Commentary: A day for the disenchanted voter


By John Krull

INDIANAPOLIS – The 2014 election has a clear winner.



None of the candidates for office at the state or national level elicited much enthusiasm. In fact, the polls tracking public approval ratings for Democrats and Republicans indicate that both parties are just slightly more popular than the common cold.

The public’s disgust with – and distrust of – politicians, regardless of their political affiliations, rarely has been higher.

In Florida, for example, the two candidates for governor – Republican incumbent Rick Scott and former-Republican-governor-now-Democratic-candidate Charlie Crist – spent more than $100 million on their campaigns, the bulk of it spent on negative advertising bashing each other. The end result was that voters decided they didn’t trust either man and, in a classic case of choosing the lesser of two evils, opted to retain Scott for another four years.

That was a storyline repeated across the country. People didn’t much care for the choices they had when they went to polling places and wanted a way to express their anger, but found there was no easy way to do that.

When the smoke cleared, it appeared Republicans would control both the U.S. Senate and the U.S. House of Representatives with the White House in Democratic hands – making it likely that the federal government would improve upon its already record standards of dysfunction.

And, in the process, increase the levels of frustration and distrust among the electorate.

Closer to home, here in the Hoosier state, it appears that the GOP will hold onto its supermajorities in both the Indiana House of Representatives and the Indiana Senate.

Perhaps the day’s highlight was the apparent election of a man under a huge ethics cloud who didn’t even want the office for which he was running – Rep. Eric Turner, R-Cicero. Turner has been slapped on the wrist – hard – by the leadership of his own party for being less than forthcoming about his personal financial interests while he lobbied for legislation that would affect those interests within the House Republican caucus.

Thanks in part to some skillful gerrymandering, Turner was able to hold onto his seat despite announcing his intention to resign as soon as the votes were counted. Turner’s maneuver means the citizens of his district will be represented by someone for whom no one other than a handful of precinct leaders has voted.

That sort of cynicism has a cost.

Earlier in the day, I hosted a radio program that dealt with the subject of supermajorities in the Indiana General Assembly.

Once people began calling and writing in to the program, it became clear that their disenchantment went further than mere partisanship.

They were frustrated with what they saw as a government more interested in political game-playing than it was in serving their interests. They were angry about a government that wasn’t responsive to their concerns.

One caller lamented the fact that gerrymandering meant she didn’t even have a choice in regard to who represented her because only one party fielded a candidate. Another caller said he didn’t even know how to connect with legislators because it seemed to him that they only wanted to hear feedback from voters that tracked with lawmakers’ preconceived notions.

And still another listener made the argument that elected officials often seemed to work to thwart her hopes rather than create opportunities to fulfill them.

Nothing that happened Tuesday is likely to erase or even ease those frustrations. The vote in 2014 did little more than set the stage for more bickering, more posturing, more gridlock at the federal level and more strong-arm maneuvering at the state level.

All of this raises an interesting – and troubling – question.

At some point, the campaigning is supposed to end and the governing is supposed to begin.

Now, though, it appears the campaign never will end.

So how are we supposed to govern?

John Krull is director of Franklin College’s Pulliam School of Journalism, host of “No Limits” WFYI 90.1 Indianapolis and publisher of, a news website powered by Franklin College journalism students.


  1. Gosh, John, not a word about how the Indiana voters, although, in your opinion, are disenchanted with both parties, still threw out more Democrats and overwhelmingly elected more Republicans. And knowing the overwhelming majority of the listeners to your little radio show are liberals, I would claim the only disenchanted are the Indy and Bloomington troubled liberal Democrats.

    • So, which republicans were tossed out on their ass by disenchanted voters? Not a damn one! This election was about tossing out democrats for failing our country.

  2. You correctly state “At some point, the campaigning is supposed to end and the governing is supposed to begin.”

    Send the message to Obama. He’ll campaign until he’s out of office rather than do anything productive. BTW proving he’s a hack @ golf isn’t productive.

    Fret not, you’ll keep the presidency in 20016 due in no small part to all of the illegal aliens being allowed more rights than American citizens have.

    • Clinton has been out of office for 14 years and Hillary has been giving $200k speeches since she told Obama to take that job and shove it, yet they spent the last two months campaigning. The Clinton’s went all in for democrat candidates in KY and their home state of AR with no positive results. The big dog is now licking the wounds of irrelevance just like Obama is. Isn’t it amazing that their mere presence means nothing to people who think. Let’s hope the American people keep thinking. These people only know one thing and that is politics. They will campaign till they die cause it feels good to them to be surrounded by their adoring sycophants.

  3. So John, are you then supportive and in agreement with President Obama that the voice he will be listening to going forward is the voice of the 2/3 rds of the population that did not vote? I can only assume as much as your train of thought is of the same ethereal, disjointed Raison d’être as his.

    • Obama is a most amazing creature. Just yesterday he claims to be listening to the 200 million people in the USA who never bothered to speak. I think the 67% should be known collectively as the Jackass Whisperers from this day forward.

      • Two years to go and the president is hearing voices where there are none. Reagan got that way toward the end of his term too.

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