The Slatest

Pence Likens Trump and His Offer to End Shutdown to Martin Luther King

Vice President Mike Pence speaks at the Trump International Hotel on January 17, 2019 in Washington, D.C.
Vice President Mike Pence speaks at the Trump International Hotel on January 17, 2019 in Washington, D.C.
Paul Morigi/Getty Images

On the eve of Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Vice President Mike Pence compared President Donald Trump to the civil rights icon. Just like Dr. King, Trump is inspiring the nation to change through the legislative process, argued Pence.

Pence made the eyebrow-raising statement during an interview with CBS News on Sunday. At one point in the interview, host Margaret Brennan asked the vice-president why Democrats weren’t included in the process to come up with the proposal that Trump put forward Saturday to end the longest government shutdown in history. After spouting his talking points, Pence quoted the civil rights leader. “One of my favorite quotes from Dr. King was, ‘Now is the time to make real the promises of democracy.’ You think of how he changed America,” the vice president said. “He inspired us to change through the legislative process to become a more perfect union. That’s exactly what President Trump is calling on the Congress to do. Come to the table in a spirit of good faith.”

Pence’s quote comes from Dr. King’s “I Have a Dream” speech, and the words he chose to mention refer to a point when the civil rights leader warned against “gradualism.” In the speech he said:

It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note insofar as her citizens of color are concerned. Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given the Negro people a bad check, a check which has come back marked “insufficient funds.” But we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt. We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity of this nation. So we have come to cash this check — a check that will give us upon demand the riches of freedom and the security of justice. We have also come to this hallowed spot to remind America of the fierce urgency of now. This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism. Now is the time to make real the promises of democracy. Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice. Now is the time to lift our nation from the quick sands of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood. Now is the time to make justice a reality for all of God’s children.