Indiana has not kept up with the times, but that’s not the fault of the fellow Hoosiers.
Most people in our state want the same thing: a safe place to live and raise a family, a solid job with good pay and benefits, quality schools for their children, and me. Freedom to live our lives, peace of mind in retirement. dignity. Sadly, our state government limits our quality of life and potential for our children, families, workers, and businesses.
Take a look at our grades and how we rank with other states across the nation. According to CNBC, Indiana has an F-rated quality of life, a D-rated workforce, and a C-rated education system. The state’s maternal mortality rate is her third worst in the country and its waterways are the most polluted in the country.
When traveling through our state, I can ask you to raise your hand to see who is sick of Indiana being at the bottom of the barrel in nearly every aspect of our lives. It often happens. All hands are always on the ceiling.
Again, this isn’t about the Hoosiers. Unfortunately, Indiana’s lackluster performance is about politics and he’s one major party in charge. 2024 marks 20 years since Mitch Daniels defeated our state’s last Democratic governor, Joe Kernan. Since then, Republican state governments have put their own interests ahead of theirs.
Its power is bolstered by the structural superiority created by the Indiana Republican Party. They drew their own legislative districts and raised a few bushels of campaign money to defend issues outside the mainstream. While most Hoosiers favor a more balanced state and federal representation, or at least a competition, Indiana Republicans chose voters instead of vice versa. And state Republicans rely on outside groups like Americans for Prosperity, founded by the Koch brothers, for campaign funding to keep their public office.
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Only one party has full control, so you’ll have to work with some bad apples. Extremism creeps in. Weird and ridiculous policy ideas can become law as well as listen. Common sense consensus and bipartisan deals go out the door. Big business has found this imbalance unsustainable for a healthy Hoosier economy.
We hear all the time about how well the state is doing financially. And Republicans are touting the “balanced budget” mandated by the state constitution as a success. Despite these factors, many Hoosiers struggle to make a living and many young Hoosiers are leaving Indiana in search of better opportunities. It can only exist for a very long time until it is no longer there.
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The 2024 election will see several marquee races take place in Indiana. Senator Mike Brown and Lt. Gov. Suzanne Crouch have already announced their candidacy for governor, even featuring Indiana’s abysmal rankings in their claims.
For that we have to ask: where have they been in the last few years?
The Hoosiers deserve a candid discussion of the last two decades. We know the Republican track record, and while it’s fine for some people, it doesn’t work for the majority of Hoosiers.
Here’s what Indiana looks like if a Democrat wins the presidency. Universal Pre-K; provide quality education to all students and teachers get more rewards; End the state brain drain. Businesses of all sizes attract and retain young workers and their families to Indiana. Women make their own health care decisions. Invest financially in more renewable and clean energy, end the culture wars, and put more money in your pocket.
This is possible if more people vote Democrats in the coming cycles. We are not the caricatures of national politicians you see on cable news or online. We are the Hoosier Democrats. We care deeply about Indiana and want it to be in the top 10 or top 5 of any major national ranking. Hoosiers should never settle for being behind the pack.
Mike Schmule is the chairman of the Indiana Democratic Party.