Opinion | Why a traditional Republican like Pence is appealing to independents

Garrett Marchand, Contributing Columnist

Garrett Marchand is a member of UA Young Americans for Freedom.


On April 11, Mike Pence will be coming to The University of Alabama.

As a guest of The University of Alabama chapter of Young Americans for Freedom, Mike Pence’s arrival at the University comes on the heels of the controversial Matt Walsh visit last semester and the increasingly heated political divide on college campuses.

While Walsh and Pence come from the conservative side of American politics, their public images and appeal greatly vary.

Walsh has made himself known in recent years, especially among young Americans, for his fierce and targeted opposition to transgender identities in the United States. His tours of college campuses have been a part of an attempt to get young Americans involved in his fight against what he describes as “radical transgender ideology.” 

Because of his targeted opposition to transgender identities, Walsh’s appearance last semester stirred much controversy among students on campus. Some argued that Walsh should not have been permitted to speak at the University. 

The upcoming visit by Mike Pence has the opportunity to appeal to a larger audience than Walsh.

Despite serving as vice president to the former and very controversial president, Donald Trump, Pence has managed to distance himself from the former president and has come to be known for his actions on Jan. 6, 2021, in certifying the presidential election results despite Trump’s demands to do otherwise. Pence is also likely to testify to the jury hearing the Jan. 6th case. 

As a possible contender for the Republican nomination for the 2024 presidential election, Pence will likely attempt to set himself up as an authentic conservative voice that can exist without being purposely controversial. This sentiment was echoed by Pence himself, who once described himself as “Rush Limbaugh on Decaf.”

This is not to say, of course, that Pence is not right-wing. Pence once said he is “A Christian, a conservative, and a Republican, in that order.” Therefore, he will likely attempt to offer students a socially conservative view of the world when he comes to campus on April 11.

Despite being socially conservative, Pence’s public image as a traditional Republican who takes a less combative approach than people like Walsh or Trump could lend an olive branch to those who typically oppose social conservatism because the messenger seems to seek controversy. 

His speech, titled “Saving America from the Woke Left,” aligns Pence firmly with the socially conservative values of the Republican party.

The term “woke,” however, is far broader than Walsh’s targeted focus on one subject: transgender identities.

Whether the former Vice President will arrive to protests at the University is yet to be seen. However, there are calls for organized protests as there were when Walsh came, as shown by the UA Leftist Collective Instagram Page

Amid these calls for protest, it is important to emphasize that college campuses, much like America itself, are built on the exchange of opposing ideas. Regardless of any disagreement between right and left-wing students, we must act respectfully toward one another. It is critical to behave respectfully to facilitate the exchange of ideas effectively. 

This country has always had disagreements on political issues, moral rights and wrongs. Disagreement is why the exchange of ideas is so vital. Two opposing sides must and can work out their differences and try to convince the other of their beliefs or reach some common ground. However, we should never seek to divide for division alone.

Pence is not an outcast fringe for being socially conservative, and we must acknowledge that his views speak for many Americans nationwide.

At first glance, Pence should be a more appealing figure to independents and moderates whom Trump turns off. While he may not appeal to ardently left-wing students, Pence can appeal to independents who will be more open to hearing him over more controversial figures like Matt Walsh.