In a move that is not very surprising from an administration that has consistently demonstrated its contempt for environmental concerns, Vice President Mike Pence brought an eight-vehicle motorcade with him while attending the Republican Leadership Conference over the weekend in Mackinac Island, Michigan.
While many readers may now be scratching their heads wondering why such an action rises to the level of a condemnable offense when large motorcades are such a standard feature of the privileges normally afforded to our nation’s political elite, it may help to know that the island —which is home to about 500 people — has banned vehicles since the late 19th century except in extremely limited circumstances where the motorized vehicles are allowed only by special permit on an individual’s private property and for emergency purposes.
Hence, the police escort on bicycles.
As reported in The Detroit Free Press, Pence arrived at the Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island via his unprecedented motorcade and faced cries of “sacrilege” from local residents on social media in response.
The last senior U.S. official to visit the island was President Gerald Ford, who traveled to Mackinac Island in 1975 and was transported with his First Lady Betty Ford around the island in a horse-drawn carriage.
According to the newspaper:
“Pence, who spoke at the Mackinac Republican Leadership Conference, is the first sitting vice president to visit the island. He traveled to and from the airport with a cluster of monster SUVs shipped to the island Friday night. It was the first-ever motorcade on Mackinac.”
Some long-time Michiganders, including Detriot native Ron Fournier, the former Washington bureau chief for The Associated Press, found the break with tradition “obscene.”
“It’s both the existence and size,” said Fournier, now president of the Michigan public relations firm Truscott Rossman. “No security expert would claim it’s necessary.”
— Ron Fournier (@ron_fournier) September 21, 2019
Fournier’s views were echoed by many others on social media with calls of “snowflake” being bandied about, along with the frequent suggestion that if Pence couldn’t make do without a motorcade, then he should have simply canceled his visit.
— Mark Brewer (@MarkBrewerDems) September 21, 2019
For those not from MI, you should understand what a huge transgression this is.
Our #MackinacIsland has been a car free haven forever, a piece of history frozen in time. Tell anyone from MI @VP just drove not 1 but 8 CARS on this island & watch their blood boil. #PureMichigan https://t.co/cjfXcygdzOSee Also
— Julia Pulver, RN (@VotePulver) September 22, 2019
Even progressive Michigan Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) weighed in.
Disgusting. I am in such disbelief that this was allowed to happen. This Administration doesn't care about the law (you know, the U.S. Constitution), so it shouldn't surprise me so much that they don't care about our history or traditions. #MackinacIsland https://t.co/jvyMBCakrG
— Rashida Tlaib (@RashidaTlaib) September 22, 2019
Yes, Pence’s transgression is a minor one compared to the multiple regulatory rollbacks of environmental rules during the Trump administration to date, but it is so indicative of the sense of privilege and the disdain that permeates this regime both for the threatened planetary climate and for the rule of law, that it cannot be ignored, particularly by irate Michigander traditionalists.
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Vinnie Longobardo is a 35-year veteran of the TV, mobile & internet industries, specializing in start-ups and the international media business. His passions are politics, music and art.