When Indiana’s 5th district Congressman Dan Burton retired in 2012 after serving 15 terms, Susan Brooks, a then center right candidate, won the race to succeed him. I was one of the people who voted for her. But, with the Republican Party’s recent shift further to the right, Susan Brooks has shifted right along with it. Are the majority of 5th district voters as far right-wing as Ms. Brooks is now? For the first time in decades, a full slate of Democrats is stepping up to give us a real choice.
The 5th district’s suburban populations are growing rapidly and centrist voters, many with advanced degrees, are changing the political landscape. These voters embrace information, scientific fact and best practices. Their professional jobs require it. Naturally, they hope for the same in their government representatives. Yet, Susan Brooks’ website says she is opposed to any ban on assault weapons and is silent on the need for common sense solutions to mass shootings. She also touts her endorsement by the Indiana Right to Life organization, which has long argued against women having access to contraceptives for family planning using unproven data to blur the line between abortion and contraceptives. Both of these extreme positions are at odds with the majority of educated voters who do not wish to have dangerous and poorly informed policies forced on them and their families. Don’t look for policy initiatives on climate change on Ms. Brooks’ website, either – she has shown no desire to anger those who make their wealth from the fossil fuel industry.
Moderate voters on both the right and left need to make their preferences known to get the representation that reflects their views on these and other complex issues. Voter turnout in primary elections is historically low and threatens the quality of our representation and leadership.
Fifth district voters also deserve to trust that their representatives will not collude with officials of any administration to insulate them from the criminal justice system. Several months ago, I contacted Ms. Brooks’ office regarding my opposition to the current administration’s graft, conflicts of interest and possible criminal financial transactions, including money laundering. I expected her to support ethical and transparent standards, starting with the release of the president’s tax filings. Her office’s response was disturbing and inadequate. It suggested a tribal and highly partisan loyalty, without regard to the public’s safety and need for transparent and honest government. Blowing off my concerns, she responded, “I look forward to working with President Trump and his administration as he continues to share his ideas for the direction of our country with the American people.” Ironically, one the ideas she claimed to look forward to working on was a balanced budget.
If and when Special Prosecutor Mueller’s investigation reveals evidence of criminal activity in the Trump Administration, will we be able to count on Ms. Brooks, who has refused to hold town hall meetings since the 2016 election, to have the political courage to do the right thing? By voting thoughtfully in the primary and midterm elections, you can show her that it matters.