Indiana Under Republican Rule


My latest article is in the Winter edition of American Affairs Journal. It's a detailed examination of Indiana under 16 years of Republican rule

Regardless of your own political orientation, you'll find things to like and things to disagree with in this piece. But I'm hopeful it will cause leaders in many northern states to rethink their approach to governance, even if they adopt somewhat different policy approaches than I do. 

A summary:

  • Indiana has had a Republican governor since 2005 and has been a GOP trifecta state since 2011.

  • During that time Indiana has implemented the full panoply of conservative policy solutions: low spending, low taxes, big surpluses, AAA credit rating, light regulation, extensive highway building. school choice.

  • The results have been bad: Indiana has grown poorer relative to the nation, population and job growth are weak (over half of counties are shrinking), wage growth is poor, educational attainment is poor, and the state is lagging in entrepreneurship and technology investment.

  • However, the same is true for an entire 23 state region I call the Old North. Red or blue, urban or rural state, large or small state, whatever demographic origins, whatever geography, VT or NH, IN or IL -> all anemic performers other than North Dakota (which has had a temporary oil boom). 

  • Indiana's GOP is not to blame for this. But it is to blame for siding with abusive industries over the needs and preferences of its own voters: slumlords, nursing homes, casinos, low wage employers, etc. 

  • Rather than an indirect strategy of business recruitment, Indiana should seek instead to directly improve the lives and promote the interests of its citizens, particularly the median citizen who is a working class, non-college educated conservative Republican.

  • There are three pillars of this: invest in citizen well-being, invest in the state's places, and protect citizens from abuse by bad industries and institutions captured by leftist ideology.

  • Undoubtedly investment in people and places is challenging in Indiana, which has a Jacksonian, folk libertarian culture. But the GOP has worked hard since the Reagan era to delegitimize the very idea that their voters should expect elected officials to do anything for them personally.

  • It will also be difficult for the GOP to adjust to defending citizens against other institutions, as it means standing up to abusive industries and woke capital, as well as universities, rogue prosecutors, etc.

  • In conclusion: "Neither woke moralism nor small-government dogma should absolve politicians of the responsibility to deliver tangible benefits to their citizens. Republicans, in particular, must take care of their actual voters."

Click through to read the whole thing

Note that after the issue went to press, Anthem insurance announced it was returning to the Obamacare exchange, addressing one specific point I had made in the article. My writing is so powerful, it changes things before it is even officially published.

This piece first appeared on Heartland Intelligence.

Aaron M. Renn is an opinion-leading urban analyst, consultant, speaker and writer on a mission to help America’s cities and people thrive and find real success in the 21st century. He focuses on urban, economic development and infrastructure policy in the greater American Midwest. He also regularly contributes to and is cited by national and global media outlets, and his work has appeared in many publications, including the The Guardian, The New York Times and The Washington Post.

Photo credit: Indianapolis Museum of Art and Google Cultural Institute via Wikimedia under Public Domain.