Now that our favorite ex-mayor is dropping out of the running, the question can finally be asked.
How in the world could the reddest of red states, Indiana, nestled in the heart of corn-growing, meatloaf-eating, thank-goodness-it’s-beer-frame-bowling-night middle America, spawn a quasi-socialist like Pete Buttigieg and propel him to national prominence as a Democratic presidential contender?
We’ll get back to that. I promise.
But first, a few words from Hoosier political observers on the state’s presidential primary: whine, whine, whine.
It’s too laaate in the process. It’s irrelevant. The whole thing’s over by then. We don’t matter. Boo hoo! Let’s move it back from May to March, or even February.
How quickly we forget.
It was just back in 2008 when Democrats Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama were still duking it out as they got to our primary. Remember all those famous people who stopped by to awe the rubes, and all that wonderful cash that flowed into campaign ads?
Hillary even won. She barely eked out a victory, true. It wasn’t quite the knockout she’d hoped for, but it was enough for her to limp on for a while.
And it was a mere four years ago when Ted Cruz still hoped to turn things around here and get his second wind (or was it third or fourth?) against the Donald Trump juggernaut. It was, in fact, losing in Indiana that finally persuaded him to call it quits.
So there you have it, two possible roles Indiana could play in its May 5 primary. The sadistic dispenser of false hope or the vicious crusher of dreams.
Some of us, however, might be (not so) secretly hoping for the following scenario.
The Democratic field is a muddled mess by the time the campaigns roll into Indiana, with nobody close enough to the 1,991 delegates needed for a win to take a victory lap; Hoosier voters gleefully add to the confusion by refusing to add to the front-runner’s count.
Partly as a result of Hoosier mischief, Democrats must head to the convention in Milwaukee with no chosen candidate. There will be at least three contenders with a shot at the nomination, so there will be floor fights, backroom intrigue, deals cut and promises made, coercion, blackmail, breathless analysis by blow-dried airheads.
Meanwhile, there will be violence in the streets, and the Democratic mayor will send out heavily armed riot police and…Sorry, little 1968 flashback there.
Unfortunately, another outcome is also possible. Someone — oh, say Bernie Sanders — could have the nomination all but sewn up by Indiana and Hoosier voters could go, oh, what the hey, and go with the winner.
Do you doubt it? Can’t happen here, you say?
Remember that 2016 say-goodbye-to-Ted GOP primary? It wasn’t paid that much attention to at the time, but there was a contest on the other side, too.
And Hillary did not win that one. In fact, she lost by a whole lot of votes more than she had won by in 2008.
To Bernie Sanders.
Getting back to Buttigieg (told you I would), do you suppose he ran to his Marxist professor father (yes he was, you can look it up) and said, “Daddy, daddy, you won’t believe it — Bernie Sanders just won the Indiana primary?”
“That rightwing wacko?”
Those who profess moderation in all things political are fond of reminding Hoosiers that Indiana once ceded so much power to the Ku Klux Klan that that evil organization practically ran the state.
I will remind them that Indiana was also home to the failed socialist experiment known as New Harmony.
Leo Morris, columnist for The Indiana Policy Review, is winner of the Hoosier Press Association’s award for Best Editorial Writer. Morris, as opinion editor of the Fort Wayne News-Sentinel, was named a finalist in editorial writing by the Pulitzer Prize committee. Contact him at [email protected]. Send comments to aw[email protected] aimmediaindiana.com.