This New Year’s Eve, Kentuckians aren’t singing the same “Auld Lang Syne.” The inauguration of Gov. Matt Bevin began a new song for our old Kentucky home.
Bevin eloquently delivered the first verse with his inaugural address. But what was most striking was his statement that he would be a praying governor — an acknowledgment that a man’s rhetoric alone cannot do the job.
Clearly, Bevin is intelligent; he gave a polished, 35-minute address with no notes. And he has surrounded himself with bright, well-qualified people.
All of that is necessary, but it’s not enough, and Bevin knows this. Prayer and discernment can provide the wisdom and courage that Bevin needs to move Kentucky forward. I am grateful that he recognizes the need for prayer.
We should pray for him, his new administration, and our Commonwealth. Indeed, we should lift up all our elected officials in prayer; those we like the least perhaps need it the most.
At the inauguration, Rabbi Joe Rooks Rapport read from scripture about Solomon: “Grant your servant an understanding heart.” As the Rev. Bob Russell explained, “There’s a difference between knowledge and wisdom. Knowledge is horizontal – it’s the accumulation of facts about this world. Wisdom is vertical. It sees life from God’s perspective. It is the practical application of facts to everyday life. Knowledge impresses man, but wisdom pleases God."
Given the problems our Commonwealth faces, we need leaders who seek wisdom from “God’s perspective.”
With respect to “horizontal knowledge,” it was encouraging that Gov.
Steve Mike Pence from Indiana attended Bevin’s inauguration. Like Tennessee, Indiana has surged past Kentucky for some time, just as Indianapolis and Nashville have left Louisville behind. Pence is building on the renaissance of Indiana that former Gov. Mitch Daniels began with the application of conservative policies. “Mitch the Knife’s” record in Indiana was so stunning that many Republicans wanted him to run for president.
Completion of the new Ohio River bridges raises the specter of Kentucky jobs moving across the river to Indiana in search of a friendlier business climate. Bevin’s election, therefore, comes just in time.
How refreshing and reassuring then to have our new governor promise to learn from Indiana, calling it “a model that we are going to copy. I am not above copying what other people are doing well.”
Lt. Gov. Jenean Hampton’s historic election also bodes well for the future of Kentucky.
Progressives complain that Kentucky is turning red because voters here dislike Obama due to racism. It’s true that Kentuckians overall oppose Obama. It’s also true that Democrats’ electoral fortunes here are in a freefall alongside Obama’s approval rating. But not due to racism, as Hampton’s presence on the ticket and election well demonstrate
Hampton emphasized at the inauguration that she will not be tied to her desk. I hope that she builds upon Sen. Rand Paul’s efforts to reach out to minorities – followed up by the Jefferson County Republican Party’s opening an office in west Louisville. Hampton’s election should affirm and energize those important efforts.
Let’s not lose sight of the purpose of those efforts. It would be great to grow the Republican party and make the 3rd Congressional District competitive again. But it is essential to improve the quality of life through conservative solutions that empower Kentuckians to escape poverty.
That’s why conservatives have long favored school choice – so that parents who cannot afford places like Oldham County are not stuck sending their children to failing schools.
Bevin’s “Team of Rivals” appointment of Hal Heiner as secretary of Education and Workforce Development suggests that school choice finally will become a reality, given Heiner’s passion and expertise on the issue. This is long overdue.
Bevin noted at his inauguration that Kentucky “is one of seven states where there is no competition for public education dollars. That is going to end. We are not doing as well as we could be.” Bevin promised that “we're going to start to bring school choice to the state of Kentucky, and we will let the momentum carry forward because we owe nothing less to our young people.”
2016 will be the year that Kentucky Republicans flip the House. The sooner Republicans have a majority, the faster Bevin can make the changes necessary to catch up with — and surpass — surrounding states that have been luring away Kentucky jobs.
Not the same old song, but rather, as Bevin put it, “a fresh start together, as one Kentucky. Black, white, rural, urban, Democrat, Republican, Independent, people who come from both ends of the socio-economic spectrum, male, female, young and old alike. This is our Kentucky, this is our time. This is our opportunity.”
Bridget Bush is a Louisville attorney and founder of Elephants in the Bluegrass blog. Her column appears every third Wednesday in the Courier-Journal.