as he becomes more prominent in the years ahead as a national figure, we hope he will continue articulating what resonates in the hearts of an overwhelming majority of American citizens.
It is one thing to espouse being a “Christian-conservative-Republican (In That Order),” yet it is quite another thing being able to prove it. There are an awful lot of people who ride into power, money and prestige on the coattails of the crucified Christ. Likewise, there are those who claim to be conservatives while promoting a liberal agenda. And there is an even larger percentage of people who claim to be Republicans who undermine the Republican platform and everything it stands for (we affectionately refer to these individuals as RINO’s, or “Republicans In Name Only”.) So how are we to determine the validity of their claims?
Is Mike Pence a Christian?
“The true Christian is the true citizen, lofty of purpose, resolute in endeavor, ready for a hero’s deeds, but never looking down on his task because it is cast in the day of small things.”
Theodore Roosevelt: Speech in New York
December 30, 1900
Not too long ago, when we talked about people in Washington having “convictions,” it meant they were going to prison for a while. We all remember former President Bill Clinton waving his oversized Bible in front of the press cameras on Sunday mornings, while at the same time desecrating the sanctity of the White House by having extramarital sex in the Oval Office with a young intern. I am reminded of the old adage, “Just because you go to McDonald’s, doesn’t make you a hamburger.” So the challenge is, of course, before we can define whether someone is a Christian or not, we must first define what it means to be a Christian.
The best definition I have ever encountered of what it means to be a Christian comes from a sermon Father Todd Riebe of the Richmond Catholic Community delivered on January 9, 2005:
“Whenever a new leader appears on the scene, whether it’s a new coach, a new university president, or the CEO of a Fortune 500 company, a press conference is usually called to proclaim the leader’s qualifications and potential. These press conferences usually generate some excitement about the leader’s identity and arouse expectations about what the leader will accomplish.
“Today we celebrate the Baptism of the Lord. It is the event that marked the beginning of Jesus’ public ministry and in a biblical way it is the equivalent of a press conference – but a unique press conference. God Himself reveals His Son, Jesus, as the long-awaited Messiah – the anointed one – the Christ. And in the waters of the River Jordan we are given a preview of what His mission will be.
“In the first reading from the Profit Isaiah we heard the mission that would belong to the Messiah. He will establish justice, open the eyes of the blind, bring out prisoners from their confinement, lift up those who have fallen and heal the bruised.
“There’s a twofold dimension to what is revealed at Jesus’ baptism. First, He is revealed as God’s own Son, and secondly, His mission is revealed – He will do the work of God. Identity and mission.
“So, too, our baptism, perhaps caught in pictures or today even in video, is something to be lived out each and every day. It is not enough for us to accept baptism passively as something done to us – we must allow it to shape our deepest identity as children of God – beloved children of God – and we must find in our baptism our fundamental vocation – our call to be other ‘christs’ in the world.
“No matter what work we do – whether it be a bank president or priest or teacher or student or factory worker – we were anointed at our baptism with chrism – sweet smelling perfume – and we are called to take the fragrance of Christ wherever we go.
”We are called to bring relief to people whose lives have been bruised, to bring new sight to those who have been blinded by the false promises of the world, to free people who have been imprisoned by the injustice of ignorance or prejudice, to show sympathy to those who have lost a loved one, to assist the sick and shut-in, to bring understanding where there is conflict.
“Jesus’ baptism was not an end – it was a beginning, the beginning of His life’s work. So, too, our baptism was not an end. It was the beginning of the world to which we have been called by God – the work of those who have been anointed – set apart as other christs – set apart to continue His saving work.
”What is our identity and what is our mission in life? At His baptism Jesus’ identity was revealed and his mission was revealed. At our baptism our identity was revealed and our mission was given to us.”
When Father Riebe was asked for a copy of his sermon, he was told it was going to be used in a book to define what it means to be a Christian, and would be used in the chapter devoted to Mike Pence. His eyes lit up, he smiled broadly and said, “Oh yes, he’s the genuine article!”
