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Editorial: In this war of words, will anyone win?

Editorial Indiana Lawyer
March 30, 2011
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Indiana Lawyer Editorial

At more than 30 days and counting, at least at Indiana Lawyer deadline, we’re not sure what will cause the Democrats elected to the Indiana House of Representatives to return to their posts at the Statehouse.

There’s enough blame to go around for everyone in the legislative process, voters included, to have a share. Yes, we said voters. After all, we keep electing the majority of this cast of characters over and over again. It’s developed into an insane process, and a popular definition of insanity is when one keeps doing the same thing over and over hoping for a different outcome.

We’re sure the heated rhetoric isn’t helping at all. Note this example from the state leader of the Republican Party on the 31-day mark of the Democrats’ absence from the House:

“This is now your legacy, your footnote of failure.

“With your actions over the past 31 days – obstructing important pieces of legislation, like passing a balanced budget, cost of living adjustments for retired state employees and your constitutional duty on redistricting – you’ve branded the Democratic Party in Indiana far better than anything we could do,” said Indiana State Republican Party Chair Eric Holcomb.

We’re sure that only added fuel to the fire and increased the tensions that precipitated the Democrats leaving the state in the first place. Will such statements score points among longtime mainline party members? Certainly. Secure their continued support, with votes and monetary contributions? Most likely.

The other party hasn’t been particularly angelic in the rhetoric department, either. Calling Gov. Mitch Daniels’ plan to reform public education an attempt to “destroy” it was far from an attempt to curtail the argument. State Rep. Pat Bauer, D-South Bend, isn’t helping with statements like these: “Until the schemes to dismantle public education are resolved, we will continue to fight for the best possible education for Hoosier children.”

Last time we checked, dismantling public education wasn’t big on the Republicans list of things to do this session. But will statements like these from Bauer score points among longtime, mainline party members? Certainly. Secure their continued support, with votes and monetary contributions? Most likely.

We’ve heard of “No Labels,” (nolabels.org) which purports to foster a movement in which citizens who hail from a variety of political vantage points can put aside their political differences and come to consensus on some of the truly critical issues we face across the country.

We’d like to be a little less cynical and believe that a nation which fostered the Tea Party movement, a movement that sprung up quickly in response to the 2008 election cycle, can give attention to ideas such as these. It sounds remarkably sane: Put aside one’s petty political posturing and search with political opponents in an effort to find common ground to work on common problems. That would have to be much more efficient than the partisan stalemates that have become the order of the day at the state and national level.

At this writing, Indiana’s House Democrats are no closer to coming back to Indianapolis than they were when they left Indiana last month.

But also at this writing, we are one step closer to having an amendment that could make discrimination a part of our state’s constitution.

We’d like to introduce our legislators to the No Labels movement, but recognize that more than mere labels would have to be put aside in order for it to be effective.

We’re going to have to work on our cynicism before we can get our hopes up for that.•

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