People Power: PR Firms Won’t Fix Indiana’s Problems

The Power of the People – Voting – Will Fix Indiana’s Problems

MUNCIE, Indiana NEWS – Not really surprised when the press release came across the wire that Indiana was hiring a top propaganda machine to repair the damage brought to our state by Governor Mike Pence and a super majority of right-wing republicans. Creating state laws to avoid local protections for the LGBT community may have seemed like another political coup for these evangelical, gay-bashing lobbyists, but as Pence quickly learned, it didn’t go over well in the eyes of some corporate citizens. However, not much noise being made while lawmakers dismantle public education, eliminate common construction wages, and remove a democratically elected official from power. Where are our corporate heroes now?

Sending two million dollars from the war chest these thugs have stolen from Hoosiers might seem like a time for celebration, but padding the pockets of another highly priced consulting firm doesn’t solve our problems. We’re still trying to get our economic development friends in Anderson to understand why we objected to our state paying $600,000 to an environmental consultant to complete a feasibility study on a large reservoir in an urban setting while claiming we could sell contaminated water to an imaginary buyer of water when there is not a present or future water supply shortage in East Central Indiana.

Hoosiers Must Own Our Problems

Before we go any further, Hoosiers need to realize that we created this mess and we’re the only ones who can fix it. We can’t blame anyone but ourselves. Period. Listen, these ‘representatives’ live in our communities and we voted for them. Barely more than one-fourth of potential voters participated in determining the makeup of the 2015 Indiana General Assembly. Indiana posted the lowest voter turnout percentages in our history and the worst of all voters showed up and elected these bigots. You reap what you sow.

Muncie Voice has written 2-3 articles a week for at least three years trying to educate Hoosier voters about the level of corruption within our political system from a national to state level – mainly through moneyed interests who literally buy (bribe) elected officials. It’s as simple as that. Our “local state officials” literally are owned by outside moneyed interests who do business in our state. So, while these officials may live here, they’re now working for Big Money who live elsewhere.

Because we couldn’t make it to the polls, and the right-wing, Rush Limbaugh listening fanatics did; those we now have in office; this super majority of republicans; mainly bigots, racists, and misogynists; are running our state government. We shouldn’t be surprised if they passed bigoted legislation which brought shame to our state.

This is our reality; our pig we have to face. It’s not pretty, but it’s our pig.

The lawmakers who are repealing the common wage law in Indiana, where per-capita incomes already ranks a lowly 39th among all 50 states; or stripping authority from State Superintendent of Schools, Glenda Ritz; or the bigots who passed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) into law; we placed them into office. Despite all the warnings this would ultimately damage our livelihoods, reputation, and quality of life in Indiana. It is our creation.

This fringe element didn’t make amends to us, they’ve stamped all over our rights. Mike Pence admitted on national television that he doesn’t understand why this public outcry came about – “Hoosiers are good people!” he told George Stephanopoulos. It took corporations outside Indiana’s borders to scare them on RFRA, but they are still eliminating Glenda Ritz, the only democrat elected to statewide office and repealing an 85-year-old common construction wage law which will lower wages on workers already suffering in Indiana.

These lower wages for workers will mean higher wages for CEO’s and higher profits for corporations who do business here. Maybe this is why our corporate heroes aren’t too concerned about these other laws the fringe element are passing on Hoosiers. Our corporate heroes are gone silent on lower regulations which means pollution for Hoosiers. They don’t raise their voice to complain about our low quality of life because they enjoy the low corporate tax rates republicans have delivered. What about all the policies republicans have passed against minorities and immigrants?


Intentionally Poor Policy Making by Hoosier Leadership

We’ve explained how republican leadership, the party representing moneyed interests, has placed us in the bottom Quintile of nearly all polls measuring quality of life. Based on every outside entity, Hoosiers are suffering with low incomes and low quality of life. We’ve even got some new measurements to introduce to readers showing how we match up with peers on social issues.

Consistently low wages and low quality of life over a long period takes its toll on Hoosiers. Hope and prosperity is replaced with despair and powerlessness. Kids see no hope growing up in this mess, and neither do their parents. What do they do? Escape.

It’s no wonder we read headlines about Meth and heroine usage. Hoosiers are also turning to alcohol and gambling as vices to escape this long-term misery when they see no way out.

Quite frankly, we’ve never heard so many people talking about leaving Indiana as we have over the past two years. If you’re mobile, this is an option. If not, the bottle seems like a plausible escape.