We will call upon witnesses who can testify that he is an extraordinarily effective leader who is willing to take a moral stand based on Biblical principles.
Throughout most of the 1990’s, Micah Clark served as Director of Public Policy for an Indiana-based advocacy organization associated with Focus on the Family, one of the largest Christian ministries in the United Sates.
Micah Clark writes:
“At the pro-family organization we were fortunate to have Mike and Karen Pence as members of our board ...As I recall, it was the policy of our organization to ask perspective board members to sign or give a statement of faith. For a person who was often heard telling tens of thousands that he was a Christian, I doubt if Mike’s statement of faith was anything more than a mere formality to joining our board.
After all, a statement of faith, a radio celebrity’s claim to Christianity, or even a Congressman’s association with God in the heartland of America is hardly a tough sell. In fact, to state that you lack such faith in many areas of Indiana will still raise eyebrows even in 2005.
Our Lord tells us that on judgment day when Christ reviews our life on this earth, “many will say to me on that day Lord, Lord did we not prophesy in you name?” He will then say, “depart from me I never knew you.” It is clear that a mere claim to faith is not in and of itself steadfast evidence of one’s being a true believer.
So the question before this audience is “do we have real evidence of Indiana’s 6th District Congressman’s faith?” In this matter, I am surely not the foremost authority. Many of the Congressman’s closest friends are quick to testify of his deep convictions and personal faith in the very best sense of those terms with a long list of examples or stories.
I could easily point to many public evidences of Mike Pence being a man possessing a life-altering, personally-influential faith in all the standard ways. Even after two full terms in Congress, Mike Pence has continued his close association with many other well known believers, faith-based organizations and his own church. I could point to his congressional record of defending the values which are so strongly rooted in faith. I could point to his clearly articulated concerns over the moral decay of society. I could point to his passionate speeches skillfully using Biblical references and principles which amazingly neither compromise truth nor divide most audiences. I could point to his legislative success in protecting “the least of these” among us, our children, from the forces of evil in the pornography industry. The list would be a long one, indeed.
Yet, there is another standard that Christ gave to his disciples in which he said that all people would know that one is a follower of His. He said we would be known as His followers if we have “love for one another.” On this one criteria, I would rest my case as personal evidence of Mike Pence being a man of faith.
As Mike was becoming a household word in many Hoosier homes through 15 hours of radio each week and a Saturday television show, I had the privilege of meeting Mike from time to time for lunch, almost always at his request. Mike knew that although I was a pro-family leader, privately I could struggle with difficult personal matters very common to any Hoosier family. Yet, as a pro-family leader, I could not share it, or discuss it with just anyone. (I have often wondered how, when Dr. James Dobson, one of the nation’s foremost authorities on parenting, faced a challenge raising his son or daughter, was he able to tell anyone? Many leaders cannot just tell anyone that they are facing a matter everyone else faces, because no one expects you to encounter them because of who you are. It is the same reason we act surprised when we hear that our family doctor got a cold and called in sick.)
Mike always got to the heart of the matter in our discussions. We rarely discussed public policy. Instead we talked about our family, challenges we were facing or how God was working in our lives. They were talks coming from a compassionate concern from one believer for a fellow believer running in the same race. When Mike said, “I’ll be praying for you,” I knew he meant it. There were times looking back now when I see that God had clearly ordained certain meetings and discussions for a specific purpose, even if it was as simple as the important blessing of timely encouragement from a friend. It was a faith in action that to this day I have never forgotten.
Maybe when you talk politics on the radio you desire real life conversations. Maybe when you are a politician from a conservative district you know that to talk of God and to vote conservative is “good politics.” But when you are Mike Pence, a man of real faith, you simply express it, act on it, and you put that ‘love one another’ command into practice.”
Micah Clark is currently the Executive Director of the American Family Association of Indiana.
Is Mike Pence a Conservative?
“But look at us today. Security is above self-respect. We ask more money for less work. We are weaklings who want the government to take care of us when we should be taking care of ourselves. We pamper criminals and subversives when we should punish them. And we condemn those among us with the traits of their forefathers as reactionaries.”
