Riley Parr: Republicans should focus on home while in minority

Riley ParrA little over one month into what is hopefully President Biden’s 48-month term, Republicans in D.C. have once again experienced life in the minority. As long as Joe Manchin continues to believe in the value of the filibuster, it’s unlikely that progressive policies of any consequence will make their way to the Resolute Desk for President Biden’s signature—though, of course, Congress need not approve the administration’s decision to remove Dr. Seuss’ works from the “Read Across America” list. It’s only a matter of time before “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” is excised from television and the various streaming services.

But Republicans need not wait until the midterm elections, and in reality probably longer, to champion and enact policies that improve the lives of the voters that elected them. In 23 states, Republicans control the executive branch and Legislature. In three others—Kansas, Kentucky and Louisiana—Republicans overwhelmingly control the Legislature, and with even marginally competent Republican gubernatorial candidates, should retake the governor’s mansions.

In other words, Republicans have plenty of opportunities right now to demonstrate that federalism, good government, fiscal discipline and innovative policies that provide a ladder to greater prosperity are the rule rather than the exception in the Republican Party.

And why should we not turn our focus to the laboratories of democracy? For the party that (sometimes, relatively speaking) champions devolving power from the federal government, it seems like a logical fit: Republicans should not waste breath arguing over the top marginal tax rate—that effectively will make little difference, anyway, and especially so with the current administration—when we can instead turn our efforts to addressing some critical issues that folks come into contact with on a daily basis.

Moreover, the states are much better positioned to meaningfully and tangibly improve the lives of those who choose to call that state home. To be sure, a strong national defense enables much of what we do in our day-to-day lives, but there’s also little risk that the military will cease to protect us.

On the other hand, one of the downsides of Indiana’s prolonged prosperity is the short-term nature of people’s memories. At some point, voters may take for granted many of the achievements over the last 15 years that revolutionized Indiana’s economy and its ability to attract quality jobs that provide an ever-improving standard of living.

If you don’t believe me, just look at Indianapolis. For the last year, the city has been a ghost town, ravaged by COVID and riots, and without any semblance of leadership. As with such challenges, though, the mirror image presents opportunities. On the political front, the GOP has, and continues to be, wrong to write off the chance to win urban centers. Indianapolis is a perfect example.

Not long ago, Indianapolis was the largest city to be governed by a Republican mayor, and much of its successes can be traced to such icons as Lugar, Hudnut and Goldsmith. Undoubtedly, some of the GOP’s challenges in urban areas reflect much of the same broader political shifts, but nobody has yet made a convincing argument that the thousands of people who moved back to downtown over the last decade want lawlessness (not even Minneapolis wants that), pothole-filled streets and a lack of vision and leadership.

As we, I hope, begin to see light at the end of the coronavirus tunnel, what this means for Republicans—and voters—now is that they should look closer to home for actual problems to solve, rather than spend valuable energy arguing over the latest faux beltway crisis.•


Parr is a practicing attorney in central Indiana. Send comments to

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One thought on “Riley Parr: Republicans should focus on home while in minority

  1. “For the last year, the city has been a ghost town, ravaged by COVID and riots, and without any semblance of leadership.”

    Just really tired of seeing this obviously exaggerated, suburban right wing myth. Obviously there are fewer 9-5 workers downtown, but areas like Mass Ave have consistently had a normal amount of people out and about every day since the pandemic started. Even on the two nights of riots that happened almost a year ago that people like to pretend turned downtown Indy into an abandoned hellscape scattered with homeless antifa.

    Every time I see someone talking about downtown being ruined or abandoned, it’s clear that they’re people who were always rooting for downtown to lose, for their own political purposes and biases.