DOUG ROSS: A Democrat who sounds almost Republican

2013-03-29T00:00:00Z DOUG ROSS: A Democrat who sounds almost RepublicanBy Doug Ross, (219) 548-4360 or (219) 933-3357

It makes sense that Lake County Democratic Party Chairman Thomas McDermott Jr., of all people, would be a strident liberal, eagerly embracing the party line on every issue. After all, Lake County is one of the most heavily Democratic counties in Indiana.

And the uncivil war between the Democrats and Republicans makes it sound as if the two sides are worlds apart.

But in some ways McDermott sounds almost Republican. I couldn't help thinking about that when we talked on Tuesday. McDermott noticed it, too.

When we recorded this week's Political Roundtable, I asked McDermott about school vouchers, after the Indiana Supreme Court upheld the far-reaching law.

Everyone knows Democrats hate school vouchers because of their effect on traditional public schools.

Indiana Superintendent of Public Instruction Glenda Ritz, one of the Democratic stars of last year's election, was propelled to office in part because of her stance against vouchers. She was originally involved in that court fight but withdrew because winning the election meant swearing to uphold all Indiana laws.

So it was surprising to hear Lake County's top Democrat say this week, "I happen to be a fan of the vouchers." McDermott's reasoning makes sense, though.

McDermott is mayor of Hammond, a city fighting to stabilize and regrow its population. And schools, as we all know, are a primary consideration in determining where we want to live. Parents want a good education for their children.

Vouchers make private schools affordable for more parents, so they allow parents more choices in where to send their children to school — especially in Hammond, which has some good private schools.

The College Bound program McDermott started is aimed at convincing parents to live in Hammond. McDermott hopes to wean that program off casino revenue and fund it with water revenues, to make the program more stable.

But what good is College Bound if the students aren't well prepared for college when they graduate from high school? So McDermott's stance on vouchers makes sense.

"I know that doesn't sound very Democratic, because most of the people in my party don't support the voucher system, but I'm mayor, and mayors have to deal with real-life issues," McDermott said. "And I can tell you that in Hammond and in Northwest Indiana, the urban communities are losing population. And we've got to stop that bleeding, or else we're in trouble."

It's good to hear a politician display pragmatism and not just ideology. It would be good to see that in the nation's capital as well.

I can dream, can't I?

Editorial Page Editor Doug Ross can be reached at (219) 548-4360 or (219) 933-3357 or Follow him at and on Twitter @nwi_DougRoss. The opinion expressed in this column is the writer's and not necessarily that of The Times.

Copyright 2015 All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Follow The Times

Featured Businesses

Submit a Letter to Editor

We welcome letters from readers on any issue of public interest, and make every effort to publish as many as we can and in a timely manner. The Times will publish only one letter a month from a writer, and be sure to include your name, address and a telephone number for verification. Letters should be 150 words or less. They will be edited.

Letters may be submitted:
  • Via our submission form.
  • Via e-mail.
  • Via fax: (219) 933-3249 or (219) 465-7298
  • Via mail or by hand to our offices:
    • 601 45th Ave., Munster, IN 46321
    • 2080 N. Main St., Crown Point, IN 46307
    • 1111 Glendale Blvd., Valparaiso, IN 46383
    • 3410 Delta Dr., Portage, IN 46368
    • Please mark envelopes with "Attn: Letters"


Email Editorial Page Editor Doug Ross or call (219) 548-4360 or (219) 933-3357



Have you visited Indiana Dunes State Park in the past year?

View Results