Barry Goldwater: Mr. Conservative: Barry Goldwater
Doubleday and Company 1962
Mike Pence’s entry onto the political stage is clearly a defining moment in our nation’s history. His tremendous core conservatism is dedicated to limited government, fiscal government and traditional family values. He has become a national spokesman for conservative principles, appearing regularly on “NBC Nightly News,” “ABC World News Tonight,” CNN’s “Wolf Blitzer Reports,” and Crossfire,” and has been quoted in the New York Times, The Washington Post and the Wall Street Journal. He has also appeared on numerous programs on the Fox News Channel.
We will attempt to prove that it is Pence’s belief and hope that in the decades to come, the justness of our cause as a nation will not only be realized by the powerful and wealthy, but will also be realized within the obscure and hurting corners of our community. This realization has not materialized after nearly 60 years of Washington being dominated by liberals within the Democratic party, although they have professed all along that they are “for the down-and-outs” of our society. It has been a lie that followed on the heel of the natural consequences of socialism.
For our first group of witnesses, we call upon the 90-plus group of House conservatives who voted by an overwhelming 100 per cent to elect Mike Pence as their chairman of the House Republican Study Committee in the 109th Congress. Pence gave up his job as deputy whip to assume the chairmanship of the Republican Study Committee, and to quote Mike himself, “The agenda of the House conservatives comes first…For either he will hate the one, and love the other, or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other ( a clear reference to Matthew 6:24.)”
David A. Keene, Chairman of the American Conservative Union, recently congratulated Rep. Mike Pence of Indiana upon his selection as chairman of the Republican Study Committee in the U.S. House of Representatives:
“The Republican Study Committee is a bulwark of Reagan conservatism in the House,” said Keene. “And Mike Pence is one of the most distinguished conservative leaders in Congress.”
“Clearly, the American Conservative Union chose well when it selected Congressman Pence to deliver the keynote address at this year’s Conservative Political Action Conference. Mr. Pence’s speech was eloquent and stirring, a principled declaration on the current state of the conservative movement in an era of Republican hegemony in Congress.”
“ACU has every confidence that under Mike Pence’s leadership, the Republican Study Committee will continue to serve as the philosophical rudder to keep the Republican majority sailing a straight and true conservative course.”
Pence drew the ire of House leaders when he opposed legislation that would grant Medicare prescription-drug benefits because he knew it to be a budget buster, and a “prescription for disaster.” At a $400 Billion price tag over the next ten years, it became the largest increase in entitlements since Lyndon B. Johnson’s “New Deal.” According to Wes Vernon (NewsMax.com Wednesday, Jan. 5, 2005,) “Rep. Mike Pence…cheerfully acknowledges this may make him ‘the skunk at the garden party,’ but he is determined to right what he and millions of Americans see as terrible wrongs...to eliminate the entitlement part of the prescription drug law. They will introduce legislation to narrow the benefits to those truly in need. The Midwest lawmaker estimates that would involve about 25% of the new law’s largesse. Many fear the prescription law, passed in the wee hours after much arm-twisting, will make it difficult, if not impossible, to keep taxes low in the future.”
On the issue of how conservative members of the House can unite and oppose rule changes, Pence cited the bankruptcy bill in which Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY) added a provision that would deny protection to anti-abortion activists participating in protests. Conservatives rallied enough opposition that the bill was withdrawn from the floor of the House. The bill was later redrafted and passed without the abortion provision.
The following excerpts were pulled from a January 24, 2004 interview of David Keene on “NOW” with Bill Moyers.
What would happen if you asked conservatives at your meeting to pass a resolution calling on President Bush to veto this budget-busting bill that was passed this week?
Well, the message from this meeting this week, where we have about 4,000 conservatives from around the country, these are the people that are the President’s base, is that, by golly, it’s time to do something about government spending. And we are, in fact, demanding that something be done.
As Congressman Mike Pence from Indiana said in the keynote to our convention, “When the ship starts to veer off –course or drift off-course, the crew ought to alert the captain that they sense that there’s something wrong so that they can make corrections.” This crew’s been alerting the captain. And I think there’s evidence that the captain’s beginning to listen.
