Pence for your thoughts: A Libertarian-Republican’s open letter about Indiana’s new law

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Photo by Gen Con

By Nathan Lichtman

I remember the first time I heard Mike Pence speak. It was at CPAC (Conservative Political Action Conference) a few years ago. I thought, “Wow, what charisma.” Even though I knew he was deeply a Christian man and an icon in the religious right, I really enjoyed his presence.

I thought to myself that if someone with his speaking ability could run for President, he couldn’t lose. The way he paints a picture, weaving story into an otherwise lame academic talk. It’s great oratory.

I later welcomed him to speak at my college, escorting him into the room, as he was a Congressman ready to seek higher office. He spoke eloquently then too. He would seek that higher office, and win, to become Indiana’s Governor.

But he’s gone off the religious right deep end. Today, he signed the much-debated ‘Religious Freedom Restoration Act’ into Indiana law.

The idea behind the law is that government should not force you to do business with people you don’t approve of religiously. If you’re against sodomy, you should have a right not to bake a cake for a gay wedding, for example.

Now I draw a line here—you should have a right not to bake for anyone you don’t want to. In fact you do have that right. But, as long as you codify it into a special law, you are planting a discriminatory reason for it. I can decide not to bake a cake for someone I don’t like, and its not discriminatory. It just means I don’t like that person. But if I decide not to bake cakes for an entire class of people, it is discrimination.

That is what this law does.

Ironically, Pence said that, if he thought this law enabled discrimination, he wouldn’t sign it. Oh well.

Now I have a strong hunch that this law will see legal trials, maybe even reaching the Supreme Court. But I don’t want to get into whether he should have legally/constitutionally signed it or not. I want to get into the ramifications for him, and the nerd community (you guys thought I had forgotten I was writing this on Nerd Reactor, didn’t you?).

Firstly, this may have ended Pence’s chances at a Presidential bid. Remember when I said he couldn’t lose? Well I especially thought this was true, when I learned that the Koch Brothers really wanted him to run. They would bring a ton of money and support to his campaign.

But, he exposed himself as too much in bed with the religious right (ironic that he’d be in bed with them…). I’ve already heard some conservative leaders say he’s gotten too much public flak, and that this was a bad call. And, as I’ve said over and over, Republicans can only win if they distinguish themselves as the liberty party. They should be the ones letting you do whether you want, as long as it’s not directly hurting others. But they haven’t come off that way. They’ve come off as the party telling what they do and do not approve of, especially in the bedroom.

Pence being a nominee would only deepen that concern among millennial and liberty-minded people, that Republicans are too socially religious and demanding.

And, it does have implications for nerd world. The largest convention held annually in Indiana is Indianapolis’ Gen Con. 56,000 people attend this comic book convention, and they spend millions of dollars in the city every year. The organizers of Gen Con have already said they would find another nearby state to hold the convention in if Pence did sign this law. Well he did.

They have a contract to hold the convention there until 2020. Will they break the contract? If so, where will Gen Con be held this year? And, if not, will this religious law animosity hold strong until 2020, and will Gen Con change locations then?

Additionally, among the top four twitter trends today, guess whose hashtag made the list? Nerd icon George Takei’s. His hashtags #boycottIndiana and #Pence have blown up twitter. This proves that alienating nerd conventions and Sulu will not end well for you.

I really think this cost Mike Pence the possibility of being a real candidate for President, and it has hurt the Hoosier economy and image.

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