Tag Archives: Braun

From Hudnut And Lugar To…Pathetic

In a recent post, I explained my long-ago departure from the Republican Party by sketching the GOP’s transition from a political party into a ragtag collection of culture warriors, con men and moral pygmies.

I’m certainly not the only person who’s noticed: David Brooks–a conservative-but-not-insane columnist for the New York Times recently bemoaned the fact that Republicans have abandoned principled policy debate in favor of fighting culture wars. And Yuval Levin of the American Enterprise Institute has wondered whether we may see a “policy realignment without a partisan realignment” because Republicans have found so many “cultural ways” to attract votes.

One of the many problems with Republicans’ metamorphosis from political partisans to culture warriors (a nice word for White Supremicists)  is the quality–or, more accurately, the absence of quality–of the political figures the party elevates.

Here in Indiana, the GOP is no longer  the party of able, principled people like Bill Hudnut and Richard Lugar. Besmirching the legacy of Lugar’s long and honorable Senate service, we have Mike Braun enabling the worst of Trumpism, and Todd Young obediently protecting billionaires from taxation and gun crazies from regulation.

Both have voted  in lockstep with other Trumpian “ditto heads” in the Senate–against the recent COVID relief package, against confirming Merrick Garland as Attorney General… essentially, against anyone or anything a Democratic President wants.

Neither of them can point to anything positive or important that they’ve accomplished. Their sole “platform” is that they have faithfully enabled  the GOP descent into Trumpian bigotry and culture war. 

Dick Lugar is rolling over in his grave.

And then we have Todd Rokita. I have previously posted about his effort to hold a second, well-paid job while purportedly acting as Indiana’s Attorney General–a full-time job. After the media highlighted that particular scam, Rokita quit that particular private-sector job–but it turns out, that wasn’t the only con he was running.

According to the Indiana Star

Indiana Attorney General Todd Rokita is getting paid $25,000 a year for advising a Connecticut-based pharmaceutical company on top of being compensated by at least one other company for similar work, IndyStar has discovered.

On Wednesday, Rokita filed a financial disclosure form with the Indiana inspector general’s office in which he described his ongoing involvement in 2020 with various companies. He acknowledged being paid by these companies, but his office declined to tell IndyStar how much. 

“We have provided all of the information required to be in compliance with the law,” spokesperson Molly Craft told IndyStar over email.

The financial disclosure comes weeks after Rokita faced scrutiny when it was reported that he was still working for the health care benefits firm Apex Benefits despite taking public office.

The paper reported that Rokita is being compensated by business accelerator Acel360, the Indianapolis-based transportation and logistics company Merchandise Warehouse and a pharmaceutical company, Sonnet BioTherapeutics. It was also able to confirm that he is being compensated by another pharmaceutical company called NanoViricides that he began working with in 2020 (in anticipation of his winning his campaign for AG?). 

Democrats have labeled Rokita a “walking conflict of interest,” and pointed out that–as a “well-known opponent of the Affordable Care Act”  he’s in position to place not just his political ideology but the interests of his private-sector benefactors ahead of the duties his office demands.

Thanks to the fact that the Indiana General Assembly is part-time, members are allowed to keep their “day jobs.” (That situation has pluses and minuses–members arguably bring  deepened understanding of many issues to legislative discussions, but the potential for conflicts of interest is greatly enhanced.) That same permissiveness doesn’t apply to statewide elected positions. Governor, Lieutenant-Governor, Superintendent of Public Instruction and Attorney-General are intended to be full-time jobs.

It would seem obvious to principled people that if they can’t “make it” on the state’s salary, they shouldn’t run for the office. Of course, it would also be obvious to principled people that throwing  dishonest red meat to voters terrified of losing cultural hegemony is a dishonorable way to win an election.

But then, these aren’t principled people.

 

The Gravedigger Of American Democracy

This post is a plea to my Indiana readers.

When those of you who haven’t already voted go to the polls, vote for Joe Donnelly.

Am I enthusiastic about Donnelly? No. His television ads are insulting (although not quite as despicable as the spots supporting his opponent, Braun.) Those ads repel rather than motivate the Democratic base and they infuriate even moderate Democrats. His support for Trump’s wall is an obvious play for the sizable and embarrassing contingent of Hoosiers who oppose immigration and fear immigrants.(News flash, wall enthusiasts: the great majority of “illegal” immigrants fly to the U.S. and then overstay a visa. A wall–even if building it on the border were feasible–would do exactly nothing to deter them. But don’t let logic interfere with your bigotry.)

There’s more, but it’s all irrelevant, because a vote for Donnelly is a vote against Mitch McConnell. And that makes it really, really important.

In a review of a book on the rise of Hitler that drew parallels between the 30s in Germany and the contemporary U.S., ( the book title is The Suffocation of Democracy), the New York Review of Books included a perfect characterization of McConnell:

If the US has someone whom historians will look back on as the gravedigger of American democracy, it is Mitch McConnell. He stoked the hyperpolarization of American politics to make the Obama presidency as dysfunctional and paralyzed as he possibly could. As with parliamentary gridlock in Weimar, congressional gridlock in the US has diminished respect for democratic norms, allowing McConnell to trample them even more.

As one of my sons noted, in a Facebook exchange with a Democrat unhappy with Donnelly,

As most of us (sadly) recognize, we don’t have a choice on the ballot between “perfect”and not perfect; we only have a choice between “decent” (Donnelly) and “horrible” (Braun/McConnell). Let’s go for decent.

Donnelly will vote for Democratic priorities about half of the time. Braun will vote for right-wing Republican priorities and continue to demonstrate his fidelity to Trump and Trumpism all of the time.

A Republican friend has come to the same conclusion. Commenting on the Donnelly/Braun race, he wrote that Braun, in his view, had violated one of Indiana’s most important values by running explicitly as a “Christian.”

Does that not make it appropriate to ask which biblical verses he adheres to and which he does not? Which he elevates and which he dismisses? Perhaps candidates will need on a scale of 1 to 10 to rate their conviction in various tenets of Christian faith, so we know who to trust.

How are these questions not appropriate if Braun runs as if Christianity is a qualification for office, when in Indiana, it explicitly is not.

I’m not being clever. Braun’s kind of campaigning is so outrageous that our Ancestors here saw through it…. Recognized the danger and the nonsense…and banned religion as a qualification for government. I don’t think anybody who doesn’t understand that has any business near the levers of power.

I agree. But even if Braun weren’t so obviously an eager participant in the Trumpist assault on American and Hoosier values, even if he wasn’t touting his Christian credentials at a time when Trump is demonizing immigrants and engaging in rhetoric that encouraged a rightwing fanatic to mow down eleven Jews, a vote for Donnelly would still be important.

Why? Because Donnelly’s first vote will be against Mitch McConnell, and McConnell–aka the most evil man in America–is the gravedigger of American Democracy. And a vote for Donnelly–warts and all– is an opportunity to cast a vote against Mitch McConnell.

And any vote against Mitch McConnell is a vote to be proud of.