FORT WAYNE – The Democrats have given us deja vu all over again, to quote Yogi Berra in this time warp. Clinton. Bayh. Gregg. Even the Russians are back. This year Indiana and national Democrat Party have chosen to offer voters a full slate of retread tires. Hillary Clinton, defeated by Barack Obama eight years ago, has re-emerged. She was impatiently tapping the table, chair and floor waiting for the Obama interlude to end so we could bring back the glorious days of the Clinton Era.
At least Hillary offers the historic chance for America to establish that failure is not because you are a woman or a man. Failure in governing is not because one is white, black or brown. She has already proven that women can use unfair methods to get nominated. Now Hillary wants the opportunity that liberal ideas are the problem, not gender or race. But this is an undeniable fact. No one should underestimate the inspiration she is far beyond just grown women. The fact is that little girls across this nation feel differently about their potentials this week. That isn’t just Democrat hyperbole.
In Indiana, the Democrat retreads offer no such breakthroughs. They are just old tires. Bayh has launched his campaign with an attack ad on Todd Young’s supposed desire to destroy Social Security. The ad copy is virtually identical to what Jill Long ran against me in 1994, which was over two decades ago.
In 2010 Bayh wrote in the New York Times about why he quit and decided to store his money: “In a time of national peril, with our problems compounding, we must remember that more united us as Americans than divides us.”
My personal relations with Sen. Bayh were not frequent, but when they occurred, they were always pleasant. This new axe-wielding Bayh, hauling out some of the nastiest divisive ads from the retread closet are purposely designed to falsely scare senior citizens. They sound like a more desperate, angry man. Like Bayh’s earlier complaints about the influence of money in politics, while his wife was earning big bucks working for companies that lobbied, the Bayh image does necessarily match his actions.
There is also an increasingly distressing trend in both political parties (and not only in Indiana) for people of great wealth like Bayh to live in other places, then ask residents of an area to choose them as a representative, even though they don’t eat, shop, go to church or know much about the people they desire to “represent.” What is the point of our system if the legislators don’t even have to begin as someone who lives among us?
Even with my personal humiliation of resigning, we chose to live in Fort Wayne. It was and is not easy living among friends and people supported you, after you let them down. But this is our home. I fought for them in Congress because I was, and am, one of them. What in the world has happened to this old-fashioned concept?
We might as well just pick out a couple of Washington, D.C., residents we like best, and hire them as our senators and congressmen. Actually that is precisely what Evan Bayh is asking us to do.
And then there’s Forrest Gregg. I realize that his name is John, but every time I hear his name I think of Forrest Gregg, the Hall-of-Fame lineman for the legendary Green Bay Packers. Forrest Gregg always looked old even when he was young. He was surrounded by glamorous Paul Hornung, fan favorites like Bart Starr, Jim Taylor, Boyd Dowler, Ray Nitschke, Herb Adderley, Jim Ringo, Willie Davis and many more. Not to mention coach Vince Lombardi. And then there was old reliable Forrest Gregg, not inspiring anybody, but always there as a solid dependable blocker doing his duty so flashier stars could become famous.
Sorry about the reminiscing. There’s just something about our Gregg, and all the Democrats running for that matter, that brings back the 1960s.
As for my party, retreads would not be the word to describe our candidates.The new Republican nominee for governor, Eric Holcomb, is nearly the polar opposite of Evan Bayh’s weaknesses. While Bayh has lived most of his life in Washington, Eric seems to have eaten at nearly every diner in the state, shot basketball hoops in most small towns, and circulates around the state like he’s in running for head of the tourism department.
No one has accused Holcomb of stockpiling money or being too focused on raking in the big bucks. He has worked the details inside the governor’s office, and worked the state for Sen. Dan Coats. He is, as Coats stated, among best-prepared candidates in Indiana history to be an actual governor. What he doesn’t bring is experience as a candidate or premier fundraising skills.
If the Republicans don’t select a female to be the lieutenant gubernatorial candidate, one would have to consider whether or not they are serious about winning this race. There are numerous very qualified female options who could add needed credibility as opposed to adding a retread male to the ticket.
Congressman Todd Young offers the perfect stark contrast to Evan Bayh. He is anchored in Indiana. A graduate of Indiana public schools and the Naval Academy, he has an MBA from the University of Chicago and a law degree from Indiana University. He is a seriously qualified candidate. There is a reason he was a leader in naval operations.
While the Democrats are offering retreads, the Republicans are offering experience in the next generation of top talent, including Curtis Hill for attorney general. They also are people who live here, fight for Hoosiers, and aren’t just treating us as people whose votes are for sale. Whatever the problems are with Trump, our Indiana slate is one to be proud of. Selecting a forward-looking female for lieutenant governor can seal the extraordinary contrast to the tired path chosen by the Indiana Democrats.
Souder is a former Republican congressman from Indiana.