What, in essence, defines a conservative today?
I think I’ll go back to what Mike Pence said in opening this conference this week. We talked about the conservative desire for a smaller and limited government. A government that doesn’t tax people to death, a government that doesn’t regulate them to death, a government that doesn’t spend money that doesn’t exist.
We talked about the fact that conservatives believe in a strong defense, believe in being able to defend our population and in traditional values that conservatives have historically stood for. And Mike put it very effectively. He said, “If you don’t believe in those things you can be my friend, you can be our ally. We’ll work with you. But you don’t have the right to stand up and call yourself a conservative.
David Keene writes:
“Men and women run for Congress for a variety of reasons. Some want to “serve” and others crave the rush that comes from the exercise of political power. Others run because politics runs in their family or because they can’t think of anything else they might do with their lives.
Many such people get elected, serve honorably and provide the services to their constituents that are expected of a competent elected official. They retire or move on, however, without making any real mark or changing much. They are content to have served and to be remembered as decent, popular vote getters who did the work their constituents and party leaders expected of them.
Others, however, run not because they need or crave the job, but because they believe they can make a difference; because they share a vision of America that requires them to do what they can to preserve what’s best about the nation into which they have been born and to leave it an even better place for those who come after. They are motivated, in short, not by simple self-interest…though the best of them tend to be pretty good politicians…nor by a desire to exercise power for its own sake. They are motivated instead by their understanding of what politicians can do to build what Ronald Reagan so movingly described as “the Shining City upon a Hill.”
They are, in short, idealists in the very best sense of the word. They get up in the morning knowing what needs to be done and prepared to do what they honorably can to advance their ideals. They know too that in the political world in which they have chosen to operate it is never very easy to stick to their principles or to always distinguish between the tactical compromises that are a necessary part of politics and those that can eventually cost them their ideological souls.
The best of them work within their Parties and become effective legislators without slavishly following their “leaders” when asked to take positions they know to be wrong for political or partisan reasons. There aren’t as many of them as there should be, but they tend to step forward when they’re needed to stand up for traditional American values. Without them the great experiment that is the United States would by now be but a memory.
Mike Pence is such a legislator. He likes to describe himself as a Christian, a Conservative and a Republican…in that order and the description is apt. His conservative beliefs are based on his faith and the belief in the dignity of the individual that flows from that faith and I know that if he had to choose between his career and the beliefs he holds so dear, he wouldn’t take a second to make the choice.
Like most conservatives today, he sees the modern Republican Party as the most reliable effective political organization on the scene. As a consequence, when he ran for office he ran as a Republican and spends a great deal of time working to make his chosen party both more effective and more consistently conservatism, but when faced with a choice between principle and party he has never hesitated to stick with his principles.
That is not always easy as any political party is an at best imperfect vehicle for the idealist and a party’s leaders are prone to ask or even demand blind loyalty of its members. In the last Congress, Mike was faced with just such a demand as the President and Congressional party leaders sought votes for a bill that Mike and most conservatives believed ill-conceived and financially imprudent.
Still, many and perhaps even most of his conservative colleagues swallowed hard, put their misgivings aside and followed their leaders. Mike didn’t. He emerged as a leader of a small band of conservatives willing to stand against their leaders and even their President in the name of principle. They withstood the pleas and threats. Virtually all of them were forced to tell the President of the United States personally as well as their leaders in Congress that they couldn’t go along with them and still look at themselves in the mirror.
That was not easy. They lost the fight, but made their point and went on during the ensuing campaign that while they were not prepared to abandon principle, they were willing to work their hearts out for their party and President. They proved themselves good Republicans, but better conservatives and for that won the respect of all who knew them.
Their fear was that the President had strayed off course and was not doing all he could to keep government spending under control. They feared, quite correctly, that if he and their GOP leaders in Congress weren’t willing to fight to gain control, spending and government could spin out of control.
