Hoosiers For Democracy

I’ve been getting intellectual whiplash looking for political omens.

Polls aren’t cutting it: as I have previously noted, contemporary obstacles to accurate measures of candidate strength are immense, and the various efforts to compensate for low response rates and to develop meaningful “likely voter” screens have proved inadequate. When Trump routinely underperforms his poll results by some ten points, it seems safe to ignore click-bait headlines about this or that poll.

I have also shared my conviction that victory in the upcoming elections will depend almost entirely on turnout. I don’t understand what get out the vote campaigns do to generate turnout, but then I don’t understand people who think political participation is irrelevant to their lives, so my lack of comprehension is probably due to that mystification…

All that said, despite living in Indiana– often dismissed as an irremediably deep-Red state– I’ve recently stumbled across some interesting and very positive omens.

One of those is Hoosiers for Democracy, a newly-formed group that describes itself as “a growing movement of Indiana citizens who are concerned about the erosion of democratic norms, the continual drumbeat of extremism and the persistent undermining of our democratic institutions.” I know the founders of the group, and I consider them informed and politically savvy. They’ve done their homework, and are focused on demonstrating that Indiana–even rural Indiana– is considerably less Red than the state’s reputation suggests. 

Hoosiers for Democracy publishes a thoughtful Substack newsletter, and is working with other grass-roots organizations–partisan and bipartisan– concerned about the GOP’s lurch into far-Right extremism. 

Relatively few Hoosiers have heard of Hoosiers for Democracy so far–it’s new, and just building its network. (I encourage Indiana readers to sign up for its very thoughtful newsletter at the link.) But more recently, I was astonished to discover the existence of several statewide organizations with a longer timeline. The Nasty Woman Project began as an Instagram account; it was born out of Trump’s expressions of fury in November 2016 and began a series of self portraits by self-proclaimed Nasty Women. Since then, it has grown into a women’s collective that “throws events, raises money for charity, makes waves, and puts smiles on people’s faces.” 

I was even more astonished to learn that the organization has more than seven thousand members across Indiana. (I was especially surprised because–according to my youngest son–I am a Nasty Woman. In the wake of the 2016 election, he even had a t-shirt that identified him as a “Bad Hombre raised by a Nasty Woman”…)

Indiana’s Nasty Women organization has a FaceBook page describing itself:

We are INDIANA NASTY WOMEN; because we believe in love, acceptance, equality, kindness, respect, and the POWER of our voices. Through this consortium of like-minded women, with an overall vision to do whatever we can to help transform Indiana into, at the very least, a purple state.

This will take different forms, including but not limited to: being dedicated to political activism… helping to create & support liberal and progressive political candidates into office at all levels (national, state, and local).

Educate fellow Hoosiers so they become more informed voters.

Increase the number of likeminded voters in Indiana.

I couldn’t help wondering how many other grass-roots political efforts might be underway and essentially underground, devoted to efforts to highlight the dangers of MAGA extremism and the capture of the Republican party apparatus by Christian Nationalists. I get a large number of political publications and thanks to being older than dirt and a lifetime Hoosier, I know a lot of people here in Indiana, yet I’d never heard of Indiana Nasty Women.

Nor, it turned out, had I heard of at least fifteen other Indiana organizations working to turn out the sanity vote.

In a recent meeting with progressive activists, I was astonished–and gratified–to learn of multiple Indiana organizations formed since 2016. They’re working to educate voters about issues like reproductive rights, voting rights and the threat MAGA poses to democracy.

Several were surprisingly large. Most are run entirely by volunteers, and they overwhelmingly focus on encouraging Hoosiers to vote for Democratic candidates– from Joe Biden and Jennifer McCormick on down the ballot.

I’d never heard of any of them.

Bottom line: I’ve seen data suggesting that MAGA’s strength in Indiana “tops out” at 37%. That’s a very worrisome percentage, but it isn’t a majority. Hoosiers for Democracy, Indiana Nasty Women and these numerous other voluntary, under-the-radar organizations are immensely hopeful omens, especially since several are mounting grass-roots campaigns to turn out Hoosier voters–especially Democratic-leaning voters with spotty voting records.

