WAGNER: Republicans should resist temptations to go too far

January 14, 2017

For those of you who made—and haven’t yet broken—resolutions to be healthier or eat better this year, I want you to envision a huge piece of chocolate cake.

It’s just sitting there in the middle of the kitchen table with its glistening icing. There’s a fork right next to it, maybe even a glass of milk. No one is around. What’s the harm in just a little taste, right? You can get back to that no-sugar diet tomorrow.

The next thing you know, there’s just a plate with a few crumbs on it.

I imagine this is what it feels like to be a Republican at the Indiana Statehouse right now, except the diet is good government and the cake shares its plate with a pile of polarizing issues that have divided our state in the past.

The temptation must be overwhelming.

After November’s landslide, Republicans control both legislative chambers and every statewide elected office. And in the run-up to the legislative session, we’ve already heard rumblings from lawmakers who want to dismantle gun licensing, limit women’s health care, and engage in a debate about Sharia Law.

You’d think that shoring up the state budget, fixing our roads and making sure our kids have access to quality educational opportunities would be time-consuming enough.

But just in case it isn’t, my friends, here’s a desperate, motherly plea as these next few months unfold: Leave the damn cake alone.

I know it’s probably too much to ask you to update our nondiscrimination law to protect everyone, but let’s not go backward or pass anything that would harm LGBT Hoosiers.

And I understand that it can be difficult, especially for some of you gentlemen legislators, to resist writing laws about lady parts, but I have faith that you can do it.

And while it might seem in theory like a good idea to make it even easier to obtain and carry firearms wherever you please without a lot of pesky government oversight, take a look at the map of guns from Indiana flooding into places like Chicago, where the murder rate has spiked and innocent kids are being shot in the streets. I don’t imagine you’re going to make our gun laws any stricter, but if you have to meet certain requirements to get a driver’s license, it’s not unreasonable to apply a similar standard to firearms.

Now, I know these are just words, and I can’t actually take away your fork or place delectable desserts under lock and key. Unlike my cake scenario, however, there are people around. Democrats are in the minority, but they can still make a ruckus. And then there are the Hoosiers who are actually affected by what happens at the Statehouse; recent history has shown us they will show up if you tinker with things they believe you shouldn’t. (This just happened at the federal level when Republicans tried to covertly dismantle an independent congressional ethics oversight office and had to reverse course following fierce public outcry.)

Look, diets are no fun, and good government can be similarly dull. I also know it’s actually harder to run things when you control everything because there are no checks and balances, so all the power struggles are internal. But I believe in your ability to stay the course and focus on things that will help Hoosiers and our state. So pretty please, with no sugar on top, in my sweetest mom voice, just leave the damn cake alone.•

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