Sen. Joe Donnelly

The so-called “Blue Wave” heard crashing over so many parts of the nation during the 2018 Midterm Elections failed to make even a splash here in Indiana's congressional races.

And, based on what I've been hearing from Democratic leaders in the weeks since, I do not have great confidence they have learned anything from this disappointing result.

My first inkling of this arrived Dec. 11 when incoming House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer sat down with President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence for their bizarre meeting in the Oval Office.

While Pence sat prone in his seat looking as if he was fervently forming a silent prayer that the Rapture would begin at that very moment, Trump bragged about his gains in the upper chamber of Congress.

“Excuse me, did we win the Senate? Did we win the Senate?” he said.

At that moment, Schumer, seeming to sense an opening, turned to the cameras.

“When the president brags he won North Dakota and Indiana, he’s in real trouble,” he retorted.

The smirk on Schumer's face was one of deep satisfaction with his improvised zinger.

Yet, all I heard was the collective sounds of every progressive in those two states slapping their collective foreheads as they were simultaneously written off.

My concern only deepened Dec. 28 when outgoing Democratic Indiana Sen. Joe Donnelly was interviewed by CNN's Dana Bash on The Lead With Jake Tapper.

“When you talk 'Medicare-for-all' start losing the people in my state," Donnelly said. "When we start talking about, 'Hey, we're going to work together with the insurance companies to lower premiums,' that's what connects. The talk on the coasts just doesn't get it done in the middle.”

Yes, Joe, you would know about losing people in your state.

“Socialists want to turn health care over to the government,” the narrator of one of Donnelly's television ads produced during the final days of his doomed campaign intoned.

“Over my dead body,” Donnelly says to the camera, after it cuts back to a shot of him standing in front of Monument Circle.

Spoiler alert: Donnelly proceeded to lose the same state which democratic socialist Sen. Bernie Sanders won just two years prior in the Democratic primary. And, just for the record, Sanders won North Dakota, too.

The 2020 presidential election is next year, so, please, Democrats, act like Republicans just this once. Do you ever see them throwing their own base overboard trying to attract the other side? Of course, you don't. And, that's why they control nearly all the levers of power in this country.

Americans—yes, even Hoosiers—like progressive ideas, if you have the courage to fight for them.

If conservatives want to vote for a Republican, there will be one sitting right there on the ballot. You have to give your natural constituencies a reason to turn out at the polls.


Rob Burgess, News Editor at NUVO, can be reached by email at, by phone at 317-808-4614 or on Twitter @robaburg.

News Editor

My background is that I'm the fourth generation in my family to work as a journalist. I also have a degree from Indiana University in Elementary Education. My wife, Ash, and I have two children, Harper, 4, and Emerald, 1.

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(1) comment


I'm encouraged by the commentary by Rob Burgess.
Since the 1990s, Democrats have retreated from those issues most important to large segments of their base. Both on the national and certainly state level in Indiana, the party leadership has all but closed the door to those not affluent, white, and just as unconcerned for the working poor and minority populations.
Urban voters have been commanded to play the lesser-of-two-evils game for decades, while party leadership remains unaccountable in the face of successive defeats.
Calls for change are dismissed by the Democratic status quo with lame talk of purity, or the empty scare tactic, "do you want the other (right-winger) to be elected?"
As the ever tone-deaf Donnaly should have learned but didn't, Democrats won't win by relying more on cross-over votes than from the party's (dwindling) base.

As a public-school teacher, I'm (once again) insulted by the Democratic leadership who expects me to support a pro-charter mayor's re-election bid. I can assure the state party chair of only two things:

I won't support candidates like Donnelly in the future, and I'm not voting for a Mayor who hosts a charter scheme hawker in his own offices.