In November, Hoosiers might be able shed our reputation as a northern Mississippi– a state firmly in thrall to MAGA’s assorted bigotries. 


  1. I can’t find the link. Subscribed but can’t read it. I’ll keep looking

  2. I’ll remind you that Obama took Indiana in 2008 and Bernie Sanders won the 2016 primary. Indiana wants change.

  3. Excellent! Thank you for posting this very hopeful letter today. I will be joining and looking to support these grass-roots organization in Indiana!

    It seems like the national Democrat Party has written us off, and even the state party seems very ineffective, but these organizations may be just the ticket to change that. I have heard it said, probably here, that Indiana is a Purple state with a turnout problem. Maybe these organizations can remedy the learned helplessness that Hoosier Democrats suffer with.

  4. What are some of the other organizations that are working to turn out the vote?

  5. There is a large group of women active in Fort Wayne, called the WULPAC (Women United For Progress Allen County). The Facebook page has 4.6 thousand members. We are out there!

  6. Thank you, Sheila! I needed that. I’ve been feeling very guilty for moving to NY and not doing my part. Here’s hoping!

  7. Please provide the “missing link” and as much info as you have about the other groups. “Inquiring minds want to know.”

  8. To those of you asking for the names of these organizations: I didn’t take notes, but I have asked others in that meeting to supply that information.

  9. Wulpac, you were noted at the meeting! As was Nasty Women of Porter County. Both were cited for helping candidates on the primary ballot.

  10. Is there any chance that those groups could come together to match strengths with weaknesses? If they can blanket the state with coordinated actions, they can increase their power and change a lot of things.

  11. This is very good news that supports my gut feeling that there is a growing blue backlash to the MAGA movement. It raises some important questions. Are these many, grassroots organizations able to coordinate their efforts? Is Hoosiers for Democracy hoping to become the umbrella organization that pulls them all together? How much overlap in membership is there among the various organizations?

  12. One correction to your blog this morning should be made. Indiana is not the Mississippi of the North. Mississippi is the Indiana of the South.

  13. I signed up for the Hoosiers for Democracy newsletter. The Nasty Women Club tends to go private and has a local private group where I live. Good luck to them both.

    Someone mentioned that Indiana supported Bernie Sanders in 2016, and that was despite all the tricks played by Hillary Clinton and the DNC with their media outlets. Once all that was revealed, the DNC lost the youth vote and is stomping on their support once again. There is no progressive wing within the Democratic Party today. None. Even Kennedy lost the votes by supporting Israel in their genocide.

    As long as the national party screws the under-35-year-old crowd, these statewide GOTV organizations are fighting an uphill battle. It can’t be an accident, either. And it can’t be stupidity. It has to be intentional. SMDH

  14. One fact that seems to elude polling is that every time Trump lies (which is every time he speaks) he reinforces his base and makes more enemies. He ends up campaigning for both himself and Biden.

  15. Thank you Sheila for the shout out for Hoosiers For Democracy. We are indeed connecting with other movements and are working to amplify each others’ message and work. We are striving to build a network of democracy allies. Please spread the word and join the movement.

  16. The link did not work for me. I was happy to hear what I have long suspected. The demographics are changing and younger people are not buying the fear tactics as readily as their parents did. Rock On.

  17. I feel like, if Shelia Kennedy – plugged into politics, lifelong Hoosier – had never heard of these groups without searching for them, then they’re not doing a very good job of putting themselves out there/driving change. I’m not disrespecting their work/efforts/plans, but these groups clearly need some coordination and a better PR team. Indiana is a tough state for this work. I hope they figure out a winning formula ASAP.

