Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Council Republicans' Shameful Vote; The Future of the Marion County GOP and the Birth of the Republican Action Coalition

Yesterday was one of the most shameful chapters in the history of the Marion County Republican Party. In nearly a party-line vote, the Republicans, on the Indianapolis City-County Council voted to spend $10 million of our tax dollars to help subsidize the billionaire owner of the Indiana Pacers, Herb Simon.

That's not MY Republican Party.

I learned my politics from my father during the late 1960s and 1970s. Having dropped out of high school to take a job to help out his financially-struggling parents, my grandparents, my father spent most of the years of my childhood working in a factory struggling to make ends meet. Every evening over the dinner table he would talk politics. Most of his comments involved bitter complaints about various Democratic officeholders. He often blasted Birch Bayh and the Kennedys for their liberal political philosophy.

But my father was also a dyed-in-the wool Democrat. So one day I asked him if he disliked the Democrats so much, why not vote Republican? I'll never forget his answer: "Son, the Republican Party is the party of the rich man. The Democrats stand for the working man."

My college years brought the Reagan years and a new type of Republican Party, one that embraced working man (and woman) as an essential part of the party's coalition. For the first time in decades, scores of union workers cast votes for a Republican Presidential candidate, someone who blue collar workers felt identified with them.

While the Reagan version of Republicanism was not without fault, it represented a stark change in direction to the elitist GOP my father warned me about. I tell people that I CHOSE to become a Republican because, under Reagan, the party had shed its elitist reputation and began embracing working men and women, the sort of folks I grew up with. That is why in 1986, I became a precinct committeemen in Pike Township, beginning my service in the Marion County Republican Party.

Last night, however, I was embarrassed by how far my local Republican Party has fallen. In a nearly unanimous vote (Republican Christine Scales voted "no"), the Republican members of the Indianapolis City-County Council voted to hand a billionaire sports owner $10 million of our tax dollars during the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression. Meanwhile, the library, bus system and parks get cut, services enjoyed by ordinary citizens. In a few weeks, that same Republican caucus will likely vote pass a 50 year parking contract to make ACS, a politically-connected company wealthy at the expense of future generations of Indianapolis residents

In the backdrop of this we have conflicts of interest and ethical problems that have become endemic within the Republican Party. A top legal advisor to the Mayor lobbies for ACS. The Republican President of the Council refuses to recuse himself even though it is his law firm represents ACS and the Simons. The Chairman of the Marion County Republican Party works on the ACS contract and lobbies the City in support of the Buckingham North-South development, to the tune of $86 million of our tax dollars.

Handing out corporate welfare and insiders using government to line their and their friend's pockets, is not what I believe the Marion County Republcian Party should be about. That's the reason I started my blog...to talk about what was going on in the local political scene.

I believe though that simply standing on the sidelines and complaining is not enough. During the early 1970s, when the local GOP organization lost its way, some Republicans organized the Republcian Action Committee which provided a structure for those wanting reform in the local GOP. While times have changed, the need for networking opportunities for like minded Republicans continue.

In the spirit of the Republican Action Committee, I am taking steps to form the (Marion County) Republican Action Coalition. The Coalitiion will be initially an opportunity for like minded Marion County Republicans to network and exchange ideas. Hopefully in the not too distant future, we can begin having meetings (looking for a free or cheap downtown location) and endorsing and promoting candidates. Where the RAC will lead, I frankly don't know. I do know though that there is a need for an outlet for Republicans who believe the local party does not stand up for the best interests of taxpayers and working men and women who are essential to any future success of Republicans in Marion County.

Please look at the website I have set up. http://www.mcrac.org/ I have set forth what I believe should be guiding principles of the Republican Action Coalitioin and needed reforms within the Marion County GOP organization to make the critical grass roots of the organization stronger. Feel free to provide feedback.

While last night's vote represented a troubling chapter in the history of the Marion County Republican Party, it may turn out to be a blessing. The vote will doom the political futures of many Republicans, including the Mayor. A stinging election defeat in 2011 will set the stage for a new kind of party, one quite diffent than that represented by the council vote last night.


