"Usually, I am a girl with fairly definite opinions. I like something or I don’t — very little middle ground. Tomatoes are bad, cheesecake is good — that type of thing. Even with politics, I rarely waffle. But Mitch Daniels presents quite a challenge for me. The truth is, I really, really like our governor. On a personal level, I find him witty and forthright, honest and hardworking, and a genuinely refreshing change from the old guard politicians that have been keeping Indiana in the dark ages for far, far too long.
I like that Daniels is not a traditional party politics type of governor. I like that he’s essentially told the ol’ boys club at the Indiana General Assembly, Republicans and Democrats alike, to take a hike whenever they start whining about his initiatives or his lack of sensitivity to the traditional ways of doing things.
For every thing I like about our governor, however, I’ve got a laundry list of concerns and objections about the choices he’s making for our state. Yes, he was elected to save us from bankruptcy, and so far he’s done a great job of getting us out of the red. If our goal was to make a profit, well then, he’s our man.
But it seems to me that a state is not the same thing as a corporation. It seems to me that even though we all have a stake in how our state government operates, we are not shareholders in Indiana, Inc.
Running the government like a mega-corporation results in a type of inequity and insensitivity that characterizes the worst aspects of capitalism.
Now that our welfare and Medicaid systems are being privatized, the corporations that run them will do so with an eye towards their own profit and loss columns. There’s nothing wrong with them doing so; they are, after all, in the business of making money. But for every CEO salary perk, every shareholder’s increased portfolio earnings, there will be 10 very needy Hoosiers who don’t get the help they need for medical care, prescription drugs, food stamps and other basic necessities.
And I think it’s great that Daniels is part of the national “25 by ’25” campaign to see 25 percent of our energy come from alternative energy sources by the year 2025. But with the release of his “Hoosier Homegrown” energy plan, it’s clear that a good part of the other 75 percent of our energy source is going to come from Indiana coal — a coal so high in sulfur content that we currently have more than 400 billion tons of it in reserve because to burn it violates clean air standards.
I’m also not too thrilled with his penchant for quietly supporting groups like Indiana Right to Life. Though he has never made his opinions on reproductive health care part of his public persona, he has done things like sign anti-abortion legislation and then fly off to be the keynote speaker at a banquet for the country’s largest anti-abortion group and present the pen with which he signed the bill to the organization’s leader.
I suppose my trouble with Mitch Daniels is, at its core, rather Freudian. My father was a staunch Republican, a man with whom I rarely saw eye-to-eye on any type of political ideology and with whom I would spend hours debating women’s rights, environmental concerns and the very real and very necessary need for universal health care. He was a man I respected a great deal, a man with whom I could laugh, a man I trusted — even if he was wrong about everything concerning politics. Maybe that’s why I like Mitch Daniels. And also why he infuriates me so."