Rokita Again

I really try to ignore Indiana’s Attorney General, Todd Rokita, and his pathetically obvious ploys for attention–part of his persistent effort to position himself for a gubernatorial run. But it’s hard.

I have previously posted about his (mis)behavior as a Congressperson, about his improper private employment while holding elective office, and about episodes in his constant pandering to the GOP’s right wing. I’ve ignored his anti-vaccine rants, since I really thought  my previous posts would be enough to give readers an accurate picture of this sorry little man.

But he continues to bait me….

Rokita has evidently watched the recent governor’s race in Virginia, and is trying to adopt a strategy that worked for Glenn Youngkin, the Republican who won that contest. Youngkin, as you may recall, made Critical Race Theory and “inappropriate books” (i.e., written by Black people) a centerpiece of his successful campaign. Rokita–who never met a dog-whistle he didn’t like–immediately latched on.

As an article in the Northwest Indiana Times reported:

Attorney General Todd Rokita is taking his unprovoked battle with Indiana’s local school boards and the state education establishment to the next level.

The Republican, originally from Munster, recently issued a second, expanded edition of his “Parents’ Bill of Rights” that in 54 pages goes well beyond his initial 16-page screed over Critical Race Theory (CRT) and other “Marxist ideologies” that he originally claimed are “consistently being backdoored into Indiana classrooms.”

Rokita’s new handbook practically is a call to arms for Hoosier parents to swarm school board meetings, school administrator offices, teacher classrooms and the Indiana Statehouse demanding answers about everything their child may potentially encounter in a school building on any given day.

You may wonder–as I do–why the Attorney General is sticking his nose in an arena that is very clearly under the jurisdiction of Indiana’s Department of Education, especially since Indiana citizens no longer choose the head of that department. (When a prior, elected Secretary of Education proved unwilling to follow the party line down various rabbit-holes, the post was made appointive; presumably, occupants of the position are now more obedient.) But then, as my previous posts have demonstrated, Rokita consistently shows little or no interest in the enumerated duties of the Attorney General’s office unless those duties offer him a PR opportunity.

In this latest screed, he writes

“Having your child’s school and its employees work against you as you raise your family according to your Hoosier values shouldn’t be allowed.”

And what are those “Hoosier values”? Whatever they are, they are evidently under attack. Rokita enumerates a series of GOP wedge issues that parents should be particularly be concerned about because–or so he tells them– they have a “polarizing effect on education instruction.”

Those “polarizing” topics include: Critical Race Theory, Critical Theory, Critical Gender Theory, “Teaching for Tolerance,” “Learning for Justice” and gender fluidity.

Rokita also observes that, unlike other states, Hoosier lawmakers have not taken steps to prohibit instruction on these topics in Indiana classrooms, and he reminds parents they have a right to petition the Republican-controlled General Assembly to take such action….

Rokita’s guide also delves into the rights of parents to make health care decisions on behalf of their minor children, advises parents how to complain about school face mask requirements amid the COVID-19 pandemic and discusses the abstinence-only foundation of Indiana’s human sexuality instruction.

“It should be noted that schools are prohibited from asking students about their gender identity or sexual behaviors or attitudes in sex education classes, or any other classes,” Rokita said.

The entire “Parents Bill of Rights” is a “look at me–I’m with you” message to the angry and misinformed parents who have descended on school board meetings to demand a curriculum with which they can feel comfortable. I will refrain from characterizing their desired curriculum, except to note that historical accuracy and civics education–especially study of the First and Fourteenth Amendments (Separation of Church and State and the Equal Protection clause)– are not what they are demanding.

If we’re looking for the causes of “polarization,” we need look no farther than Rokita, the lawmakers who agree with him, and the parents that they and the other Republican culture warriors are gleefully manipulating.

I would love to believe that the transparency of Rokita’s pandering, along with his other off-putting behaviors, will repel Indiana voters and dash his gubernatorial ambitions. He is, after all, held in considerable disdain among Hoosier politicos– very much including Republican ones.

But this is Indiana.


  1. I don’t live in Indiana, but this blog today captures all that the Republican party is and tries to do. They have NO intention of governing for the people. It’s just money and power. They want to control the money for their donors and themselves. “Sorry little man” encompasses ALL GOP politicians who trot out the wedge issue B.S. that the radicals have become adept at promoting.

    This is, once again, the 25% of the morons trying to influence, control and then ignore, the majority of people whether they vote or not.


  2. I once had respect for Todd ( prior to 2016) but he proved in 2018 his sycophancy to Trumpism knows no limits. Most in the GOP think I have lost my mind because I refuse to join their cult. I can sleep at night . Not sure I can say the same for some of them.

  3. He’s not pandering to the right wing of the GOP, nor is that wing “right”. Pandering implies that he’s fanning flames of rage but from the outside. Instead of a wing, it’s actually the nihilist core of the GOP (which I call the GQP) and he’s a key player in that rotting core.