Doug said...

Not really central to your post, but I'm curious about how Reagan's policies improved the lives of working men & women as opposed to the elitists favored by the Republicans prior to him.

What I've heard - from sources not generally favorable to Reagan - is that Reagan's policies were detrimental to working men and women; that he was able to convince them to vote against their economic self-interest by appealing to grievances they had that were less economic and more social.

I'd be interested in getting the other angle.

Blog Admin said...

Doug, on my limited knowledge of both things Reagan and union, I've seen some posts on Bilerico, an LGBT blog, of LGBT advocates having trouble making headway with some union folks because their liberal beliefs on organizing in the workplace don't transfer over to liberalism on social issues such as same-sex marriage.

And some people I know in the punk music scene loved Reagan, because he was a great source for music. The Wiki article for hardcore punk even has a paragraph or two mentioning Reagan, and one of the NY hardcore bands is calld the "Reagan Youth"

Indianapolis Observer said...

Of course, you mean Herb Simon since Melvin Simon is dead.

Downtown Indy said...

Re Reagan and the working man:

In a nutshell, I bought a house at the end of Carter's term and the best I could do was a 13.5% ARM -- when fixed rates were 17%.

I bought a house in Reagan's last year in office at just 7.5%.

Paul K. Ogden said...


Thanks for the correction. Yes, I certainly meant "Herb."

Doug, I'm trying to get some stuff done before the end of the day, but I'll reply later.

Nicolas Martin said...

It takes a strong capacity for self-delusion to ignore the decades of tax-and-spend Republican policies.

Until Obama broke the bank -- after Bush greased the tracks -- the biggest spending presidents in modern times have all been Republicans, and Republican-dominated state legislatures have been profligate. Republicans have been the party of Big Government throughout my lifetime at all levels of government. But the rhetoric doesn’t match the reality, and there are still Ogdens who have learned to live with cognitive dissonance.

The conservative deity, Reagan, grew government and taxes, and eliminated no federal agency. (He said he would abolish the then-new Dept. of Education, but the Republicans realized they could use it for “traditional values” indoctrination and centralization of education.) Under Reagan the Republicans solidified their view that Big Government is good, so long as they are in charge of it.

As someone who genuinely supports reduced government taxation and intrusion, I think the best thing would be for the Republican Party to implode, opening up the possibility of a party genuinely committed to small government. Big Government conservatism is no better than Big Government liberalism.

The “autopsy” that economist Murray Rothbard wrote in 1989 for the Reagan administration, should have applied to the entire Republican Party.


dcrutch said...

I love the ten principals on your "manifesto". They should be applicable to any party. When's the meeting?

Unknown said...

When you have a moment please give me a call, I would like to talk about what you are doing.

Carlos May

Cato said...

Great post, Nick. Unfortunately, the Republicans are often far worse than the Democrats, because Republicans have a strong pro-cop, pro-authority, pro-obedience, pro-war component that the Democrats don't.

Put another way, the government of Belgium is far less likely to see its cops murder citizens for failing to respect their authority than is the government of Alabama.

I'd much rather see elections be fought between the Democrats and Libertarians, while the Party of Hate fades into oblivion.

Cato said...

Carlos, in much the same way that the neocons moved in and completely changed the composition and aims of the Tea Party, perhaps bringing aboard a Ballard appointee and endorsed candidate of the Tom John machine isn't the best foundational core for a new group built to dissent with the existing group.

Let's be honest, you get paid very well to man a battlement within the existing structure that so many feel is broken.

If you want to have a conversion on the road to Damascus, go ahead, but I don't think anyone in the new front will let you into their confidence while your bills are being paid by the current despised regime.

Unknown said...

We do not know each other so I only have a statement for you, and precisely because I do not know you please understand there is no ill will intended in the statement:
I hope that you would judge an individual on the content of their character and not on the personal feelings that you ascribe to others. I merely want to hear what ideas Paul has, not to tell him what to do; indeed I do not have the desire or authority to do so.

Carlos May