On April 22, the same day when he was brought down in Pennsylvania by Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama was received as a rock opera star in the stadium of Evansville, Indiana.
The show must go on, and Obama had already reported in at the next battle field. Indiana, which has 62 delegates to give away, holds the Democratic primaries on May 6–the same day as in North Carolina.
Let’s be honest, Indiana is not the most exciting state of the Union. Far from it. If you don’t need to be there, there is nothing to be found there. The capital, Indianapolis, enjoys certain fame because of the auto race that bears its name. Then there is Notre Dame, a famous Catholic University.
Across from the football stadium—Notre Dame always delivers excellent sport events—rises a huge image of Christ. The state has only once delivered a president, Benjamin Harrison (1889-1893) who definitely did not leave a big impression behind.
Indiana, this should not come as a surprise, means the land of the Indians—the tribe of the Shawnee Indians. The first European who crossed the region in 1679, was a French nobleman, Robert Cavalier Sieur de la Salle. Abraham Lincoln was 7 years old when his family settled there because slavery, which his parents abhorred , was not permitted in Indiana.
One hundred years ago, Indiana became the first state in the world where the authorities were empowered to sterilize people who were found to be unfit to have children. Some of those laws remained in force until 1974.
Indiana must rely today mainly on its somewhat outdated steel industry as well as on its agriculture. The state is thus part of the Rust Belt and part of the Corn Belt.
Indiana places so far behind in the primaries calendar, that usually the Democratic presidential nominee has long been known by the time the “Hoosiers” (nickname for the residents of Indiana, after the poem “the Hoosier’s Nest) can cast their votes. There was one exception, in 1968, when Indiana really counted. Senator Robert Kennedy won that state on May 7. That gave him wings for his subsequent victory in California.
Unlike Pennsylvania, the Democratic primaries in Indiana are open. That means that Republicans and Independents, as long as they are registered to vote, don’t have to be a member of the Democratic Party to be able to vote. In other primaries, earlier this year, this open nature has consistently played in favor o f Barack Obama.
While Indiana has produced only one president, the Hoosiers have done much better in the vice-presidents category where they delivered 5. The last one was Dan Quayle, a Senator who looked like Robert Redford but who had difficulties with the spelling of the word “potato.”
During a televised debate in 1988, Quayle had to face the ‘aristocratic’ Texas Senator Lloyd Bentsen—the Democratic vice-presidential candidate. Quayle bragged that he had as much experience in Congress as John F. Kennedy had at the time.
Lloyd Bentsen, who had been listening with scorn for a while, did not hesitate for a moment and said, “Senator, I served with Jack Kennedy. I knew Jack Kennedy. Jack Kennedy was a friend of mine and I can assure you, you are no Jack Kennedy.”
Almost as deadly as the bullets that hit John Kennedy 25 years before.