As a twenty-year member of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, and therefore a lifelong registered Democrat, I find myself in a bit of a quandary these days.
From 1988 until 2004 (with my vote) the Democrats were in charge of the great state of Indiana, my state of residence for most of my life.
Now I must admit that they got some things accomplished. Gambling was legalized along with a state lottery (a vice that I admit submitting to from time to time).
During these sixteen years Indiana lost a great many manufacturing jobs. I know the trend of the whole nation was to lose these kinds of jobs, but it seemed Indiana lost more than our fair share.
In 1988 the state had an operating budget surplus. By 2004 the red ink was flowing. The bureau of motor vehicles was embroiled in scandal, it seemed no offense was enough to lose your drivers license if you gave money to the right people. Folks were talking about needing better roads between Indianapolis and South Bend and the great need to extend Interstate 69 to Evansville to bring economic progress to the southwest corner of the state.
In 2004 a Republican named Mitchel E. Daniels Jr. (former Bush administration budget director, and Eli Lilly C.E.O.) was elected governor. Since then even his enemies have to admit things have been happening at an astounding speed.
The most controversial thing he has done was to lease the Indiana Toll Road (a road that has never made money and in fact has always been a drain on the state budget) to a Spanish-Australian consortium for 75 years. The state put $3.9 billion in the bank and, in addition to making half a million dollars a day just in interest, now has the money to complete I 69 and upgrade U.S.31 between Indianapolis and South Bend to interstate status.
Indiana adopted daylight savings time (yes I know everybody else did it years ago) which led to Federal Express announcing on April 13, 2006 plans to greatly expand its operation at Indianapolis International Airport. Making it the second biggest air hub in the company, just behind company headquarters in Memphis, Tenn.
Toyota announced March 12, 2006 plans to move its popular Camry assembly line into the underutilized Subaru plant in Lafayette, Ind.
On June 19, 2006, Mitsubishi announced plans to expand their Indiana Packers plant in Delphi Indiana adding another 125 jobs.
On July 11, 2006, Dollar General Corp. announced the opening of their 1.1 million square foot distribution center in Marion, Ind., with 130 employees and another 100 or so to come.
On Feb. 10, 2006, Walmart announced an 895 thousand square foot distribution center in Gas City, Ind., scheduled to open during the first quarter of 2007 with about 800 new jobs.
On July 10, 2006, Honda announced plans to open a new assembly plant at Greensburg, Ind., with about 2000 jobs.
On July 11, 2006, Nestle announced a new plant to be built in the Anderson, Ind., area, making Nesquick and Coffee Mate, bringing another 300 jobs to an area of the state that desperately needs it.
My union brothers tell me that the Republicans are for the rich, and that the working man suffers when they are in charge. It seems to me however that a whole lot more working men (and women, too, for that matter) are working around here.
They say all politics is local. I wonder what my next vote should be?