How ironic is it that both conservative and moderate republicans who have spent their lifetimes marching to the tune of small government and individual liberty, have so quickly put special interests ahead of the interests of Hoosier voters.
Recently, I suggested that republicans, under the influence of the tea party movement, have abandoned the interests of Mitt Romney’s “47 percent” in favor of a strategy designed to pursue their own agendas. Clearly, the well-being of Romney’s “47 percent” no longer matters to those in office; men and women who were elected to represent the interests of all Americans, or in this case, all Hoosiers, not just a select few.
Governor Pence’s overt efforts to undermine the role of Indiana’s elected Superintendent of Public Instruction just because she would not kowtow to his policy initiatives is but one example. Whether through administrative polices, the formation of the Center for Education and Career Innovation (CECI), Indiana House Bill 1638, or other miscellaneous shenanigans the Governor and his supporters have waged war against public education, public schools, public school teachers, not to mention public school families, children and their communities.
When he finally dissolved the CECI, ostensibly to eliminate “the friction at the highest levels of government” and “fix what is broken in education in Indiana” the Governor expressed pride in the accomplishment of the CECI. That the most notable accomplishments of the CECI were the creation of “friction at the highest levels of government” and aggravation of “what is broken in education in Indiana” is the apex of irony.
Make no mistake, there are many problems with public education here in Indiana and in states throughout the nation but these are the very things the Superintendent of Public Education, the DOE, and Hoosier educators were working hard to address. Those efforts were sabotaged by the Governor in order to pave way for solutions that were conceived while being shielded from public scrutiny.
The whole principle of accountability of elected officials such as the Superintendent of Public Instruction, and also the Governor, is that the voters have the power to boot them out of office if their performance is unacceptable. The actions of the Governor have been dedicated to the process of removing the responsibility for accountability of selected elected officials from the hands of the voters and place it in the hands of policy-makers whom he has appointed and who are not held accountable by the voters.
A generation ago it would have been considered inconceivable that such actions would be the strategy of choice of conservative republicans.
Unfortunately, the power of Indiana’s current and recent Governors has also been directed at Indiana unions and their memberships through the ironically entitled ”right to work legislation”; and, more recently against the Common Construction Wage Law that guarantees that Hoosier workers in the various construction trades will be paid wages that enable them to provide for their families and pay their fair share of taxes.
Now, the republican leadership in Indiana has turned its attention to passing “religious freedom legislation” that has brought ridicule to our state and that places certain members of our diverse citizenry at risk of discrimination. Should not every citizen be entitled to protection both when they “have been substantially” subjected to discriminatory acts or consider themselves “likely to be substantially” subjected?
In response to public outcry, our governor and state legislators scrambled, this past week, to pass a fix that would placate the opposition. Let the reader understand that this fix does not alter the underlying motivation of Governor Pence and others and it was only passed because republicans were “caught with their hands in the cookie jar.”
Where will it end? Unless the voters of the State of Indiana rise up and hold their elected officials accountable for their self-serving legislation and policy making the ominous chasm that exists between the rich and poor, the fortunate and the unfortunate, and between white citizens and their minority counterparts can only expand.
The saddest truth about this widening trend toward the disenfranchisement of so many of our citizens is that the people who are adversely affected by these actions could boot our elected officials out of office if only they would band together and exercise their right to vote.
Hoosiers are like all other Americans and must be challenged to recognize that the solutions to the problems of 21st Century America cannot be realized through the application of 20th Century thinking, whether conservative or liberal. These new and more complicated social challenges will demand new patterns of thought, fresh insights into the dynamics of 21st Century American society, and a new commitment to American imagination and ingenuity. What we require is exponential thinking of the highest order.