Although far less publicized than the Wisconsin Democrat Temper-Tantrum, Indiana State Dems have staged a walkout that far exceeded the Wisconsin walkout both in terms of time wasted and ultimate futility. Last night, the Indiana Democrats staged an ignominious return in which they were forced to explain why they accomplished absolutely nothing after wasting half a million dollars in taxpayer money.
See, unlike in Wisconsin, when the Dems left town, the Republicans took the opportunity to shelve the right-to-work legislation (the stated reason for the Great Democrat Flight) and get down to passing the rest of their legislative agenda sans Democrats, including the budget (balanced) and redistricting. As the Indianapolis Star put it:
For five weeks, Democrats in the Indiana House based their ill-conceived walkout on the sentimental and self-serving premise that by holing up in a Central Illinois hotel they were somehow standing in solidarity with working-class Hoosiers. That claim might have had more credibility if House Democrats had returned to the Statehouse a month ago, right after Republicans pulled right-to-work legislation off the table.
But the extended boycott, with no recent victories of substance, has served only to further undermine the wayward Democrats' relevance in the Statehouse. Republicans, after giving up on Democrats' imminent return, moved forward with the budget bill and other legislative priorities. The message from the GOP's leadership was clear, and largely accurate: We don't really need the minority party to push ahead with the people's work.
Well, the Democrats are now back, and they are more unpopular than ever. And they are in the unenviable position of having to explain to the voters why, in these economically troubled times, with Hoosiers everywhere fighting for their jobs, the Indiana taxpayers had to foot the massive bill for their out-of-state jaunt, with absolutely nothing to show for it in return. In this fight, the IN GOP has scored a near-total victory.