Pence’s NFL publicity exposes lack of conservative principles

Michael Jensen

By now, many of us have probably grown tired of the Trump administration’s seemingly endless feud with the NFL. Unfortunately for millions of Americans, Vice President Mike Pence is not among them. 

Pence abruptly left an NFL game between the Indianapolis Colts and the San Francisco 49ers after witnessing some players kneeling during the national anthem. Besides needlessly extending the lifespan of a pointless feud, Pence’s ludicrously expensive publicity stunt was also incredibly hypocritical. It’s beyond ridiculous that a so-called limited-government fiscal conservative would waste over $240,000 of taxpayer money just to spite private citizens for exercising their right to protest.

This would not be the first time Americans have had to suffer through one of Pence’s moral crusades. From his rigid stance on dining with women to his much more laid-back attitude towards gay conversion therapy and legalized LGBT discrimination, Pence is exceptionally fond of forcing his beliefs on others. Besides the former being unscientific and both being mean-spirited, they’re also examples of big government run amok — something a conservative like Pence should oppose. 

Despite this weekend’s excesses, Pence has not always been so careless with government money, especially with regards to abortion. As governor of Indiana, Pence signed eight anti-abortion bills in fewer than four years, placing harsher restrictions on women’s constitutionally backed right to abortion. Pence cares so strongly about the issue that he wanted to block federal abortion funding for victims of “non-forcible” rape. If the vice president believes victims of sexual assault don’t deserve financial assistance from the government, then he should personally refrain from spending taxpayer money on expensive flights and football tickets. 

Pence’s supporters might claim he was defending the flag from the unpatriotic display of kneeling football players. This is false, as those participating in these protests have repeatedly said they were protesting police brutality and racial injustice, not the flag. Of course, there’s evidence that Pence’s supposedly spontaneous reaction was actually premeditated. But even if Trump ordered his vice president to carry out this wasteful stunt, what kind of principled conservative would actually go along with it? 

Whether you actually agree with the way NFL players such as Colin Kaepernick have decided to protest our country’s treatment of black Americans, Pence’s most recent misadventure is still inexcusable. American citizens who non-violently exercise their First Amendment rights to fight injustice are infinitely more principled and patriotic than a government official wasting taxpayer money to stir up controversy. Maybe if Pence had actually stayed to watch the game, he would have learned that. 

Michael Jensen is a neuroscience senior from The Woodlands. He is a senior columnist. Follow him on Twitter @michaeltangible