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Every personal incentive to acquiesce
Pence knew he was sacrificing his political career on January 6, 2021. What he did that day shows great personal courage.
When Donald Trump demanded that Mike Pence use his authority as Vice President to throw out contested Electoral College votes on January 6, 2021, Pence had every personal incentive to acquiesce to Trump's demands. There was no personal upside to refusing Trump's demands, and quite a bit of downside. To claim that Pence's show of courage was actually "cowardice" is absurd.
Had Pence obeyed Trump, he would have taken a step to ensure that his own position as Vice President remained intact. All of the people saying Pence "betrayed" Trump are ignoring the fact that Pence "betrayed" himself as well.
Pence considered what to do on January 6. He called former Vice President Dan Quayle for advice, and inquired about whether he actually had the legal authority to do what Trump demanded. He had every personal incentive to obey Trump, and no personal incentive not to obey Trump. Pence did decide to obey, but he decided to obey the Constitution. It was an act of heroism that should be honored, not damned.
Forget the legal and political ramifications for the country for a moment and imagine what would have happened if Pence did as Trump asked. If the gambit was successful, Pence serves four more years as Vice President and is the clear and obvious front-runner for the Republican nomination in 2024. Trump probably supports Pence, ensuring the MAGA base stays with Pence. Even if the gambit fails, Pence is not disowned by Trump, and is either likely to be Trump's vice-presidential nominee in 2024 (setting him up to be President in 2028 at 69 years old) or is in a much stronger position to wrest the nomination from Trump.
Now think about where Pence is politically because of what he did. Pence will never be President, an office he has clearly aspired to for twenty years. He is hated by a large portion of the Republican Party base. He has almost certainly lost friendships. He could have lost his life on January 6, because deranged cultists were literally screaming for him to be lynched. I honestly do not know why Pence is running for President, because he has no chance of winning the Republican nomination. Even if he decided to run for a lower office, Pence would almost certainly not be able to win a second term as governor of Indiana or return to Congress.
Our nation would be exponentially better off if we had people at all levels of government who had even a slice of Mike Pence's personal integrity. There are people of good faith who believe Pence did have the legal authority to do what Trump demanded. It is possible to believe Pence was wrong. But the personal attacks and character assassination of the former Congressman, Governor and Vice President are completely false and need to stop.