They made their point. Presidents rarely admit they are wrong, but this time the President promised that things would be different during his second term and that promise was repeated time and time again during his campaign for re-election as well as in his first State of the Union message after the election. By standing up, Mike and his colleagues made a difference and, in the process, made their President a stronger and more effective leader.
Although I doubt Mike expected it as he lost his fight, it was the way he fought it that has made him a hero among his colleagues and among all those who know him. When he was selected before the beginning of this Congress to head the Republican Study Committee, the organization to which most conservatives in the House belong, he accepted the position and announced that before he accepted it he had decided that he would drop the party leadership post for which he had also been selected. He did so, he explained, because “one cannot serve two masters.”
All of this demonstrates not only that Mike puts principle above party and that by doing so serves principles and his party. “
David Keene, a graduate of the University of Wisconsin Law School, is a political activist and columnist. As Chairman of the American Conservative Union (the oldest and largest grassroots conservative organization in America,) he appears regularly on national television, and his column appears regularly in THE HILL, a newspaper that covers Congress.
Joe Feuerherd, in his January 5, 2005 column in the National Catholic Reporter, said of Mike Pence:
“…He takes the issues, though not himself seriously. Which is an accomplishment in itself, particularly because Pence – leader of the 100-plus member House Republican Study Committee (RSC) – may prove to be one of the most important members of Congress over the next two years, in addition to being a not-insignificant thorn in the side of Speaker Dennis Hastert, majority Leader Tom Delay and President George W. Bush.
“As the unanimously elected RSC chairman, Pence represents a breed of Republican not in favor with the big spenders of the current administration. “Reagan proved deficits don’t matter,” Vice President Dick Cheney reportedly told former Treasury Secretary Paul O’Neill.
“Pence, by contrast, not only says he opposes “big government,” he actually votes that way. He opposed the Republican-backed Medicare prescription drug benefit (the “entitlement” portion of which he’s hoping to repeal this year), he voted against the “No Child Left Behind Act” (which sought “to make Washington, D.C., a national board of education”) and regrets his support for the $462 billion farm bill.
“Pence won 67 percent of the vote last November in his east central Indiana district, up from just 51 percent in 2000. His conservative economic views – free trade and less government – are not universally popular in his district, which, between 1975-95, was represented by a Democrat. It is his “traditional moral values” position on abortion, marriage and other social issues that lead to the district’s “Reagan Democrats” to overwhelmingly vote for him, says Pence.
“Pence in many ways personifies the Red State Republicans whose influence will be felt both within their own party and on the national stage for decades to come…”
Is Mike Pence a Republican?
“I resist the word ‘moderate’ because it is a base-stealing word for the benefit of GOP liberals.”
Wm. F. Buckley, Jr. “On The Right”
March 21, 1967
Republicans come in all shapes and sizes. The Party accommodates and allows for Liberals, moderates and Conservatives to set at the same table, and demonstrates a clear conflict of visions, all under the umbrella of the Republican Party. So how do we define the term “Republican?” And how do we distinguish between the so-called “Rockefeller Republicans” versus the “Reagan Republicans?” And which one of these examples best exemplifies the principles of the party? After all, anyone can lay claim to being a Republican, but can they really hold to that title if they do not believe in its core principles? It would be the moral equivalent of a fox in the hen house claiming to be a vegetarian.
To answer these questions, we must first look at the Republican Party Platform (see: www.gop.com/media/2004platform.pdf) which clearly spells out what the Republican Party stands for:
· As the party of Lincoln, we stand for freedom.
· We stand for the freedom of families and individuals to have good schools, good health care, and affordable housing and services.
· We stand for freedom that comes with a good paying job in a growing economy.
· We stand for the freedom and dignity of every human life, in every stage of life.
· We know that freedom is not America’s gift to the world; freedom is the Almighty’s gift to every man, woman, and child in the world. And we stand for a hopeful tomorrow that will come from total and complete victory in the War on Terror.
George Witwer writes:
"I became active in Hoosier politics in the early 1990’s while writing for the Indiana Policy Review, a conservative think tank. At the beginning I ran across Mike Pence, a forceful Republican candidate for Congress who seemed to be a rising star for the Party. Mike loyally attended statewide Republican rallies, and campaigned across the district for other Republicans as well as himself. I was impressed then that this was a man who cared about more than just his own success. He cared about the success of his fellow Republicans and the health of his Party.
