It's no surprise to anyone who knows me, or has read my columns over the past 20 years, that I am proud to be a member of the Democratic Party, the party of Roosevelt, Kennedy and Obama. There are a multitude of reasons why.
The last three Democratic presidents have either won or have been nominated for Nobel Peace Prizes; the last three Republican presidents have had to worry about being charged as international war criminals. Democrats bring economic prosperity; Republicans bring deficits, war and fear.
I could, and have, gone on for days with additional reasons. But I will be voting in the Republican primary for the first time ever next month. Believe me, I'm not looking forward to aligning myself, even for a few minutes, with the party of repression, intolerance and war.
But I need to cast my ballot for Richard Lugar, one of the few Republicans who is principled, honest and willing to work in a bipartisan manner. For reasons not entirely clear, he seems to be engaged in the fight of his life during this primary and is under attack by the teabaggers and their thugs. He needs all of our votes.
Why Lugar, of all people, is being targeted by Republican extremists is unclear but his opponents are determined to see him gone and are spending millions of dollars in an effort to unseat him. All Hoosiers need to take a stance against the reactionary forces aligned against Lugar.
Instead of challenging him in a primary race, Republicans should be praising him to the skies and holding him up as an example of wise leadership. He represents the highest aspirations of public service and duty to his country and may, perhaps, be the last moderate Republican allowed to remain in office.
He has served not only his state but his nation with the highest degree of honor. Without his efforts, our foreign policy would be even more bungled and many more unaccounted nuclear weapons would be threatening world safety. The family farmers of America would be worse off than they are without their friend and ally, Lugar, in the Senate.
Before even becoming a senator, he ensured himself a place in Indiana history by presiding over the rebirth and revitalization of downtown Indianapolis. Without him, the city would not have been transformed from a sleepy Midwest capital to one of the most vibrant and economically competitive cities in the U.S.
I haven't agreed with every vote Lugar has cast in his more than 30 years in the Senate. He voted "guilty" in the impeachment trial of Bill Clinton, for example, and has consistently opposed progressive programs proposed by Democratic presidents. But since he is such a strong patriot, he's also not afraid to support qualified Supreme Court picks by Democratic presidents.
The only reason he falls short in the eyes of the teabagger extremists is that he actually thinks about issues before deciding where to stand on them. He's not a flamethrower of rhetoric. He understands that wise legislation comes through discussion and compromise, an attribute that automatically disqualifies him in the minds of the extremists who control the modern Republican party.
And how did those wishing to "Retire Lugar" decide on Richard Mourdock? Did he win an essay contestant? Was his name drawn at random from a list of all Republican extremists? It would be one thing if Lugar faced the end of his career by being defeated by a superior candidate. But to be beaten by Richard Mourdock is like Michael Jordan being bested by Jamaal Tinsley.
Mourdock appears to be opposed to farmers, ethanol, any kind of diplomacy and just about everything else, in fact. He's in favor of lower taxes, lower gas prices and projecting American exceptionalism across the world from the barrel of a gun.
What he really favors, though, is what all teabag Republicans favor: stopping President Obama, making sure the wealthiest people get tax breaks and making sure we are engaged in several unwinnable, unnecessary wars at once — the Bush Doctrine.
Lugar has been a friend of Indiana since his beginnings in politics. His wise leadership, integrity and honesty have been a great asset of the state for decades. He deserves better than to be treated this way.
In almost any other year, his opponent would be appropriately classified as a fringe extremist and ignored. But this is Indiana, where we take an almost perverse pride in electing lunatic politicians to office. Please let us keep the one non-insane politician, Dick Lugar, in office so he can continue to work hard for the people of Indiana.