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Mar 12, 2024

It can be tough to be a minority of any kind. We talk about that toughness in cultural terms regularly in America. Whether it is a minority religion, gender or race, being outnumbered is rarely meaningless or easy.

Senate Democrats in Indiana would love to be in that standard minority. Their minority isn’t standard though, it’s “super.” Being in a simple minority would feel like a luxury, like upgrading to first class on a flight, or into a high-roller suite in the penthouse of a resort on the Vegas strip. Life in the super-minority is viewed as a thankless, and often times, even a valueless endeavor. The caucus is often described as one that doesn’t matter at all.

Those descriptions are incorrect. And there are receipts to prove it.

Sen. Andrea Hunley is my senator. I vividly remember her first campaign for the seat in 2022. Why? Because when I was listening to her speak to a small group of people that spring, I was overcome with the thought, “she’s too good for that place and being there is going to drive her nuts.” I stand by the first point but was dead wrong about the second. 

On March 5th, I accidentally caught Hunley in action. While speaking on the Senate floor on House Bill 1093, a bill to relax child labor laws, she delivered a speech worthy of a title. I would title it with the question she asked from the start. She said, “Who stands to benefit? I know for certain it’s not our kids…When I first ran for office, I ran because of children. I ran because of my work with them.” She was a teacher and principal for twenty years, most recently at the Center for Inquiry in my neighborhood.

The majority ignored her questions and concerns and passed the bill on a party line vote. This was the kind of thing I was predicting for her two years ago. She was destined to be on the right side of policies only to be outvoted by a majority that runs like a zombie experiencing a shortage of brains to eat. But Hunley marches on, undeterred by her lopsided surroundings.

Senator Shelli Yoder was elected two years earlier in 2020. She represents Bloomington and is an award-winning educator at the Kelley School of Business at Indiana University, where I also teach. She primarily teaches freshmen, and I now teach sophomores, some who have been taught by her, so I can personally vouch for her excellence in the classroom.


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