Unfortunately, Mike’s back-to-back campaigns for Congress were unsuccessful. In his first run, he came close to upsetting the Democrat incumbent. In a rematch, Mike found his opponent was ready for him. When his opponent had clearly established a significant lead, his Republican campaign advisors convinced him to run negative ads against his opponent rather than positive ads about what he believed in. This was difficult for Mike because Mike, more than most, was running because of his passion for the ideals of the “Republican ‘Party as expressed so well by President Reagan. But his loyalty to his Party convinced him that he should follow the advice of his advisors.
When the election was over, Mike discovered that voters knew him but not what he stood for. He realized that he could have served his Party even better if he had campaigned about his Republican ideals rather than about his opponent’s failures. He wrote “Confessions of a negative Campaigner” to outline his beliefs. This manifesto for running on one’s ideals has served him and many other candidates well ever since.
In Mike’s “wilderness period” which followed his Congressional runs, Mike was focused on serving as President of the Indiana Policy Review, followed by his career as a radio commentator. He laughed at the idea of ever running again for office. During this time, I became a Republican candidate for governor and eventually won the Republican nomination for Lt. Governor. Mike simply cared about my success. But I was not the only Republican he helped. As I campaigned across Indiana, I would frequently run across other Republican candidates who were also benefiting from Mike’s insights. Mike never let up in helping the Party even though he himself saw no personal benefit.
When Mike’s Congressman surprisingly decided to run for governor in 2000, and thus an opening to fill this Congressional seat arose, Mike’s generous help and support of Republicans came back around to his aid. He cruised to victory in the Republican primary and then in the general election.
Now Mike is a rising star in Congress, and has won two reelections by large margins. But even while he could be caught up in his own success, Mike still spends much of the election season helping local and state Republican candidates with their races. He even played an enormously valuable role in the Indiana Republicans winning back the State House in 2004 by going door to door and speaking at rallies for state legislative challengers.
Mike’s loyalty to the Republican Party plays out in everything Mike does. Maybe the best way to understand how Mike balances his commitment to being “a Christian, a Conservative and a Republican, in that order” was when he accepted an invitation to be the keynote speaker at the annual meeting of CPAC in February, 2004.
This was at a time when President Bush had pushed through a prescription drug program that entitled trillions of dollars of unfunded mandates. Mike had been a leading Republican voice against the program, reluctantly opposing the President in 2003. When asked by the media why he opposed the program, he simply said, “because I am a Republican.”
Mike’s articulate opposition to the program made him a conservative hero. Conservatives were angry at the biggest unfunded expansion of the American welfare state in history, especially so because it was pushed through by Republicans. So when he was invited to speak to thousands of conservative activists attending CPAC, he could have decided to tear into the President and the Republican Party. Instead, Mike’s keynote address was a healing message, uniting the party around its core principles to bring it back on course.
Mike never puts his political interests before the Republican Party or his fellow Republicans. He cares deeply about the success of his Party, and understands its vital role in advancing his core beliefs. Mike is guided by the example of Ronald Reagan, who also built the Republican Party while winning elections and advancing his conservative principles. I suppose this is why Mike keeps a statue of President Reagan sitting on his desk in his Congressional office.
Mike is a great Republican because of his abiding commitment to the success of his Party. It is that commitment that enables him to live up to the standard of being “a Christian, a Conservative and a Republican, in that order.”
George Witwer was the Republican nominee for Lieutenant Governor, Indiana, in 1996; co-owner, Bluffton News-Banner; senior fellow, Indiana Policy Review; B.A., magna cum laude, philosophy and economics, Amherst College; MBA, marketing and finance, University of Chicago; attends St. Joseph’s Catholic Church.
Mike Pence is indeed a Christian, Conservative, Republican (In That Order.)
Labels: David A. Keene, Father Todd Riebe, Geroge Witwer, Mike Pence