As I’ve been following Indiana’s races for both the Statehouse and the U.S. Senate, I’ve come to realize that what passes for “the Left” in the Hoosier state has a lot in common with the more liberal Republicanism of my younger days. For example, when the GOP was still a political party and not a cult, I was a member of “Republicans for Choice”–along with lots of other Republicans.
Another good example is my friend Trish Whitcomb’s campaign for Indiana House District 69.
Trish’s father was former Indiana Governor Ed Whitcomb. Governor Whitcomb–then a traditional Republican– championed the environment, childcare, and increased federal funding for education. Trish shares those values–I first met her when we were both focused on the health of public education in Indiana–but today’s GOP has abandoned all of them, so Trish is a Democrat.
And her campaign–like that of Marc Carmichael, who is running for U.S. Senate–pits her against a wack-a-doodle Republican. In Carmichael’s case, it’s “god squad” Jim Banks; in Trish’s case it is “armed at all times” Jim Lucas.
Lucas has been in the news a lot lately. A few weeks ago, it was for drunk driving; this week it was for flashing his holstered handgun at students who were visiting the Statehouse seeking legislative action to curb gun violence.
When contacted by TheStatehouseFile.com later and told the students were threatened by him flashing a gun, Lucas shrugged off the incident. He said he was “simply showing an inanimate object” in order to prove a point about guns.
Lucas has a well-earned reputation as the legislature’s most rabid “gun nut”–he routinely introduces and sponsors bills further weakening restrictions on firearms, and is on record advocating arming teachers. He shrugs off the concerns of law enforcement, insisting (along with the NRA) that personal safety can only be secured by “good guys” with guns. In 2022, he suggested the Uvalde school shooting might be a false flag to take away Americans’ gun rights.
During the confrontation with the students, he mischaracterized a Supreme Court ruling, insisting that the Court had decided police have no obligation to protect them.
The conversation included a back-and-forth between Lucas and the students. Lucas told the students the police are not obligated to protect them so they needed to be prepared to protect themselves. He brushed off the students’ comments about the impact of school shootings on their lives, saying no law is going to fix gun violence.
It isn’t simply his love affair with guns. Lucas’ Facebook page has been a scandal for years. As a columnist for the Indianapolis Star put it back in 2022,
Call me naïve, but there was a time when I believed maturity came with age and with certain positions came a sense of decorum and standards of behavior.
Well, I’ve learned this is not the case: Maturity and age aren’t synonymous, and just because you’re in an esteemed position doesn’t mean you act accordingly.
That brings me to Rep. Jim Lucas, R-Seymour, who I’m convinced is stuck in adolescence. How else can you explain his continual sophomoric behavior?
Lucas has a long list of controversial posts, which I’ll get to later, but his latest gaffe had him backtracking on Facebook, trying to explain why he made such a post. Lucas used a quote possibly erroneously attributed to Joseph Goebbels — a Nazi. But not just any Nazi. Goebbels was the minister of propaganda. He and his wife poisoned their children and killed themselves.
The column went on to list other Lucas posts: one of a woman in a car trunk, posing the question of whether your wife or dog loves you more, and several making light of violence against women; a photo of a gallows with two rope nooses together with an article about a Black man who had pleaded guilty to rape; a photo of Black children dancing along with the words “We gon’ get free money!”
In fact, Lucas’ Facebook page has long been a cesspool of racist and misogynist posts and comments. The Star column pointed out that, in 2021, when Black legislators shared their experiences with racism, “Lucas decided he didn’t have to listen and walked out.”
The news media do a real disservice by labeling people like Banks and Lucas “conservative.” The party that used to be home for genuine conservatives had a platform; it offered policy ideas. You might agree or disagree with those ideas, but they fostered the kind of debate and negotiation that made legislation better. It is unfair to genuine conservatives (who today are largely “Never Trump” ex-Republicans) to call a collection of rightwing clowns, wack-a-doodles, and proto-fascists “conservative.”
Visit Trish Whitcomb’s website and send her some money. And while you’re at it, send some to Marc Carmichael.