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Apr 2, 2024

In the 1987 film, “Wall Street,” Gordon Gecko famously said, “If you’re not inside, you are outside, okay.” I was impressionable as a young undergraduate when I saw it in the theater that year. Since then, I have firmly believed decisions were only made by the people present in the exclusive room where the next important thing was going to happen.

I still do. Whether the organization is in the world of government or business, entertainment, or athletics, it’s my view that the best leaders are insiders.

So, why do so many political campaigns spend so much energy attempting to create the image that their candidate is an “outsider?” The perceived value of it is a mystery.

First of all, let’s be clear. None of the top candidates for Indiana governor are outsiders. The mere suggestion by any of them is nothing but a ruse. Complicating the weirdness further, being from the outside of government, politics or both, has no value for this specific job, either. 

The Office of the Governor in Indiana is structurally weak. Constitutionally, the simple majority to override a veto has made it such throughout history. In 2024 though, the entrenched super-majorities in the legislature have made it even weaker. Not since Mitch Daniels left office twelve years ago has the office been occupied by the unequivocal leader of the party.

None of those running this year will change that. There is no movement growing behind any of them. One of them will prevail in the primary and appear on the ballot this fall, but whoever is inaugurated in January will still be taking orders from the gerrymandered power base on the third floor of the Statehouse. The lack of any energy behind any big idea practically seals that deal.

There really is only one policy proposal that has risen above the harmonious nothingness of this primary battle, and that is Lt. Governor Suzanne Crouch’s pitch to eliminate the state’s income tax. But because the details on how to accomplish it are undeveloped, this innovative idea feels a lot like the campaign promise of a sixth-grade class president candidate promising to end homework. Ironically, this pie-in-the-sky offering comes from the candidate least likely to be called an outsider. Go figure.

 

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