There’s a myth in Indianapolis Republican circles that goes something like this: back in the good old days, the Indiana GOP was made up of high-minded, moderate statesmen from metro Indianapolis like Richard Lugar and Bill Hudnut. Then a bunch of troglodytes from rural Indiana like Mike Pence took over and wrecked the party and state with extreme social conservative policies that are bad for business.
Reality is very different. Since Republicans retook power in the state in 2005, Indiana has largely been run by Republicans from metro Indianapolis who have operated according to a philosophy Mitch Daniels called “the truce,” or the avoidance of social issues in favor of fiscal and economic development matters.
In terms of actual legislation enacted, Indiana is one of the least socially conservative red states. But the economic results have also been underwhelming to poor for the state and its people. The Indianapolis GOP elites and their truce both effectively disenfranchised and impoverished the state’s Republican voters, while the left, which never agreed to any part of a truce, made significant advances on its own social policy agenda in the state.
From the standpoint of the average Republican voter, the truce was thus a double failure. There’s no reason to believe abandoning cultural issues in favor of economics will work anywhere. Read more…