Sheila Kennedy is a former high school English teacher, former lawyer, former Republican, former Executive Director of Indiana’s ACLU, former columnist for the Indianapolis Star, and former young person. She is currently an (increasingly cranky) old person, a Professor of Law and Public Policy at Indiana University Purdue University in Indianapolis, and Director of IUPUI’s Center for Civic Literacy. She writes for the Indianapolis Business Journal, PA Times, and the Indiana Word, and blogs at For those who are interested in more detail, links to an abbreviated CV and academic publications can be found on her blog, along with links to her books..

Burgeoning Civic Engagement: They Run (for Office) and They Hide

civic engagement - empty suit town halls

The unremitting chaos in Washington has triggered a number of Town Halls in which GOP members of Congress have faced rooms filled with angry constituents. As a result, a number of other Representatives have evidently decided against holding such events. Not surprisingly, hiding from the people you represent hasn’t made those constituents very happy. Their reactions have varied. I recently […]

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The Trump Budget: Making America Sick Again

The Trump Budget: Making America Sick Again

With the introduction of its proposed budget, the Trump Administration has continued its effort to cut the ground out from under all but the wealthiest Americans–and especially from under the people who voted for Trump. Fortunately, that budget displays the stunning ineptitude that is a hallmark of this Administration (Hey–what’s a two trillion dollar math mistake among friends..?) and is unlikely […]

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Our Mr. Brooks: Civic Engagement & Anti-Intellectualism

Our Mister Brooks

In the early days of television, Eve Arden played “Our Miss Brooks”– a sardonic, wise-cracking and self-aware observer of life around her. David Brooks, our present-day “Mr. Brooks,” is a columnist for the New York Times who often produces perceptive analyses of governance and American society–and sometimes follows them with truly bizarre “meditations.”  The link is to one of the latter. He opens […]

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Disappearing Consumers: It’s Wages, Not Globalization

A recent article in The Week considered the phenomenon of the retail apocalypse–the sudden loss of thousands of jobs in retailing. Employment in general merchandise stores has fallen by almost 90,000 jobs since October. Just like manufacturing jobs before them, brick-and-mortar retail jobs are finally falling to the twin forces of technology and globalization — this time in the form of Amazon […]

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“Those People”: The Economic Realities Of Demonizing ‘Otherness’

those people otherness

Most of us have been in conversations that included someone’s dismissive reference to “those people.” When I was growing up in Anderson, Indiana (with exactly 30 Jewish families in the whole town), the term was often applied to Jews. It was also–and remains–a favored euphemism when race is being discussed by people who don’t like to think of themselves as […]

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Know Nothings: Trump’s War on Expertise

Donald Trump

The Trump Administration’s war on expertise continues to expand. Jeff Sessions (memorably identified by a Facebook friend as one of those Confederate monuments that should be removed) ignores 40+ years of criminal justice research and intensifies the drug war.  Betsy DeVos gives a feminine finger to the mountains of data rebutting her insistence that vouchers improve educational outcomes. Scott Pruitt […]

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Jeff Sessions, Drugs and the Late Lamented GOP

Jeff Sessions

Jeff Sessions is a poster boy for the contemporary GOP–a perfect example of its takeover by racists, misogynists and anti-intellectuals, and its retreat from (and misapplication of) its philosophical roots. Nowhere is the intellectual and moral corruption Sessions represents clearer than in his enthusiasm for re-instituting the War on Drugs–a counterproductive effort that even the rank and file of the […]

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Winning Or Losing Elections Isn’t Emotional; It’s Structural

voter id, voter suppression and voting in the elections

I generally shy away from basing my blogs–or my own opinions, for that matter–on material from partisan sources. Trump and his enablers may accuse traditional media of being “fake” or biased, but that’s a tactic, not an accurate description, so I try to limit my references to places like the New York Times, Washington Post, Guardian, etc. But in the aftermath of […]

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History Will Judge Trump & Pence: Truer Words Were Never Spoken

Pence, Trump and the VP Slot

A column by Richard Cohen in the Washington Post is unkind, but deadly accurate. Actually, the subhead says it all: Trump is crazy. What’s Pence’s excuse? Cohen’s lede: When history holds its trial to account for the Donald Trump presidency, Trump himself will be acquitted on grounds of madness. History will look at his behavior, his erratic and childish lying and his […]

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