People who know me well often ask how I can be Republican. Though the answer can be complex, one fundamental answer for me personally is that my parents were (and are) Republican, and I wanted to be just like them. I still do; my parents are wonderful people... educated, compassionate, good-humored, honest, hard-working, even-tempered, and sympathetic to all walks of humanity.
But why were my parents Republican? I didn't understand the answer to that question until very recently, and the answer relates to something that happened in Indianapolis in the 1966. I now understand it fully.
In my opinion, if you live in Central Indiana and are disgusted with many aspects of the Republican Party, but you struggle to call yourself a Democrat, you need to learn what happened in 1966, and that the same in Indianapolis will inevitably now recur. The result will excite; indeed, I think among young Republicans there is a growing air not of defeat, but of anticipation. I believe that great talent will emerge in the Republican Party here.... as it did under similar circumstances once before... business-oriented, energetic, compassionate, and forward-looking.
Indianapolis in 1965
In 1965, Indianapolis was a backward town, lacking any sky-scrapers or any improvements. The city was in the hands of two political machines, each stagnant in its power. The Democrats controlled the Mayor's office, but the Republicans had their own power structure, fueled by a patronage system that ensured that the Marion County Chairman, a racist named Dale Brown, controlled all things Republican. With entrenched power structures asleep at the switch, talented people who had their own powerful visions of what Indianapolis could become were frustrated. There was no way to make anything happen. Or so it seemed.
The Republican Action Committee, Keith Bulen, and "the Greatest Generation" of Indianapolis Republicans
But there was formed an insurgent group who called themselves the Republican Action Committee. Borrowing heavily on the strengths of young, educated professionals and business people, the RAC placed an effort under the leadership of a man named Keith Bulen, well known now to older Republicans and past Republicans in Indianapolis. Bulen recruited like-minded people to get active in assuming precinct committee positions. In one fell swoop, the Republican Party power structure in Indianapolis, racist and corrupt, fell to a new generation with views that were 180 degrees from their predecessors. It was this group that recruited Dick Lugar to run for mayor, and who included or produced the successful leadership of people like Buert SerVass, Mayor Bill Hudnut, and Lt. Governor John Mutz. These leaders and their peers consolidated city and surrounding governments and set the stage for the revitalization of Indianapolis. They generally worked effectively across party lines and sought diversity in their ranks. (And working closely with Richard Lugar was a young Mitch Daniels.)
(It is no wonder that SerVass supported the HRO, and that it was John Mutz who hosted a recent panel discussion on civil marriage equality at St. Luke's Methodist.)
As it happens, my parents and their circle of friends were among those young professionals, all from Indianapolis and its environs, who saw only in that group the possibility of serious change in Indianapolis, and contributed through precinct committee work. Consequently, through most of my life I have associated with Republicans in Indianapolis a decency and a vision with which I am very much at home. As represented by them, the Republican Party was not defined by intolerance and resistance to change, for it was intolerance and resistance to change that they so soundly defeated.
The Republican Party In Indianapolis
With this history in mind, it is with considerable excitement that I survey the landscape in Indianapolis. The Republican Party for a long time allowed it reins to slip into the hands of the very kind of conservatism it had once rejected, repelling and reversing the Party's great legacies. But defeat after defeat has been handed it recently, as those candidates who embrace right-wing conservatism so tightly have been rejected by the electorate in Indianapolis... and on a state-wide basis for state-wide offices.
It is clear to me now that a young generation of Republicans has become fed up with the agenda of intolerance that the Republican Party has pursued against gays, just as two generations previous to them were fed up with the Party's intolerance of blacks. And this younger generation is ever more organized. Whether they take the reins of power now or soon, or after some defeat of some insistent reactionary politician still breathing, I believe their success in achieving dominant stature in Central Indiana is inevitable.
Call to Action
Whether you are Republican or Democrat, it is a forward looking Republican Party that we need in Indiana. If you are not a Democrat, then I urge you to contact First Republicans (Info@FirstRepublicans.org) immediately to discuss how you can help. The future is bright.
(See also our Principles at First Republican Forum.)