The Cost of Mike Pence’s Anthem Stunt is Bad, but Don’t Let That Distract From the Bigger Issue

While I’m sure Donald Trump and Mike Pence’s National Anthem stunt will almost certainly be forgotten in a few days, I think that’s a huge mistake.

For starters, let’s not ignore the fact that this was a planned spectacle. I don’t care if Trump and Pence say the vice president had planned for weeks to go to the game, I’m not buying that. Why would Pence fly to Las Vegas for an event on Saturday, then to Indianapolis that same day, only to fly back all the way to the west coast to Los Angeles for a political event — on Sunday. Pence is also claiming that he would have flown back to Washington after his trip to Las Vegas had he not gone to the Colts game.


So Pence is trying to make people believe that he was going to fly all the way out to Las Vegas on Saturday, then fly all the way back across the country to Washington that same day, only to fly all the way back to Los Angeles on Sunday?

That’s next-level stupid and anyone who actually believes that should be ashamed of themselves for being that gullible.

To prove that Pence never intended to actually stay to watch the Colts and 49ers play, look no further than the fact that reporters who follow him were told to stay in the van outside the stadium because “there may be an early departure from the game.” Furthermore, Pence quickly released a statement that was obviously prepared beforehand, while Trump rushed to Twitter to take credit for the walkout almost immediately after it happened. And I’m sure it was “pure coincidence” that Pence was photographed in the stadium standing next to a member of the military during the anthem.

This. Was. A. Propaganda. Stunt. Straight. From. A. Dictator’s. Playbook.

While most of the attention has been focused on how expensive this stunt was (more on that in just a minute), most people seem to be ignoring the fact that this was a blatant attempt by Trump and Pence to divide people. Just as the whole “kneeling controversy” was dying down, with most players returning to the normal routine during the National Anthem and only a handful continuing to kneel, Trump and Pence made sure to reignite that flame of division and anger.

With or without Pence in attendance, there were going to be at least a few players who’d take a knee during the National Anthem. Trump and Pence knew this. So this wasn’t Pence going into the game not knowing the eventual outcome. Long before Air Force 2 departed for Indianapolis the “president” and vice president knew at least a few players were going to kneel, especially with Pence being at the game — which was the entire point.

You want to talk about disrespecting the flag? This was Trump and Pence using the National Anthem and our flag as political tools to divide Americans against each other for no other reason than to stir up anger, resentment, and hate.

I can’t help but wonder if Pence was equally as offended by all the thousands of people in the stadium who were undoubtedly getting food, beer, texting, going to the bathroom, or doing anything but standing silently while the National Anthem was playing. Maybe I missed it, but I didn’t see Trump or Pence tweeting about any of those people “disrespecting the flag.”

It doesn’t matter if you’re a Democrat, Republican, or whatever you want to call yourself, every single American should be outraged by any president who stages a ridiculous political stunt for no other reason than to blatantly divide people. Because that’s all this was! The money wasted on this propaganda is offensive in and of itself (I promise, I’m just about to get to that), but the fact that this was meant to further divide an already extremely polarized nation is absolutely shameful.

Now let’s talk about the cost.

Estimates are that the travel alone cost taxpayers roughly $242,500. While some of that’s going to be reimbursed by the RNC since he’s attending a political event in California, that’s still a lot of wasted taxpayer money on a divisive political stunt. And that $242,500 figure is just travel. That doesn’t include the cost of security and other factors associated with Pence attending an NFL game. So I don’t think it’s unreasonable to assume that, even with the RNC paying for some of the travel expenses, this spectacle likely cost American taxpayers around a quarter of a million dollars.

All so Mike Pence could make an ass out of himself and walk out of an NFL game!

This is on top of the other scandals surrounding travel expenses tied to the Trump administration. One of which just recently led to Tom Price “resigning” after it was discovered he had charged taxpayers nearly half a million dollars for travel on private planes.

Think about that for a moment.

Tom Price was forced out of his position as Secretary of Health and Human Services for charging taxpayers somewhere between $400-500k on travel expenses over the last several months  — yet Pence’s staged walkout cost taxpayers around half that amount of money on one trip.

Granted there’s a huge difference between the vice president and the health and human services secretary, but wasted taxpayer money is wasted taxpayer money. This was Donald Trump and Mike Pence spending nearly half of the amount of money Price was fired for charging taxpayers on one trip that served no other purpose than to divide Americans.

We also shouldn’t ignore the fact that Trump’s already on pace to cost taxpayers more on personal travel expenses during his first year in office than we spent on Barack Obama during his entire eight years as president.

But, please, tell me more about how Republicans are the party for “fiscal responsibility.”

Without a doubt, the money spent on this childish foolishness should definitely be an issue. However, in my opinion, the fact that this was a current “president” doing this for no other purpose than to stir up division, anger, hate, and resentment among Americans is the bigger story here.

To put that in another way, the current “President” of the United States and vice president staged a disgusting stunt that cost taxpayers around a quarter of a million dollars just so they could push hate, anger, and divide and already divided country even more. All while refusing to admit that there are important reasons why these players have chosen to take a knee in the first place.

Feel free to follow me on Twitter and Facebook to let me know what you think.

Allen Clifton

Allen Clifton is a native Texan who now lives in the Austin area. He has a degree in Political Science from Sam Houston State University. Allen is a co-founder of Forward Progressives and creator of the popular Right Off A Cliff column and Facebook page. Be sure to follow Allen on Twitter and Facebook, and subscribe to his channel on YouTube as well.


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