Indiana is a place commonly not thought of in the world of national politics. Indiana is very late in the primaries and is relatively small. In Presidential general elections, Indiana has voted red for 40 straight years. Evan Bayh and Dick Lugar, our state's senators to the U.S. Congress, are not going anywhere. During an episode of the show The West Wing, one of the Democrat characters remarks that Indiana is unwinnable. It is surrounded by the far more important electoral states Ohio, Michigan and Illinois. In terms of national politics, Indiana is inconsequential.
However, my beloved home state is not inconsequential to the United States. Sunday morning, I was to drive from a north-west suburb of Indianapolis to a southwest suburb. There, I was to meet some of my family where we would drive to southern Indiana for a Christmas get-together. On the way, I needed to stop and get some gas for the car. I ended up in a Greater Indianapolis area gas station.
As I walked in, there was a black man behind me who was quickly shuffling his way into the gas station: he had shorts on. I opened the door for him and let him through first, as it was the polite thing for me to do. Inside, he turned around and thanked me. We made a bit of conversation about it being cold and how he should have worn warmer clothing. We were both smiling. At the cash register, there was an Indian woman working the register and she smiled, asking me how I was that morning. I answered politely that I was having a fine morning and asked after her morning. She responded in a similar happy and polite manner. As I exited the store, there were a group of Hispanic guys walking into the store. They opened the door for me. I nodded and thanked them. The one holding the door smiled and said “No problem.” As they were walking in, I heard them talking happily among themselves.
I filled my tank with gas and, while doing so, mulled over the implications of that three minute little episode there. It represented a great diversity of race, religion and beliefs. However, common and chief among all qualities was that everyone was genuinely happy. Everyone was genuinely kind, polite and enjoyable. These qualities are the unifying factor of all Hoosiers: whether they are white, black, Hispanic, Catholic, Protestant, Atheist, Buddhist, Muslim, etc.
I've found that Hoosiers are, in general, less worried about being politically correct or being morally right than being happy. Most Hoosiers find it enjoyable to be personable and affable. We throw ourselves into the frenzy and excitement of basketball games: reaching a peak during March Madness. Hoosiers feel a sense of belonging to their community and tend to take care of it. The largest beautification project in Indianapolis isn't one paid for by the government but rather run and operated by volunteers. Hoosiers are incredibly involved in their local politics, while shying away from national politics. During the 2004 election, school board election signs were more prominent than Bush or Kerry signs.
Evan Bayh and Dick Lugar represent the individualist and responsible attitude of their constituents in the United States Congress. Dick Lugar is respected for his knowledge and understanding of foreign policy. A few months ago, Dick Lugar broke away from the failing foreign policy of the Republican Party and criticized the RNC for perpetuating endless war and being counter-intuitive to the safety and welfare of the United States and her citizens. Evan Bayh, while a lifetime democrat, disengages himself from the Democratic Party often.
So, while Hoosiers are largely ignored by national politics and Hoosiers kindly ignore them in response, the state of Indiana is not insignificant. Instead, Hoosiers represent the famous individualist, responsible and affable American spirit. That's the American Spirit that defeated the British at Yorktown and the American Spirit that warded off the Japanese War Machine during World War II. When Americans lose their way and their confidence, all they need to do is look inward toward the Crossroads of America to find their path.
Americans need to get back to focusing on their own community. They need to worry about local school board elections and volunteer community restoration projects. They need to get out there and campaign for their governors and their state representatives. Washington is not where the focus of the American people should be. Nor is the focus on national politics. Washington and the media focus on the President and the Senate. While important, local politics is more important. People constantly talk about the local smoking laws and the ban on smoking in public places. They talk about the rising costs of property taxes and cigarettes. People would rather just ignore the Federal government. Hoosiers ignore Washington, it's about time we realized that America does, too.Tweet