Republican Party and Indiana's Political Legacy
As the Republican Party prepares to select a candidate they feel can beat President Obama in 2012, they have several viable candidates in mind. One is Governor Mitch Daniels of Indiana. Gov. Daniels was lauded for his speech at the CPAC (Conservative Political Action Committee) in Washington D.C. last month. Which was heavy on dire talk about the state of the economy. He won kudos from conservative stalwarts such as George Will. When asked if he was considering a run for the presidency in 2012 on Meet the Press, he responded with, “I’ve agreed to consider it.”
Before we get all whipped up in frenzy about Gov. Mitch Daniels and his potential bid for 2012, let’s explore Indiana’s political legacy, one I’m sure they would like to forget. Most people outside of Indiana are probably unaware of Indiana’s colorful political past.
When one thinks of the Ku Klux Klan, you think of the deep south. The Ku Klux Klan has been America’s most dangerous and long standing domestic terrorist group. During the period immediately following World War I, The Ku Klux Klan rose to prominence in Indiana Politics and society. It was made up of native-born, white protestants of many income and social levels.
During the 1920’s, it was believed that Indiana had the most powerful Ku Klux Klan organization in the entire United States! Though it counted a high number of members state wide, it’s importance peaked in the 1924 election of Edward Jackson for governor.
Ironically, African-Americans weren’t their number one target, it was Catholics. Not to say blacks were not on their hit list; they most certainly were. The Klan was popular in Indiana because of the belief that the Klan stood for law and order and high morals.
After World War I, there were large number of immigrants arriving from eastern and southern Europe, many who were mostly Catholic. This helped catapult the Ku Klux Klan to prominence under the leadership of Grand Dragon D.C. Stephenson, who lead the Klan to break away from the national organization in 1923. The organization reached it’s highest point of power during the years that followed, and by 1925 over half the members of the Indiana General Assembly, the Governor of Indiana, and many high ranking members of the government were all members of the Klan! That’s really hard to fathom in this day and time, it’s true nonetheless.Continued on the next page