Conservative leadership has failed to generate demographic and economic success in the state of Indiana.
The Hoosier state has had Republican governors since Mitch Daniels was elected to office in 2004 and GOP majorities in both houses of the legislature since 2011.
“When Daniels was elected, Indiana’s per capita disposable income was only 90.5 percent of the U.S. average,” Renn notes in his article. “The governor’s top priority was raising the state’s lagging incomes; indeed, Daniels said his administration’s ‘central objective was to raise the disposable income of Hoosiers.'”
That effort failed, says Renn, and Republican leadership in the state has failed to turn the tide.
When Indiana “became a Republican trifecta state, its average disposable income had actually declined to 89.5 percent of the national level,” says Renn. “By 2019 (pre-pandemic), it had fallen slightly to only 89.4 percent, and during the pandemic, it dropped to 88.7 percent in 2020.”
Rather than a purely Republican failure, Renn says the state’s underperformance “should be seen in the context of regional decline.”
“The entire region that can be called the ‘Old North,'” says Renn, “a twenty-three-state area including the Great Plains, the Midwest, and the Northeast, has experienced similar struggles for decades, regardless of the party in power or the policy model pursued. Growth and prosperity appear to be more dependent on external or macro factors than most politicians of either party would like to admit.”
The solution to Indiana’s economic challenges, according to Renn, is “a modified strategy” in red states that “directly serves the preferences and aspirations of their voters rather than pursuing indirect strategies like chasing after business investment. ”
This means Republican politicians need to start caring more about their voters’ priorities, says Renn.
“This is particularly important today, when most of our major institutions have fallen under the sway of progressive orthodoxy, leaving Republican state governments as one of the few powerful institutions remaining that can stand up for conservative citizens.”
Aaron Renn joined the Mock n’ Rob Show Monday for a deeper discussion about the economic challenges Indiana conservative leaders need to address. Click below to listen.