On the seventh anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, the people of Louisiana were struck again by Hurricane Isaac. This storm was not as powerful or deadly as Katrina, but it was a monster nonetheless. It might have been the strongest Category 1 hurricane in history. Initial estimates of property damage exceed $2 billion and that amount will surely rise. Over one million people lost power throughout the region. While New Orleans was mostly spared, homes were destroyed in nearby Plaquemines Parish, as well as parts of LaPlace and Slidell. Unfortunately, the threat is not over as rising waters continue to endanger vast regions of the north shore of Lake Pontchartrain.
Sadly, there were several reported fatalities, but courageous volunteers and first responders worked tirelessly to rescue scores of stranded homeowners fleeing floodwaters. Isaac is the latest in a string of powerful storms to devastate the region. In the past seven years, Louisiana and our neighbors along the Gulf Coast have been ravaged by a series of fierce tropical systems: Cindy, Katrina, Rita, Ike, Gustav, Claudette, Ida, Bonnie, Lee, and of course Isaac.
In our colorful history, we have faced hurricane threats almost yearly, but the people of Louisiana refuse to surrender to Mother Nature. The aftermath of Hurricane Isaac will be no different. This spirit of resiliency has been a hallmark of our region since Bienville founded New Orleans almost 300 years ago.
Along with frequent hurricanes, the area has faced yellow fever epidemics, carpetbaggers, Reconstruction, crime waves, political corruption, massive floods and coastal erosion among a host of other disasters. We are certainly survivors in a beautiful, but very tough environment.
After each challenge, the vast majority of residents return to reclaim their property and rebuild their homes, vowing not to abandon their beloved state. The rest of the nation could learn a great deal from studying the incredible resiliency of the people of Louisiana.
The American people need to have the same fighting spirit as the people of Louisiana who keep coming back from one disaster after another. As Louisiana residents refuse to surrender in the face of hurricane damage, this nation needs to refuse to surrender to the economic woes we now face.
At the present time, an economic hurricane has devastated the country. The news keeps getting worse as Americans are facing a high unemployment rate, anemic economic growth, rising food and gasoline prices and a housing industry that is in a depression. Food stamp recipients are at an all time high and more Americans than ever are classified as poor.
To recover, America must once again start to believe in itself. A change in attitude is more important than any program or policy introduced by the government. In fact, some good old fashioned optimism is required once more. America needs the type of confidence boost that was offered by President Ronald Reagan in the 1980’s. It was a key factor in his successful economic program.
Clearly, this message was not lost on the Republicans gathering in Tampa this week. In his acceptance speech, VP candidate Paul Ryan addressed these issues. As he said to the country, “we can do this,” and overcome these immense economic challenges, but we desperately need a change of direction. In his address, Mitt Romney vowed to “restore the promise of America” after four years of disappointment.
Sadly, the Obama administration offers no solutions and continued misery. It basically accepts the poor economy and advocates only more government spending and more dependency. The President presents to the nation despair and dejection, that the government is the only answer.
In contrast, the Republican Party needs to heartily embrace an alternative plan, namely free enterprise, the resurgence of the private sector and the re-creation of a country that is not dependent on the government for survival. In essence, the GOP needs to stress good old fashioned Louisiana self reliance.
In Louisiana, this personal resiliency, not government assistance, is the reason so many people continue to live in a state that is prone to hurricanes and other natural disasters. While the government may help, it will not restore Louisiana in the aftermath of Isaac. Instead, it will require the hard work of storm victims, along with their friends and family, toiling night and day to rebuild. This familiar story has been replayed countless times in the 300 year history of this region. This attitude will allow this state to continue to prosper, despite tragedies, whether the government helps or not.
Here in Louisiana, we love our families and friends, our cherished traditions and history, the beautiful architecture and unique culture, our wonderful food and festivals, the scenic beauty and sporting paradise, and the incomparable musical and political heritage of our state. Our roots run deep in Louisiana, it defines who we are, so we stay and live to fight another day.
This country needs that same spirit to continue to fight this economic downturn. Hopefully, after hard work, resilience and a change in direction our nation will be able to rejoice in that favorite Louisiana expression, “Laissez les bons temps rouler.”
Our nation is a long way from good times today, but if the Obama administration is replaced, we will be one huge step closer.
Jeff Crouere is a native of New Orleans, LA and he is the host of a Louisiana based program, “Ringside Politics,” which airs at 7:30 p.m. Fri. and 10:00 p.m. Sun. on WLAE-TV 32, a PBS station, and 7 till 11 a.m. weekdays on WGSO 990 AM in New Orleans and the Northshore. For more information, visit his web site at www.ringsidepolitics.com. E-mail him at [email protected].