Melton Op-ed: Hoosiers Are Tired of the Bare Minimum; They Want Fair Redistricting

Published On: August 27th, 2021Categories: Caucus, Eddie MeltonTags:

Word Count: 778

Hoosiers are tired. They are tired of hearing the same canned lines by politicians who promise more opportunity but only deliver the bare minimum. They are tired of seeing their families fall short while only a few get ahead. Most of all, Hoosiers are tired of being lied to when it matters the most.

Right now, the system is rigged against working Hoosiers and Hoosier families. It is rigged to place the politics of the supermajority above their needs and interests. 

Our out-of-balance system must be reversed, but why is it like this in the first place? The answer is partisan gerrymandering.

When voting maps were created last decade, the Republican Party designed legislative and congressional maps that were more partisan than 95 percent of the country, according to a recent report by Women 4 Change.

Ten years ago, counties, cities and communities were divided up so much that the majority of Indiana’s districts are non-competitive and primarily favor Republicans—which has left voters feeling powerless.

During a public redistricting meeting in early August, one resident said, “People in this state feel democracy is a lost cause—that the Legislature doesn’t care and the gerrymandered districts aren’t designed to be representative but designed to allow those in power to continue to hold power.”

With the way our maps are drawn now, elected officials determine who they will represent instead of voters determining who will represent them—which is not what the U.S. Constitution intended.

When the system is backwards like this, politicians can disregard the voices of voters, because they don’t have to worry about losing an election already rigged in their favor. Do you know what’s happened in the decade since voting maps were drawn?

Republicans have prioritized partisan culture wars—like RFRA—over the interests of Hoosiers, targeting our friends, neighbors and family members and costing Indiana’s economy millions.

In 2009, a 30-day supply of insulin was around $93. As of 2019, the average cost for a 30-day supply of insulin was $275. It’s astronomical, and I fought to cap the copay of insulin to make it more affordable for Hoosiers. Despite trying to make this life saving healthcare accessible, our Democratic amendment failed along party lines, because the supermajority doesn’t have to be responsive to constituents’ needs to remain in power.

Despite the parents of 93% of Indiana’s students choosing public schools, the supermajority continues to increase funding for vouchers for wealthy families. Public schools only received 83% of new funding, not on pace with teaching 93% of our kids. Yet, voucher schools received the highest percentage increase in new funding while educating only 4.5% of our students.

Republicans have refused to adopt popular policies that Hoosiers want, such as expanded universal background checks, which 83 percent of Hoosiers support. 

We have made no progress on marijuana reform even though a 2018 poll showed that 8 out of 10 Hoosiers support marijuana legalization for medicinal or recreational purposes.

Hoosiers working a full-time minimum wage job cannot afford a two bedroom apartment anywhere in our state, and the COVID-19 pandemic showed us just how many of our essential workers are low-wage earners. Still, calls for an increase to the minimum wage have been repeatedly dismissed whenever Democrats in the Legislature have sought progress—a clear disconnect with what the people actually want.

When residents want one thing and elected leaders instead pass bills on other issues, it’s a clear indication that their interests do not align. And when legislators disagree with their voters and refuse to deliver on progress, voters should have the power to instead elect legislators who will fight for their best interests.

Unfortunately, Indiana’s districts have purposely been designed to make it difficult for this to happen. Ten years ago, the Indiana Republican Party created an unbalanced system that favors their party’s interests above that of everyday Hoosiers.

The most concerning thing is that they are poised to do the same thing again this year. 

That is why we must take action to hold Republicans and their process accountable. Hoosiers can and should confront the supermajority on their extreme partisanship, which has done nothing but hold Indiana back. Further, we must talk about this process with our community, our neighbors and our family members—even ones who are happy with the way things are. They must learn how the deck is stacked against them and their families.

The more we talk about the unbalanced system Indiana Republicans have created for Hoosier families, the more we can stop being tired and start taking action. We all deserve a future with free, fair and competitive elections that lead to a more balanced government and better laws and outcomes for Hoosiers.

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