The Herald Bulletin

December 23, 2013

Viewpoint: Governors' actions defy democracy

By Kay Shively Anderson resident
The Herald Bulletin

---- — One might seriously question the Indiana Republican Party’s commitment to democracy, based on the behavior of our immediate past and current governors. We learned from Mitch Daniels that, if you disagree with an author (say, for instance, Howard Zinn), you claim that his book, “A People’s History of the United States,” is “crap” and try to ban it. When your foolishness becomes public, you claim that you were trying only to keep “innocent” schoolchildren K-12 from being exposed to it.

I have yet to find anything in Zinn’s book that would misinform a student. At any rate, Zinn’s books are used in college-level classes, and Daniels was reassured that no high schools are using them. But the fact remains that he tried to ban its use in higher education, not K-12.

Then we move on to Mike Pence. First, if you’re Pence, and you don’t like the Affordable Health Care Act — and especially the president whose idea it was — you ignore it: refuse to set up a state marketplace for the Affordable Care Act or to expand access to Medicaid, effectively keeping tens of thousands of residents from qualifying. You tout the Healthy Indiana Plan instead, which serves fewer than 36,000 and has a waiting list of 55,000. That leaves a lot of people without insurance — somewhere between 800,000+ in a state of only 6 ½ million people. (Pence acknowledges that, under the best scenario, 300,000 will still be uninsured.) When challenged, you say the uninsured can go to doctors, to med centers, and even the emergency room! Of course, they can’t afford to go to doctors or med centers, since they have no insurance, and those of us who have insurance end up paying the ER bill. By the way, isn’t the care offered at emergency rooms supposed to be limited to emergencies? Finally, you claim that your plan will keep Indiana “at the forefront of consumer-driven health care.” What, exactly, is that supposed to mean?

And then there’s education. If the people of Indiana elect a Superintendent of Public Instruction of the “wrong” party — and at a higher margin than your own vote — you just build a structure around her and try to keep her from having any authority over the education policies of Indiana. And it doesn’t matter how much money or time you waste in the process. This new body, the Center for Education and Career Innovation (CECI), was created for the express purpose of doing an end run around Glenda Ritz. The State Board of Education, whose members were all appointed by Daniels or Pence, already providing her a challenge, is now under the CECI, six of whose 16 members make over $100,000 annually — more than Ritz makes. The CECI reports directly to the governor, incidentally.

Isn’t it interesting that the “small government” governor would create such a superfluous and conflicting structure? Mr. Pence declared that he’s not trying to remove Ritz from office. Of course not; he’s already been told he can’t legally do that. This is his alternative.

Ban ... ignore ... bypass. Does this sound like democracy to you?