    But the more insidious aspect of his 54-page screed (which reminds me of the two-page set of instructions he wrote for his driver when he was in Congress) doesn’t really have to do with CRT. It has to do with enraging parents to take action to deconstruct public education as we know it….and that means disassembling public schools. Instead parents would be provided with education spending account debit cards (ESA’s) they can use to spend anyway they see fit to fulfill their children’s education needs. It’s a consumer-supplier free-market model where the governments only role is to provide every parent with the same funding (this works SO well in our national health care system). In their view public schools are a socialist experiment gone terribly wrong and must be dismantled. They’re not wrong about it being a socialist is…the people, through its school districts, actually own the means of production. What they’re wrong about is that it’s an experiment gone wrong. Historically it was trail-blazing and successful beyond calculations. But like any institution involving people, it’s not perfect.

    The GQP (the rotten core) is doubling down on this narrative because their efforts over the last 20 years have not achieved much, if anything, in the way of improvements in positive educational outcomes. All it has done is turn public education into a complex three-headed monster of traditional public schools, charter and cyber-charter schools and private schools that accept state vouchers, also known as choice scholarships. It was supposed to save money through innovation and the use of educational technology but it has in fact become more expensive than ever.

    Keep your eye on the real prize and not the circus clown who happens to be in the ring.

  4. A guy like that should be eminently beatable by any reasonable candidate in any election. The question is, will the Dems give you a decent choice or will they bring John Gregg back to fail once again?

  5. The average parent reports reading 4 books a year. Most parents report total negligence when it comes to actually taking a good course on parenting. Early childhood reading? Zip! Then there is the matter of subjects: history, government, psychology, etc. parents can’t teach and ought not dictate to professions how the job should be accomplished.

  6. Rokita is squaring off against Jim Banks for the 2012 gubernatorial nomination. (My prediction.) They’re trying to out Trump each other.

    But coming across as very Trumpy could be a mistake. 2024 should be a bounce back year for the Dems. (I think 2022 is pretty hopeless, particularly in the House.) An extreme Trump gubernatorial candidate should be very vulnerable in 2024. The GOP statewide margins have been shrinking in the age of Trump. Dems need to have a strong nominee though and that’s been a problem in recent years. Woody Myers anyone?

  7. Beware of the “little man.” Hitler was a little man and Mussolini was a little (if overweight) man. It is not a matter of physique but the ability of little men to influence the masses with their mania and grievances both real and imagined that we need resist. Patrick has an interesting take on the problem with his contribution today in macro terms, as in, Rokita’s fluff and manufactured issues would fall on deaf ears if we didn’t have a welcoming party of power seekers deaf to the real issues of the day in favor of fascist responses to such manufactured issues of the day. Trouble is, Virginia proves that the combination of hate, racism and such manufactured issues as school board overreach work.

    What to do when one is dealing not with rational but rather emotional people who will remain unconvinced of any virtue in governing if proposed by “socialist” Democrats. Perhaps the Democratic national committee should employ some advisers such as sociologists and psychiatrists as well as poll watchers to our election teams whether municipal, state or federal, or even for school boards. Personally, I find it difficult to deal with emotional people without becoming emotional myself, the result of which is that nothing is accomplished, proving that any such attempt for my reaching out to the Rokitas of today is beyond my pay grade. Sociologists, anybody?

  8. Desperate Republicans are using desperate tactics against all Americans to enhance culture wars to their advantage all in an attempt to legitimize Trump and his authoritarian self-centeredness.

    History will record whether they are successful at the expense of the Republic or fail at the expense of their party.

  9. Has Rokita killed a pedestrian while driving/texting and a short while later get caught speeding nd failing to produce his drivers license? Like South Duhkota’s AG, who is also a Lt Colonel in the National Guard up for promotion to full bird colonel?

  10. That this guy won the AG race is proof that the voters of Indiana are too stupid to survive.

    It’s been a long time since I thought of “Hoosier Hospitality” as anything but a bitterly sarcastic assessment.

  11. Rokita’s ignorance is extremely dangerous. They don’t teach CRT in elementary and high schools!!! An AG should NOT foment violence at school board hearings. If he really wanted to do his job instead of supporting his ego by fomenting division, he would look at protecting kids from mass shootings and support anti-bullying campaigns.

    Teachers and parents need to collaborate to ensure safety of the kids and a good education. I was lucky in that my parents always supported the teachers. I had a unified front. I had no motivation to act out in school. I did experience being called names at times but no physical violence. It just was NOT tolerated. We even had a dress code that was enforced.

    God help us all if and when Rokita seeks to become Governor. I prefer moderate GOP members to the far right and those who are part of the Trumpist cult.

  12. God help us is correct. Do we know intellectually what CRT is? It is written about by several authors. But what are the main authors saying CRT is.
    Here is a discussion from a couple of people with doctorates trying to shed light on CRT, how far reaching it is, and what does it encompass?
    Watch this discussion and follow up.

  13. This is just as bad as Eastern Kentucky, a place filled with ignorant hate mongers. BTW this is just one more example of why I believe democracy in the US is under attack and will most likely fail. That’s not what I want to happen, but what I believe will happen. The tRumps, Grahams and McTurtles have taken over the R party and turned it into a cesspool of hate and ignorance the same way Page Patterson & his minions took over the Southern Baptist CULT.

  14. My humblest apologies for the extremely, massive incomprehensible boo boo I made pertaining to Lee Hamilton’s political partyship. I have no idea what my memory was thinking.

  15. Rokita should stick to his job and leave teaching to those who have the qualifications. He has filed so many STUPID lawsuits that has cost the taxpayers money.

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