IBJOpinion

JONES: Hoosiers still processing change with wary eye

Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share

DEBATE QAre Hoosiers becoming more politically conservative or liberal?

 

Jones
AA casual glimpse of recent developments in Indiana politics might suggest Hoosiers are in the throes of an identity crisis. As a traditional dead-red state, Indiana produced few surprises. Republicans, for the most part, rule the roost, even with the occasional presence of Democratic governors or slight majority of Dems in the state’s House of Representatives.

So what are we to make of Obama’s 2008 victory in the presidential race in Indiana? Or Joe Donnelly’s capture of what should have been a safe Republican U.S. Senate seat in 2012? Or, perhaps more startling, the failure of social conservatives to obtain their coveted constitutional ban on same-sex marriage this year because of the drift in attitudes among once-reliable supporters in the Legislature?

Early in my career, a wise political mentor taught me about cycles and pendulums, and how the electorate balanced itself periodically by making adjustments at the ballot box. He said the only sure thing in politics was that the pendulum would continue to swing, and when things go badly, corrections would likely arrive with the next election.

While more pronounced on the national level, similar cycles occur in Indiana. The pendulum swings, but not far.

The shocking Obama victory in Indiana in 2008—the first time since 1964 that a Democrat had carried the state in a presidential race—is understandable if viewed in the proper light. Ditto for Donnelly’s unexpected Senate win. Even the failure of the marriage amendment reflects Hoosiers being Hoosiers rather than an impending change in attitude or ideology.

The presidential election of 2008 occurred during an economic meltdown the likes of which America had not experienced since the Great Depression. The Republican Party was largely blamed for that recession. Even traditional red states found themselves tilting—temporarily—toward the Democrats. Being a neighbor of Obama’s home state of Illinois undoubtedly contributed to Indiana’s narrow entry into the winner’s column.

In 2012, Indiana voters also re-established their independence from the red-state tag by electing Donnelly. Hoosiers almost always favor Republicans in these races, but will draw the line if they view a candidate as too extreme.

Such was the case with GOP nominee Richard Mourdock, who defeated six-term incumbent Sen. Richard Lugar in a Tea Party-fueled primary. The more moderate base of the Indiana Republican Party teamed with Democrats to opt for Donnelly, who by no stretch can be called a liberal.

Social conservatives have influence, but they don’t control the Republican Party. That was never more true than in the debate over the same-sex marriage ban amendment. The proposed amendment was changed, thereby delaying its path to implementation, because some conservative Republicans rebelled at the original language.

Society’s views toward same-sex relationships have changed. Republicans are part of this evolution in attitude.

Are Hoosiers becoming more conservative or liberal? Neither. Hoosiers are marching in place, reacting to events and trends with a wary eye, but willing to bend in the wind when the time is right.•

__________

Jones is editor of the Tribune-Star in Terre Haute and president of the Indiana Debate Commission. Send comments to ibjedit@ibj.com.

ADVERTISEMENT

Post a comment to this story

COMMENTS POLICY
We reserve the right to remove any post that we feel is obscene, profane, vulgar, racist, sexually explicit, abusive, or hateful.
 
You are legally responsible for what you post and your anonymity is not guaranteed.
 
Posts that insult, defame, threaten, harass or abuse other readers or people mentioned in IBJ editorial content are also subject to removal. Please respect the privacy of individuals and refrain from posting personal information.
 
No solicitations, spamming or advertisements are allowed. Readers may post links to other informational websites that are relevant to the topic at hand, but please do not link to objectionable material.
 
We may remove messages that are unrelated to the topic, encourage illegal activity, use all capital letters or are unreadable.
 

Messages that are flagged by readers as objectionable will be reviewed and may or may not be removed. Please do not flag a post simply because you disagree with it.

Sponsored by
ADVERTISEMENT

facebook - twitter on Facebook & Twitter

Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ on Facebook:
Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ's Tweets on these topics:
 
Subscribe to IBJ
  1. If what you stated is true, then this article is entirely inaccurate. "State sells bonds" is same as "State borrows money". Supposedly the company will "pay for them". But since we are paying the company, we are still paying for this road with borrowed money, even though the state has $2 billion in the bank.

  2. Andrew hit the nail on the head. AMTRAK provides terrible service and that is why the state has found a contractor to improve the service. More trips, on-time performance, better times, cleanliness and adequate or better restrooms. WI-FI and food service will also be provided. Transit from outlying areas will also be provided. I wouldn't take it the way it is but with the above services and marketing of the service,ridership will improve and more folks will explore Indy and may even want to move here.

  3. They could take the property using eminent domain and save money by not paying the church or building a soccer field and a new driveway. Ctrwd has monthly meetings open to all customers of the district. The meetings are listed and if the customers really cared that much they would show. Ctrwd works hard in every way they can to make sure the customer is put first. Overflows damage the surrounding environment and cost a lot of money every year. There have been many upgrades done through the years to help not send flow to Carmel. Even with the upgrades ctrwd cannot always keep up. I understand how a storage tank could be an eye sore, but has anyone thought to look at other lift stations or storage tanks. Most lift stations are right in the middle of neighborhoods. Some close to schools and soccer fields, and some right in back yards, or at least next to a back yard. We all have to work together to come up with a proper solution. The proposed solution by ctrwd is the best one offered so far.

  4. Fox has comments from several people that seem to have some inside information. I would refer to their website. Changed my whole opionion of this story.

  5. This place is great! I'm piggy backing and saying the Cobb salad is great. But the ribs are awesome. $6.49 for ribs and 2 sides?! They're delicious. If you work downtown, head over there.

ADVERTISEMENT