In a story by Maureen Groppe in the Indy Star, Amy Walter of the nonpartisan Cook Political Report, tracking U.S. House races said “Indiana is literally the center of the universe right now. To have three Republican incumbents in a very Republican state either tied or behind their Democratic opponents, what is that?”
What is that? It’s the Republicans, particularly on the federal level, betraying the people and the principles that got them there. The party of Eisenhower and Goldwater, the party of fiscal responsibility, foreign pragmatism, and small government has turned into a party of budget busting big government policies and impractical, ideological, ineffective foreign policy all mixed up with an Orwellian disregard for civil liberties and catering to the impulses of Dominionist religious groups.
The article focuses on the shifting fortunes of Chris Chocola, who started the year seeming to be safe in his seat. Now he is at least slightly behind challenger Joe Donnelly in the polls. Courtesy of Gov. Daniels, Chocola has been slammed by a double whammy of local issues, important to his constituents in north central/western Indiana on which he has been silent: Daylight Saving Time and the Toll Road sale. Combine that with increasing voter dissatisfaction with national policy generally and President Bush particularly, and suddenly Chocola has a real challenge on his hands.
Meanwhile, in Indiana’s 8th and 9th Congressional races you have challenges that were always expected to be competitive. The re-rematch between Sodrel and Hill in the 9th effectively pits two incumbents against each other. And, in the 8th, you have a successful, fairly conservative, Democratic Sheriff, Brad Ellsworth, running against the always unconventional and anemic fund raiser, John Hostettler.
The Louisville Courier Press has the story on the debate in the 9th District last night between Hill, Sodrel, and Libertarian Eric Schansberg. Mike Sodrel says we have no energy policy crisis while Baron Hill says gasoline costs are causing great pain to the public and we need to take steps to wean ourselves off of oil dependence. Little is likely to be done, Hill says, under the current administration led by oil men, Cheney and Bush. Schansberg wants to let markets run their course, creating innovatie ways to produce energy and lower costs.
I particularly liked Schansberg’s quote on the financial implications of prosecuting the war in Iraq:
“The choice has been made, so far, to finance it with debt,” Schansberg said. If the government “has the courage to spend money,” it should have the courage to pay for it now rather than leave the bill for future generations.
Baron Hill had this to say:
Hill criticized the Republican-controlled government for cutting taxes for the wealthy and for oil companies while hundreds of billions of dollars are being spent on the war.
“It doesn’t make sense to people,” Hill said.
Sodrel responded with statements about the importance of liberty to the Iraqi people and claims that the cost of the War in Iraq is small compared to the costs of World War II. And there, we have more evidence that we’ve gone from a National Republican Party of fiscally responsible, hard-headedly practical foreign policy to one that supports a fiscally irresponsible approach to funding an ideological foreign policy.
Hoosiers, by and large, are practical people who do not love opening up their wallets. They expect the same from their government.