by Marion Marks
When Edwin Edwards was elected Governor, running against David Duke, we learned “Vote for the Crook!” Statewide, voters understood un-indicted Edwards, closely aligned to shady deals and abuse of office for years, was NOT the evil of challenger David Duke. Edwards built a coalition of forces united in preventing worse evils from control of the reins of government.
Edwards, in the October primary of 1991 with incumbent Governor Buddy Roemer, Clyde Holloway and others, engineered the eventual Edwards-Duke run-off. Duke had his best showing statewide and captured the majority of white voters, who basically selected racist, self-serving economic or bigoted tenants of Duke’s platform over what proved public-spirited and more honorable Edwards campaign rhetoric. Louisiana did “Vote for the Crook!”
Had Duke succeeded in this election, the state would probably have taken more conservative-racist positions than even the Tea Party now believes feasible. Yet the Duke “brain trust” never reasoned a coalition of black and liberal allies would unite as Edwards was able to engineer. Today’s Tea Party and general GOP learned lessons in defeat, and the modern Louisiana Republican Party moderates public radical rhetoric. Yet underlying the veneer, the sheets still rattle their sabers.
The 2014 Senate Race run-off has throttled strong hate speech from some and uses code to push powerful incumbent Mary Landrieu into a box labeled “Obama.” The president’s poor ratings and failed congressional favorability seem to limit Landrieu to seeming maximum of 47% . It’s eerily a mirror Mitt Romney allowed to slip in his presidential run of 2012.
Landrieu hasn’t motivated her base, dwindled by Katrina and political handiwork of state Republicans. Lessons Republicans learned, generally based on destroying the system that supported the Democrat inner-city machine of government-paid programs, seem to finally be paying dividends. The support system allowed tens of thousands of poor, minority, disenfranchised for generations and generally non-whites to remain on social services within the boundaries of the state of Louisiana. And this destruction will be Jindal’s legacy and hope of gaining national acceptance.
Landrieu baggage for Louisiana citizens seems littered with dirty linen in manipulations behind the scenes in protecting friends, allies and general foul management to protect those whose own bad deeds deserved investigations. Within the state too many foul politicians have been allowed “passes” based on political alliances and need to support those who were partisans. The foxes have been running the hen house too long. Change seems inevitable!
Few white Louisiana citizens understand the social network that provided hundreds of millions of dollars annually to poor, uneducated, mentally ill, generationally abused or otherwise wards-of-the-state who traditionally voted for those who continued to keep them on the social network. Much of the support of the educational system and health system is shared by Republican supporters, but the abuses became intolerable.
It wasn’t evil that drove average white voters to wake to a realization that only by raising taxes or reorganizing the weight of government income could restructure social support without drastic amputations. The systematic desire of Republicans, including the middle class majority, to alter power required change in the voter base. And, Landrieu and “liberal Democrats” needed to maintain open purse strings for her voters to remain in the state, but congress and Jindal, working in concert, succeeded in driving them out of Louisiana.
What white [replace with Tea Party or Republican as appropriate] power brokers understood was that the only legal method to maneuver the ballot was to cut the financial support strings that allowed a voter base that gave Democrats power to continue to vote in Louisiana. Systematically, and partially thru the Katrina exodus, hundreds of thousands of traditional Democrat votes were driven out of play. They simply vanished, or in many instances became Republicans with the changing sentiment both regionally and nationally. Polarization affected the chemistry and balance in Louisiana as elsewhere.
This vacuum allowed Governor Jindal to further dissolve the state social network. State hospitals, state mental health agencies, family social-service programs for poor, infirm or veteran services began to evaporate. Jindal‘s legacy is almost complete as he now jockeys to parley this “success” into a bid on the national stage. Abracadabra Bobby has performed magic!
Unlike Huey Long, architect of modern statewide roads, free textbooks, a strong state university system and the state capitol, all constructive advances, Jindal will be known as the “Great Destroyer.” He tore down so many monuments that respected people and social responsibility, and is proud of his destruction.
In his element Jindal seems to demonstrate pride, emulating the Almighty on the sixth day.
[Jindal] “saw every thing that he had made[destroyed], and, behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day.”
Yet Jindal has no seventh day to rest, as all foul deeds seem to come home to roost in deficits, litigation and citizens waking to see the damage wreaked on the general population. Citizens only now are focusing on the trail of money pointing to those whose interests are served by the governor’s decisions. Yet, public opinion, driven by messaging and media is controlled by many of the Jindal-friendly forces. Learning to play the game is as important as learning to craft the message for parties, and Jindal’s “Ivy league” education seems to have paid dividends in this investment.
At this point Jindal magic has Louisiana citizens guessing if there is any way out of the maze he built around us. Voters seem complicit because no one seems to have yet been able to call his fraud.