Poor Mike Pence must be the most deluded man in the world. He honestly believes things are going well and Hoosiers have already begun healing from his bungling of the religious freedom law. Really? Can he be that out of touch?

Almost within 48 hours, his future presidential aspirations went up in smoke. Yet, he still thinks life is grand.

We believe Indiana is riding along a precipice at this juncture. We’re pretty sure governors from surrounding states see the blood in the water. They know we’re wounded and bleeding heavily. Our bottom dwelling ways are getting ready to bite us hard where it hurts. The republican governor from Illinois recently said, “I’m going to rip the economic guts out of Indiana.”

He knows our race to the bottom has consequences, and he’s going to exploit them. We would do the same if we saw Ohio or Michigan floundering under such poor leadership.

Let’s be real, honest people with leadership skills don’t hire public relations firms to tidy up their reputation. If our leaders were putting Hoosiers first, and doing the right things, we’d have new residents flocking into Indiana. Billboards and cute videos on television during the nightly news will not alter our reality.

Poor Wellness Indicates Deeper Dysfunction

Meanwhile, Scott County is experiencing the highest AIDS epidemic the Midwest has ever witnessed – drug addicts shooting up heroine and swapping used needles with HIV infected users.

Gallup-Healthways just released their Wellbeing Index and we are one of the sickest states in the union – ranking 48th out of 50 states. Public relations can’t change this and denying it won’t help either. Again, this hasn’t happened overnight. It’s not because of a policy or new law. It’s the plan of republican leaders in this state. It’s not working. PR firms can’t erase the facts.

According to a recent Pew Study:

The voting-eligible population was 4,818,728 for the 2014 election. Only 1,388,965 of those Indiana residents voted, or 28%. It was the lowest turnout in America, according to the United States Elections Project. Among those who voted, 63 percent chose republicans in races for the Indiana House of Representatives, compared to 36% who picked Democrats.

Are you starting to see the picture?

American corporations stood up for the LGBT community because it impacts their bottom line. Period.

They’re not going to help us reverse these negative trends. They can’t vote the bigots out of office. The bottom line is Hoosiers are the only ones who can turn this around. We are the only ones who can send a loud and clear message to those outside the Hoosier state – we won’t tolerate hate and bigotry.

We Aren’t Powerless Over Our Situation

I hate to break the news, but our low Wellbeing rankings mean we don’t value ourselves. We don’t care if our government pollutes us with toxic air and water. We don’t care if our “Love of coal” is literally causing our lungs and organs to become toxic and filled with cancer.

Newsflash! Check with your local hospital to see if cancer treatments in our state are increasing or decreasing. Ask if they are building new cancer wings to prepare for an influx of new patients. Hint, hint.

People who are powerless over their condition, give up trying and start escaping. Our higher use of drugs is an indication of dis-ease. Drug usage is a sign of other causes and conditions. Using drugs indicates deeper problems. Like a runny nose or chest congestion are signs a virus may have infected us.

However, we aren’t powerless over our lives. It may feel like it sometimes, but we do have all the power we need to change our surrounding conditions. The current political party in power has absolutely NO reason to help you, nor do they care if you choose to suffer. You can sit around and complain all day long, but the folks serving in Indianapolis could care less. They don’t work for you. They work for large corporate interests outside of Indiana and some within our state.

We can protest to gain attention to our plight. We can stand up for ourselves on social media and send letters to our representatives. But, the only way Hoosiers are going to see real changes in Indianapolis is to vote out each one of these bigoted officials out of office.

We can absolutely guarantee you our current corporate-funded, special-interest-backed national political action group government officials, we now have in Indianapolis, won’t give it back to the people without a fight. They’ve stolen $2 billion of our money and will fight us to keep it. Lots of cronies can be paid from the $2 billion surplus they’re hoarding in Indianapolis.

If Hoosiers want real change in this state, you’ll have to use the most powerful vehicle you have – an informed vote against corrupted power. Inform yourselves, and share information with your family and neighbors. Nobody outside our borders have the power to change our corrupted system. The only people who have the power to put in a government that works for the people are Hoosiers.

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Todd Smekens

Journalist, consultant, publisher, and servant-leader with a passion for truth-seeking. Enjoy motorcycling, meditation, and spending quality time with my daughter and rescue hound. Spiritually-centered first and foremost. Lived in multiple states within the USA and frequent traveler to the mountains.

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