For those just joining us: on March 26, 2015, Indiana Governor Mike Pence signed a variant of the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act intended for application at the state level, but the entire affair was conducted under, um, unique circumstances that have resulted in 90% of my Twitter feed turning into serious headlines and snarky generalizations alike that collectively amount to “INDIANA R STUPID HUUUUUUUUR!”
Pence fumbled his first attempt at damage control Sunday morning on live national TV, and even earned himself the attention of The Onion, which is never a sign of victory for your side. He and/or his speechwriters penned a second try that’s online now and scheduled for publication in Tuesday’s Wall Street Journal.
Early prediction, based on the excerpts I’ve seen: it won’t help.
Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard and the Indianapolis City-County Council aren’t sitting still for this. As numerous local and national corporations of impressive size and power express their outrage and economic threats, tonight the Republican Ballard and the mostly Democrat Council gathered before a standing-room-only crowd and voted to semi-cordially ask Pence and the Indiana General Assembly to, in so many words, KNOCK IT OFF. Several Republican members were on board with this.
In a Council of 28 members the resolution required more than fourteen votes to pass. Even before the vote, it had sixteen co-sponsors.
So we’re effectively looking at a schism between the state and capital city governments.
I’m sure Tuesday will bring more harsh words across borders, local as much as national. This story in progress is in no danger of closure anytime soon, though actual capital-P Progress would be nifty to see. Speaking of which, here’s the planned front page for Tuesday morning’s Indianapolis Star, our city’s own major metropolitan newspaper.
The entire front page.
Worth noting, in case you’re already working on your cookie-cutter knee-jerk reactions: the Star‘s staff aren’t all liberals. Opinions editor Tim Swarens, very much conservative, has been among those leading the hometown journalistic assault against Pence. Many other vocal public detractors have also been Republicans and conservatives of various faiths and commitment levels.
1. My wife and I were once in a photo with Greg Ballard. It was her insistent grandmother’s idea. He has no idea who I am. We still have the photo.
2. My wife and I once saw Mike Pence speak at a large-scale faith-based function several years ago. He seemed okay by us. We also once walked past his Congressional office in downtown Anderson back in 2011, but it was closed.
3. For multiple reasons that are no one’s business but mine and my wife’s, I’ve spent much of the past week in my mind storm-shelter. Suffice it to say for the moment I’m a voter who has no patience for our binary political system, who cannot believe how horridly out of control this has all gone, and who thinks this was a total misfire from draft one.
But I feel like I ought to contribute something to the discussion. So:
In the event that the talks and tensions between Indianapolis and Indiana escalate, part of me envisions a not-really-apocalyptic future where the two geographical entities finally call it quits and go their own ways so their respective leaders can rule how they like. Slight problem, though: if Indianapolis secedes, you can’t spell “Indianapolis” without “Indiana”. Some rebranding might be required.
To get the ball proactively rolling and save the Council some think-tank dollars later on, here’s a list of possible new names for the theoretical, newly independent city-state of ex-Indianapolis:
Gen Con Land
All-New All-Different Naptown
Carmel (Ballard should just usurp the name by besting Carmel Mayor Jim Brainerd in open combat)
Mighty Mighty Midwest
the Artists Formerly Known as Indianapolis
Bacon: the City
Hope that helps! Let me know if I can help write our new tourism slogans.