What Would Mother Say?

10 mins read
Karen and Mike Pence

It has been said that the only person that Vice President Mike Pence really listens to is his wife, Karen. Now might be the most important time for him to do that. 

Karen Pence, who VP Pence commonly refers to as “Mother,” has long been a vocal advocate for mental health treatment. Her advocacy dates back to her time as first lady in Indiana, when she championed art therapy and served on the board of an organization providing mental health treatment to sick children. 

When she arrived in D.C. she announced that her official “cause“ would be to promote art therapy (which has not come without its own controversy). She has traveled to art therapy sites around the world, building good PR and the Pence image, and she even used part of her speech at 2020’s RNC to focus on the need for art therapy to treat those suffering from PTSD. Addressing members of the military service through the NEA-funded Creative Forces treatment program, she said: “I just want you to know it takes just as much courage for you to do what you do in uniform as it does to for you to reach out and participate in this program.” Through her work, Karen Pence has tried to reduce the stigma of mental health treatment.

And right now, the president of the United States appears to be experiencing an acute mental health crisis and rapidly — in the words of psychology — decompensating. With the results of the November 3 election officially certified and only days left before the inauguration of Joe Biden, Trump has run out of options. While mental health professionals have long spoken out about the potentially dangerous, erratic, and delusional mental state of Donald Trump, the most critical moment is now upon us as he desperately tries to find ways to hold on to power and escape punishment rather than face the reality of his defeat. 

Within hours of the attempted coup and breach of the Capitol building incited by the president, many public figures were calling for Trump’s immediate removal, citing concern for his mental health. The World Mental Health Coalition, headed by psychiatrist Dr. Bandy Lee, submitted a statement to Vice President Mike Pence and Congress proclaiming an urgent need to invoke the 25th Amendment immediately for “the involuntary admission” of Trump, whom they say “needs to be evaluated for the least restrictive means of containment.”

As we all know by now, on January 6, before the joint session of Congress to certify the election results, Pence told Trump he did not have the power to discard electoral votes; he later released a public statement. After hearing from Pence, Trump went to his “Save America” rally and addressed his supporters, many of whom had traveled from all over the country to attend the new “Civil War” or “1776.” In a rambling, incendiary speech, Trump called out his vice president specifically: “Mike Pence, I hope you’re going to stand up for the good of our Constitution and for the good of our country. And if you’re not, I’m going to be very disappointed in you.”

Trump concluded his 70-minute speech with these words: 

“So we’re going to, we’re going to walk down Pennsylvania Avenue, I love Pennsylvania Avenue, and we’re going to the Capitol and we’re going to try and give, the Democrats are hopeless. They’re never voting for anything, not even one vote. But we’re going to try and give our Republicans, the weak ones, because the strong ones don’t need any of our help, we’re going to try and give them the kind of pride and boldness that they need to take back our country.”

Minutes later, Trump’s large mob of supporters descended upon the Capitol building. They easily broke through makeshift barriers and loosely guarded entrances in their attempt to “stop the steal” by whatever means necessary. Multiple reports from the ground state that the vice president was the ultimate target of the crowd’s ire. They believed his unwillingness to acquiesce to Trump’s demands amounted to treason and needed to be punished immediately; some even called for his execution. 

But once the Capitol was breached, Secret Service whisked Pence away to a secure location.  

Donald Trump, as the commander In chief of the most powerful military in the world and the only one with access to the nuclear codes, is a clear and present danger to both himself and the world. 

It is not hyperbole to say that the safety of the entire world for the next 10 days may rest solely on Mike Pence’s shoulders. As the vice president, he has the power to invoke the 25th Amendment at any moment. Yet so far, Pence has not indicated that he will act to protect the American people, nor will he respond to the needs of a man in a serious mental health crisis.

So if Vice President Pence refuses to remove Donald Trump through the 25th Amendment, does that mean he is negating all the years of hard work his wife has put into her passionate advocacy for mental health treatment? Negating her belief in the importance of helping others — both Trump and Americans? Is Pence ignoring the need to evaluate a man in serious crisis with potential psychosis and delusions of grandeur . . . who just happens to be the current commander in chief?

Many have speculated that Vice President Pence has his eye on a 2024 bid for the presidency, and there has been an active effort in the past year to shape Karen Pence’s image and increase her public profile. Frankly, if promoting art therapy has been the central focus of the second lady’s political career, it’s not really a good look for Karen’s mental health advocacy if her husband turns a blind eye to the deranged psychosis of the current president of the United States. Pence is the only person who could truly put the 25th into place. If he refuses to employ a “duty to warn” when someone is a clear and present danger to himself and others, then all of “Mother’s” advocacy work is a total fraud — right? 

The irony . . . or rather the hypocrisy runs deep here. 

How could anyone take Karen Pence seriously as an advocate for mental health if her husband is the only person who could actually intervene and get Trump the help he needs . . . yet he chooses to stand by and do nothing?

If someone is actively suicidal you would take away their access to guns, pills, knives, even their shoelaces. 

Vice President Pence, we are calling on you to intervene and take away his access to the codes.

We are experiencing some very dark days in America right now. Blood has already been shed at the hands of the Trump Insurrectionists. We need to stop the bleeding. STAT. 

There is only one man who can stop the bleeding. 

Mother, can you talk to him for us?

Photo courtesy of the White House from Washington, DC, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

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Jessica Masino Drass is a Senior Lecturer at the University of the Arts (Philadelphia) in the Art & Design Education and Art Therapy Departments. She is an art psychotherapist, an arts-based researcher, author, and a former NJ high school art teacher. She is trained in Dialectical Behavior Therapy, and her clinical work focuses on treating trauma and dissociation in chronically suicidal individuals. As a research fellow at Drexel University Jessica was involved in the coordination, facilitation, data analysis, writing, and publication of multiple government-funded research studies (https://www.creativeforcesnrc.arts.gov/resources/results?id=123). She was lead author (https://www.creativeforcesnrc.arts.gov/resources/results?id=122) and project manager for a number of concurrent research studies and programs across a variety of sites and systems, such as the National Endowment for the Arts, Department of Defense (through NICoE at the Walter Reed Medical Center), and the University of Pennsylvania Hospital System.

1 Comment

  1. Excellent points and a dare to someone who SHOULD take heed. A couple of days ago, I suggested going thru Mother but for different reasons. Maybe she’s protective of her husband being thrown under the bus and in fact, endangered by a man who’s shown he can’t even spell loyalty. Maybe she doesn’t want her husband any more maligned or impugned than he has been. No matter the reason she might listen to us, we should try…..

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