‘You gotta go along with it’ now defines Braun’s character

by | Mar 8, 2024 | Politics/Government

photo from Indiana Capital Chronicle/Whitney Downard

When paying close attention to the things politicians actually say, there are moments when their true character unmistakably shines through. The memorable comments and quips are often material for statues and memorials. Successful politicians fight the urge to be blunt because of the historical danger bluntness brings. Thankfully, eventually most lose that challenging inner battle.

Last Thursday, Sen. Mike Braun lost that battle. In an interview with Maria Bartiromo on Fox Business, she asked the Indiana gubernatorial candidate for his thoughts on how Sen. Mitch McConnell should handle his leadership transition. Braun said he thought McConnell needed to endorse the Trump campaign with this motivational advice: “Don’t fight it, you gotta go along with it.”

Sort of gives a person goose bumps, doesn’t it?

I’m reminded of other great oratorical moments from our leaders. Words that moved people, inspired us, or provided great clarity in times of uncertainty or strife.

“The only thing we have to fear, is fear itself,” from President Franklin Roosevelt comes to mind. Those were big words at a big moment.

“Ask not what your country can do for you—ask what you can do for your country,” struck a nerve when President John F. Kennedy said it.

When I walk by the statue of President Benjamin Harrison in downtown Indianapolis, I am always drawn to his quote etched into the base: “Great lives do not go out; they go on.” That may have inspired the Celine Dion song, “My Heart Will Go On.”

More goose bumps.

Being a follower never inspires. Don’t get me wrong, followers are vital to humanity. Where would we be without them? Let’s face it, all of us spend most of our time following. But all of us aren’t running for governor. All of us aren’t in the U.S. Senate. Those are jobs reserved for leaders.

Braun’s campaign is all about being not just a follower, but the best follower. It’s as if his platform is, “vote for me, it will be like voting for Trump, twice!”

The racial attacks the former president directed at McConnell’s wife, former Secretary of Transportation, Elaine Chao, should make the “go along with it” advice out of the question. Braun acknowledges that during the interview, saying he knows McConnell might “have to bite his tongue” to endorse Trump. What he’s really saying with that acknowledgement is that he would make the endorsement under the same circumstances.

And that defines Braun’s character.

It is important to quantify the value of such an endorsement. It’s worth virtually nothing to the Trump campaign. No one is withholding their support, anxiously waiting to know Mitch’s viewpoint. What Braun really is saying here is that he wants McConnell to take orders from the disgraced former president during the remaining months of his leadership term. Stop working with the majority in the Senate on immigration, budget and foreign aid deals. Braun’s against all of that.

His burn-it-down position in Washington is the brand he wants to bring to the Statehouse, I guess. But the context of the job he seeks couldn’t be more different. His party has controlled state government for two decades. The challenge for another Republican governor will be coming up with creative ways to move the state forward, creative ways to lead, not righting all of the wrongs of some boogeyman who preceded him.

Braun’s “you gotta go along with it,” comment is alarming. It is not some throw away comment one might use in a “what’s for dinner” conversation. It’s grooming. He’s saying it doesn’t matter what the details are, what morality is being sacrificed, what personal acquiescence it takes, as long as it follows. It’s how predators start the process of victimization. It’s how Adolph Hitler rose to power.

Choosing a leader well requires an understanding of the candidate’s character. Whenever a candidate hides behind someone else’s character, it is, at a minimum, lazy. But more importantly, it displays a lack of confidence in oneself, an admission of one’s own lack of depth.

I am old enough now to know that being mayor, governor or president is almost entirely about character. What people in those jobs plan to do is always made difficult or even impossible by the unexpected events that occur after taking office. That is a certainty.

Braun turns 70 in a few weeks. He is an unrelenting follower of an unhealthy man who turns 78 this summer. And his campaign pitch is that he will take his orders from this deranged and elderly man, and that everyone else should “go along with it” too.

Indiana Republicans, you can do better than Mike Braun. Anyone can be a follower. In May, you need to choose a leader.


  1. Bill Bailey

    Well said. If I were an R, Braun would not even be a consideration.

  2. Matt Reardon

    There’s nothing that says I’m a leader, more than a statement like
    “ you gotta go along with it”


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