Since the nation’s founding there’s been a peculiar tension between the president and the vice president. This tension was first established in 1796 when John Adams became president and Thomas Jefferson the vp. The two men could not have been more different. Adams was a Northern Federalist, pro-British and morally upright, puritanically married to Abagail; Jefferson was a Southern Democratic-Republican, pro-French and worldly, intimately involved with his slave, Sally Hemings, with whom they had four surviving children who he set free.
Over the intervening two-plus centuries and nearly 50 administrations, a host of different president and vice-president tag-teams have occupied the White House. Drawing only upon some recent examples, the nation’s two top officials have reflected differences in age (e.g., Eisenhower and Nixon), geography (e.g., Kennedy and Johnson) and race (e.g., Obama and Biden). Donald Trump and Mike Pence, the tug-of-war leaders who will soon occupy the headquarters of global power for the next four years, could not appear more different.
The shot-gun alliance between Trump and Pence seeks to bridge an (apparent) ideological contradiction at the heart of the Trump movement, a contradiction that may split the movement. The contradiction is clearly differentiated – symbolized — in the sexuality represented by the two men. It involves the tension between excess and restraint. Their apparent “egos” — sexual personalities — represent two of the extremes in the history of American erotic expression, hedonism and puritanism. Both are forms of repression.