Monday, October 23, 2006

John Barnes For State Representative

John Barnes was my high school history teacher, and he made United States history interesting during first period, at something like 7:30 in the morning, or whenever it was that I had first period in high school. Now, he is running for State Representative in Indiana House District 89, in which I happen now to live, since I moved from Southport to Irvington at the end of May.

Barnes is challenging incumbent Republican Larry Buell, who has served two 12-years stints in the Indiana House (getting bounced out of office in 1992 and then brought right back again in 1994) and who is simply complacent with the fact that he has been in office for so long. I wrote a letter (which was not printed) to the editor of the Indianapolis Star in support of John Barnes, who is actively campaigning for this job - as opposed to Buell, who is merely sitting back on his laurels and assuming that the tried and true conservatives in his district will just saunter into the polling place and vote Republican without thinking about it on November 7th.

Buell refuses to come to the table to debate John Barnes on the issues, and has refused to do so all summer. One has to ask why this is so. If someone has served in the Indiana House of Representatives for as long as Mr. Buell has done, surely he has plenty of experience and success upon which he can draw in order to participate in a strong, lively debate with a political newcomer. Or, you know, maybe not.

I am not against career politicians, provided that those politicians are still doing good work and not simply rotting on the vine (Strom Thurmond, anyone?). An excellent case in point is United States Senator Richard Lugar, who is running for re-election this year. Dick Lugar has been in the Senate for 340 years, and before that was mayor of Indianapolis for 82 years. He even ran for President once or twice, though there was not much support for his candidacy. So he’s been around. But he’s not just sitting there. He’s been considered for the Nobel Peace Prize for the last several years for his nearly tireless work in helping to destroy stockpiles of nuclear weapons (for you Bushies out there, that’s “nuke-yuh-ler”).

Lugar is running unopposed, and would win going away even if he had an opponent - and yet he is still running television ads to let voters know what it is he has been doing. Why would anyone in his position bother to do so? The answer is that actions are important - Dick Lugar is not running for re-election just to run for re-election, and he is not ignoring his voters. He is doing good, good work in the Senate - despite the fact that he is a Republican - and helping to rid the world of the weapons of mass destruction. In fact, now that I think about it, he has done more to rid the world of weapons of mass destruction than has President Bush. Dick Lugar is destroying nukes, and George Bush has gotten more Americans killed in Iraq than died at the World Trade Center. Which is the Republican of whom we can be proud (insofar as pride in a Republican can be a viable concept)?

Larry Buell is shuffling bills around his desk that have to do with pensions and with honoring all sorts of people for all sorts of things - mostly local sports teams, and the wayward teacher who wins a spiffy national award. Mostly what Larry Buell is doing is standing behind House Speaker Brian Bosma’s push for things like statehouse prayer and a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage - and Buell isn’t even out in front on those things. Bosma is - he isn’t right, but he is at least sticking his neck out there and saying what he thinks and doing what he honestly believes to be right.

We don’t just need fresh, energetic voices in state government. We also need to start dismantling the kind of “leadership” that drives this ultra-conservative agenda. We need people like John Barnes in state government, and we need people like Larry Buell out of state government.

John Barnes is all upside - and, he even got the endorsement of the notoriously right-leaning Indianapolis Star. In fact, if you’re reading this, take a moment to follow that link there and zip over to the Star’s web page that discusses their endorsement of John Barnes. Then read the comments to that endorsement - two supporting, two dissenting. Of the four, which two sound like they were written by people who are naked inside their fear?

Finally, take a look around the east side neighborhoods of District 89 and look at how many John Barnes yard signs have popped up. For awhile, I thought mine was the only one - but they’re everywhere now. There are some Buell signs, too, but around here, anyway, the energy is on the John Barnes side. Pass the word - tell everyone you know - and vote for John Barnes for State Representative on November 7th!

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