    Also, I do hope that “a growing movement of Indiana citizens who are concerned about the erosion of democratic norms, the continual drumbeat of extremism and the persistent undermining of our democratic institutions.” doesn’t mean it ends up being all false equivalence “there are crazies on both sides, we’re the reasonable center!” arguments. I mean, there isn’t anything remotely MAGA -like on the left. I always hate the “both side are crazy!” thing and I hope they don’t try that road. It’s losing argument, guaranteed.

  18. These groups need local news coverage. Also youtube streaming. Facebook “chaiins” – in short – social media. Where is the “most MAGA” part of this state? I am always amazed that rural folks do not vote more Dem than Republican – I mean – how do rural folks benefit from vouchers or charter schools? Rural public schools are the center of the community. There is no transportation into the rural areas that will get you from one place to another or even to a city. Republicans nix public transit at every turn. Then what about medical facilities? How many rural folks are recipients of public benefits but fear socialism? I don’t get it. Pardon my stupidity

  19. It is great to find these uplifting groups. Having run a national one since 2017, I have observed the following:
    – They are in a way, “tribal”, in that the members were already going to vote and vote the right way anyway and so it feels good to know that you are with “others”
    – As noted, these groups do not coordinate much and especially do not coordinate in reaching the “largest party”, the turned off politics/uncommitted.
    – These groups tend to be educated, older and white and, therefore, not working to (or able to) effectively do peer-to-peer outreach to minorities and young people, the least likely to vote

  20. Lester. If you are not familiar with these local groups how do you know they tend to be educated, older and white? Might some of them not be organized around networks of young and/or minority groups?

  21. From today’s NYT

    Joe Perez is exactly the type of voter President Biden and former President Donald J. Trump are fighting over: A 22-year-old Hispanic man in Las Vegas who grew up leaning Republican, he also supports abortion rights and was turned off by the Capitol rioters on Jan. 6, 2021.

    But Mr. Perez — unenthusiastic about a Biden-Trump rematch, overwhelmed by the news and disillusioned by politics — is tuning out.

    “If you ask me right now what’s going on with, like, the presidential race, or the situation in Gaza or Ukraine or whatever, I don’t think I can answer,” said Mr. Perez, who supported Mr. Trump in 2020 and is intrigued by Robert F. Kennedy Jr. now. “I’m not trying to follow that anymore.”

    Instead, said Mr. Perez, a valet who hopes to become a firefighter, “I’m just going to have to roll with the punches, because I don’t think I’m going to make a difference.”

    In fact, people like him could be quite important.

  22. Great expose’ post today. It sort of confirms what I’ve thought for months: The women will save the nation from tyranny. Why? Because the white, privileged (and not-so-privileged) men simply cannot admit they’ve been conned or made a judgement error. Their delicate egos would suffer irreparably.

    Carry on, ladies. Your country needs you.

  23. It’s encouraging to hear of grassroots movements gaining steam against Maga. While Maga only represents about 37% of the state they have found ways to make themselves seem larger and more powerful than they are. Their use of bluster, spin and intimidation makes them present like they’re the only game in town that needs to be followed and cowed to. I think most Americans don’t cater to that kind of authoritarianism and will prove Maga a paper tiger this fall.

  24. I am an admin of the WUFPAC group (4600 women strong). Our mission is to get progressives elected – specifically women, people of color and LGBTQIA persons – through social activism. We got some press, including being labeled a “secret alliance” when it came to the caucus to fill the Fort Wayne Mayoral vacancy. Of the 98 precinct chairs who got to vote in the caucus, over 30 were members of the WUFPAC. We received some kickback related to actually doing what we did. Like, how dare you as a grassroots group do mission-aligned work – getting the first Black woman (Democrat) elected as mayor of Fort Wayne? But it worked in Allen County, Indiana.

  25. 37 out of every 100 voters represents a great deal of potential intimidation, particularly when the 37 are the most likely to be armed. It is no surprise that a lot of the other 63 are staying as undercover as possible in a false effort to stay “safe”. It doesn’t feel like very good odds when more than 1 of every 3 people around you is a potential enemy.

    But we do have to get the guts to take some risks, or the bad guys win by default!

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