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Opening Arguments

The polls, they are a changin'

We frequently hear lawmakers talking about the risk of getting too far ahead of their constituents. Is there an equal danger of lagging too far behind their constituents?

Legislators may balk at the idea of easing the penalties for marijuana, but a new poll shows a majority of Hoosiers support legalizing the drug and taxing it like alcohol and tobacco.

The same poll finds that a strong majority of Hoosiers oppose amending the state constitution to ban same-sex marriages and civil unions.

The political analysts who conducted the poll say the results show traditionally conservative Hoosiers are changing their minds on hot-button issues, in part because of what they see happening in the rest of the nation.

A danger maybe, but not an equal one. I suspect those "traditionally conservative Hoosiers"  are a little more passionate about the status quo than people in most states. When they don't want to give it up, they really don't want to give it up, but when they finally do, I think they go through a long period of ambivalence first. Hoosiers in this poll are probably more in the ambivalent camp that the "passionate for change" one.

And we should not forget the difference in these two issues. Whatver the Legislature decides about marijuana, that's what we'll get. But if the General Assembly votes yes for the constitutional ban, that merely sets up the referendum in which we get to decide.