The crossroads of America has officially become the crossroads of the GOP.
Yesterday, we watched as U.S. Sen. Richard Lugar, long respected for his moderate views and votes, sided with right-wing Republicans in a party-line drive to overturn President Obama’s unprecedented health care package, which will deliver affordable coverage, cheaper prescription drugs and small business tax breaks to almost one million Hoosiers.
This is the same senior Senator who recently stood with President Obama to support a nuclear weapons treaty with Russia and access to citizenship for young immigrants who pledge to their allegiance to this country through education or military service.
Five years ago, I went on the record to say that “Richard Lugar is beloved not only by Republicans, but by Independents and Democrats.”
Times have changed.
Today, with Tea Party activists recruiting a candidate to challenge him, Lugar has been forced to the right – away from the values we cherish as a state of moderate, logical thinkers.
Washington Post political analyst Chris Cillizza said this morning that Lugar is rapidly emerging as the top Tea Party target next year. Taking him down in a primary would give their patchwork movement both credibility and momentum.
There’s only one message we can derive from this assault on a venerable public servant: There’s no room for independents or moderates in the new Republican Party.
Hoosiers have long believed that a political system marked by compromise and rational thinking achieves the best results. That’s why the state has embraced Lugar’s brand – alongside Democrats like Evan Bayh and Frank O’Bannon – for decades.
The growing Republican rift gives us an opportunity to showcase what Indiana Democrats have always believed: We are fiscally conservative, moderate on social issues and wholly committed to policies that improve education and create jobs.
For the sake of our state, I hope Richard Lugar sticks to the principles that have won him so many elections – and a place in the hearts of those in the heartland.
Indiana deserves leadership that reflects hard-working Hoosier values, not pandering to a group of fringe activists who are angry at America.
Our party has always fought for those Hoosier values, and we will continue to do so – united in our efforts – as we work hard this year and next year to elect Democrats across Indiana.
Thank you for your commitment to this state, our values and the Democratic Party.
Daniel J. Parker