Even when I strongly disagree with the politics of elected officials (and I have been critical of Governor Mike Pence), I try to avoid the hyperbole of labelling someone a dictator. Still, you have to wonder if our Governor realizes the optics of what he’s been doing lately. First he tries to start a state-run news agency (maybe), and now, he’s all but gotten his way in subverting the democratic process.
You’ve probably seen the stories in the papers: ever since Glenda Ritz was elected State superintendent of Public Instruction over charter school golden boy Tony Bennett (who, by the way, was suspected of illegal activity) in 2012, the Governor and Republican state legislature have clashed with her at almost every turn.
Policy isn’t what really matters at this point, however. What matters is that last week, both the House and Senate voted in slightly different measures to have Ritz, for whom the people of Indiana voted and elected, removed from office. Nothing’s official yet, but it bodes not well for her.
That very idea should alarm anyone regardless of political affiliation, for it is blatantly and unequivocally taking the power of the vote out of the people’s hands.
If President Obama tried to remove someone from power like this, the outcry would be deafening. And unlike the many overblown and ridiculous claims made against the President, his critics would be absolutely in the right. The same goes for any President, or for that matter, any elected official.
If there’s a silver lining to any of this, it’s that people do appear to be upset about it. From personal letters to the editor pages of local newspapers to social media, supporters for Ritz have come out in droves, including many Republicans. Considering how both houses have voted her out, though, and the fact that the Governor apparently is blind to his image among the electorate, Ritz’s fate might be sealed.
It’s widely agreed that Pence wants to run for President, and speculation is that his supreme support of private education is meant to impress the Republican base (and big money donors). Hopefully—if, in fact, Ritz is removed, and Pence does run in 2016—the people look at his record of undermining the vote and don’t give him theirs in the primaries, let alone the election. But I’m pessimistic.