DOUG ROSS: Republicans taking big gambles in Indiana, D.C.

2013-10-04T00:00:00Z 2013-10-17T01:02:12Z DOUG ROSS: Republicans taking big gambles in Indiana, D.C.Doug Ross doug.ross@nwi.com, (219) 548-4360 or (219) 933-3357 nwitimes.com

Republicans are conservative, right? So why are they taking such big political risks in Congress and the Indiana Statehouse?

Democrats in Congress, as well as in the White House, see Obamacare as a moral imperative, providing health care for the previously uninsured.

Republicans, of course, see Obamacare as bankrupting the nation (worse than it already is) and putting the nation's economy at risk.

As a result, the economy is being put at risk by shutting down the federal government. Go figure.

The polls show more Americans blame the Republicans than Democrats for this fiscal showdown. House Republicans' strident stance might help them survive Tea Party challenges in next spring's primary election, but it puts them at bigger risk in the general election.

If this is still fresh in Americans' minds a year from now, House Republicans in competitive districts could take a beating in the general election.

Now let's look at the Republican effort to enact a constitutional prohibition against same-sex marriage and civil unions in Indiana. Republicans who support this effort might do well in the primary election, but watch out come time for the general election.

The demographics are against the Republicans on this issue. Young people are much more likely to be tolerant toward same-sex relationships, and that tolerance continues as those people get older.

The waning influence of organized religion on this group is likely a factor, but also the familiarity with gay friends and family that openness about human sexuality has brought.

You can argue about family values or civil rights on the issue of same-sex marriages all you want — probably you already are — but I'm focusing on the political ramifications today.

Republicans should look at who is leading the charge against the constitutional amendment. It's Freedom Indiana, a coalition of nonprofits and businesses led by Republican activist and Portage native Megan Robertson.

Yes, she's a Republican.

"For me as a conservative Republican, it doesn't make sense to put social policy into the Constitution at all," Robertson said. Think about that.

Robertson is concerned about what the Republican lawmakers' push for this constitutional amendment will mean for her party in the 2014 general election.

At an initial call-out rally for volunteers in Indianapolis, 185 people showed up. She hasn't seen that many show up at one site before, even for a gubernatorial campaign, she said.

What Republican lawmakers should learn from this is young voters will show up in droves in the general election if the General Assembly once again approves House Joint Resolution 6, setting the stage for a referendum in November 2014.

That could cost Republicans some seats in the Indiana House. It also could make a difference in congressional elections if young voters see what's happening in Indiana and are offended by it.

Which brings us back to my original question today: If Republicans are conservative, why are they taking these big political risks?

Editorial Page Editor Doug Ross can be reached at (219) 548-4360 or (219) 933-3357 or Doug.Ross@nwi.com. Follow him at www.facebook.com/doug.ross1 and on Twitter @nwi_DougRoss. The opinions are the writer's.

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