Oct. 29—Indiana desperately needs Dick Lugar in the U.S. Senate.
Lugar served the Hoosier State with distinction and honor during his terms in the Senate from 1977 to 2013. He practiced an artful, ethical and civil brand of politics, always looking for the best solutions and often reaching across the political aisle to compromise with Democrats.
Alas, the moderate Lugar was defeated by a Tea Party candidate in the 2012 Republican primary and didn't run for office again. He passed away seven years later at the age of 87.
So Dick Lugar isn't walking through the door. But one of his disciples is.
U.S. Sen. Todd Young, who lives in nearby Hamilton County, considers himself a conservative, and he is. But he's not among the radical, conspiracy-touting, Trump-kowtowing Republicans who have gained a foothold in Congress.
No, Young, who is 50, thinks and votes independently. Most of his votes square with the Republican majority and modern conservative thought, but he's a moderate in the sense that he can see the middle ground, and sometimes even steps over into it.
According to the Lugar Center, Young is the 13th-most bipartisan legislator in the Senate and the sixth-most bipartisan Republican.
The Lugar Center was founded by Dick Lugar as "a platform for an informed debate on global issues ... (bringing) together expert sources and sponsors research to ... bridge ideological divides around these important issues."
Young is running against Tom McDermott, the Democratic mayor of Hammond, in the Nov. 8 election. McDermott's campaign slogan is "All Hoosier. No Bullsh—," emblematic of both his vow to fix what's wrong in Washington, D.C., and his maverick approach.
Like Young, McDermott, 53, is a military veteran and a man of strong words and strong actions. An attorney, he's pro-Second Amendment, for instance, but believes that assault-style rifles should be outlawed. Young shows flexibility on the issue, as well. He was one of 29 GOP senators to vote in favor of the gun safety bill in June.
On another controversial issue, abortion, McDermott believes Roe v. Wade should be codified to ensure all American women have the same rights to abortion. Young believes it should be left in the hands of the states.
McDermott has the earmarks of a strong leader and independent voice for Hoosiers in Washington, but a conservative Republican senator like Young who rejects far-right Trumpism is more important for Indiana in the current political climate. Hoosiers would be well-served, though, if McDermott were to run against Indiana's other sitting U.S. senator, the ultra-conservative Mike Braun, in 2024.
Though he's still a freshman, Young is already influential, sitting on high-profile Senate committees such as Foreign Relations; Small Business and Entrepreneurship; Commerce, Science and Transportation; and Finance.
He might not be Dick Lugar, but in this age of political acrimony, Todd Young is probably as close as we're going to get.