When McCormick picked Goodin, the hope of a meaningful Hoosier movement ended

by | Jun 27, 2024 | Politics/Government

photo from Indiana Capital Chronicle

Life in Stephen King’s Shawshank State Prison is, at its best, mundane, repetitive and stagnant. As is the state of politics in Indiana. Surviving either or both, doesn’t require lightning to strike. It requires hope. Hope that can lead to a movement. 

Democrats in Indiana nominated former Republican Superintendent of Public Instruction, Jennifer McCormick as their nominee for governor in May’s primary. Last week, McCormick announced her preferred running mate as former Democrat state representative, Terry Goodin.

The latter was a mistake. 

There are three unrelenting, unequivocal policy issues that define what a Democrat is in 2024. To be credible with Democrat voters these days, a candidate must support women’s reproductive freedom, equality for all minority communities, and common sense gun safety measures. This isn’t the entire platform, but when asking a candidate about their support for these three, they are simple “yes/no” questions. And the answer to them must be an unwavering “yes.”

I won’t vote for any candidate, for any office, who answers any of those questions with a “no,” a “sort of,” or even a “generally.” 

Yes, that purity test applies to those running for city council, school board and county auditor. Why? Because politics, like culture, is a continuum. That pro-life county auditor might run for U.S. Senate in two years. That pro-gun rights school board member might run for Congress. And then the weakness becomes trouble. 

The truth is that these deficiencies are always trouble. They’re indicators a party is willing to bargain with its own morals.

Christian nationalist Micah Beckwith was nominated by Republicans as their lieutenant governor candidate on July 15. The worst part about this is that this absurd candidate will now be in the top echelon of GOP politics for the next decade. His views are dangerous right now and will likely only grow. Unless, of course, he and Mike Braun lose in November. 

Democrat voters are in the minority in Indiana, but not on these three issues they aren’t. Hoosiers agree with Democrats on them, by significant and measurable margins. With regard to the “big three,” Indiana is actually blue, not red. It’s time we act like it. 

McCormick is a former Republican. Overcoming that takes work and time. The average voter should be asking what made her a Republican when she was one, and why she has now switched. She seems to have answers for those questions.

But then in her first governing decision, she chose Goodin as her LG candidate. It didn’t take much research to learn that when he was in the legislature, he was wrong on the big three. All of them. All of the time. 

Times change, and people change with them. Goodin said the right things on Thursday with regard to his past stances on two of the big three. On abortion, he said, “We must do everything we can to restore the rights of women to make decisions about their own body.” On his past votes against marriage equality, he said, “At that time, I did not realize…I had totally dehumanized, demeaned and hurt thousands of Hoosiers.”

No comment about guns yet. 

It’s about hope

I appreciate Goodin’s movement. As a former Republican, McCormick has likely moved on these issues over time also. Though there is no denying they are now playing from behind on these policies. That makes it more difficult for them to represent the beginning of a cultural or political movement. Not impossible, just more difficult.

The biggest obstacle for Democrats in Indiana is not a lack of campaign money, candidate name identification, or even gerrymandered district maps. It’s apathy. The absence of passion, emotion or excitement is what limits their success from being meaningful or lasting. The party lacks hope, and hope inspires movements.

Trying to win elections by picking off Republican voters who can no longer tolerate the cultish MAGA agenda of Braun and Beckwith could bring home that recently elusive victory. However, the more likely outcome is still defeat, which will send the entire notion of a political movement back to the beginning. 

If McCormick/Goodin lose in November, neither will run again. 

First-time young voters in Indiana need to be inspired to become part of a sustained movement. That takes an unrelenting commitment to the things that matter to them. Without it, these new voters are less inclined to be lifelong supporters. Democrats cannot afford to lose them.

In “Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption,” King probably says it best: “Hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things.” It’s hope that makes freedom possible in the classic tale.

One day our government will match our morals. I hope. Every Democrat campaign needs to run on that hope, until they become a movement. 

1 Comment

  1. Sheila Kennedy

    Mike–I disagree with you about this choice, for reasons too complicated for a quick-and-dirty comment. Next time I see you, we can talk.

    Meanwhile,my email address is changing from shekenne@iupui.edu to shekenne@iu.edu. In a couple of months, the IUPUI address will no longer reach me. Please begin using the new (bureaucratically mandated) address.

    Many thanks.


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