WAGUESPACK: Was the Message Received?

The message was clear.

Only a few short days after the conclusion of an election cycle where voters across the country supported candidates that stood in opposition to liberal policies pushed by the Obama administration, the leader of the Louisiana Democratic Party issued a press release to explain the cause of this tidal wave of events.

To quote directly from the release, “But the fact of the matter is this — the non-stop onslaught of negative and inflammatory Koch Brothers ads, added to the toxic media environment driven by Fox News and the right-wing echo chamber, have made it challenging for us to drive out our message to voters.”

Instead of self-reflection, the party leadership has chosen self-deflection. Instead of soul searching, the only search is for fall guys and scapegoats.

Let’s take a short history lesson. Ten years ago, Democratic candidates dominated the elections for Louisiana statewide offices and ran both chambers of the Legislature. Today, Republicans have captured all of those same statewide offices and the GOP now holds the governing majority in the Legislature. This trend should serve as a wake-up call for any losing political party, but instead, the Democratic state leadership seems intent to simply blame news outlets, blogs and conservatives for this decline. That approach symbolizes a snooze button rather than a wake-up call.

As a registered Republican who votes conservative, they may not care what I think. However, I also represent a nonpartisan organization that works closely with officials from all parties and strives to encourage them to embrace an agenda that promotes competitive markets, small government and personal freedom. For this state to reach its enormous potential, LABI recognizes the value of having competing visions for Louisiana from multiple parties that are articulate and compelling. A rising tide lifts all boats and competition brings out the best in all of our elected officials.

In this vein, I will offer some friendly, unsolicited advice to the leadership of the Democratic Party and even go so far as to propose some talking points the party may want to consider in order to better relate to Louisiana voters. Because if recent trends continue, absent a significant course correction, they will continue to lose relevance with the people of Louisiana.

If the Democratic Party leadership wants to begin an evolution back to relevance, they may want to consider saying something like this:

“Today, the Louisiana Democratic Party stops carrying the water of Washington liberals and will instead re-focus our efforts on representing the interests of the Louisiana people. To show our resolve, we make these following commitments:

We will no longer try to elevate the poor and middle class of this state with expensive mandates and ineffective government programs that have not worked, but will instead focus on creating a healthy economy and vibrant free market that will expand high-paying job opportunities for all of our people.

We will no longer rubber-stamp the agenda of union leaders who tax our teachers to fund anti-reform propaganda efforts that hold back our public schools. Instead, we will empower the middle class and working poor with expanded vouchers, school choice, charters, school accountability, and effective teacher evaluations so they can educate their kids and fulfill their dreams just like any other parent.

We will no longer allow federal bureaucrats to regulate, mandate, tax and ban our energy, chemical and manufacturing industry into oblivion, and will instead find ways to expand these industries that create thousands of jobs for low-income and middle-class workers in this state.

We will no longer look the other way while aggressive plaintiffs’ attorneys sue our own people and employers three times as often as they do in other southern states, especially since we know doing so drives away investment and adds a hidden “tort tax” in the rates and cost of goods and services bought by all of our residents.

We will no longer attack small business owners by trying to tax them through Obamacare and mandate uncompetitive wage increases that will drive up their costs and force them to hire fewer employees. Instead, we will work toward lowering their operating costs, making it easier for them to hire trained workers and incentivizing them to expand their investment in our communities.

These are our new commitments to the Louisiana people. We got sidetracked for a decade, but we have now seen the light. Let us use our mulligan on the past 10 years. Give us another chance and we won’t let you down this time.”

Americans are a forgiving bunch, and a little humble pie mixed with a change in direction could go a long way for the once proud Louisiana Democratic Party. Stop trying to empower government to run the lives of people and instead empower the people to run their own lives. While success cannot be guaranteed, in this era of mobility and technology, everyone has access to any opportunity they want to pursue. The days of government being the only way to help people are gone (if it truly ever existed) and that trend will only continue.

Ironically, America’s true traditional spirit of being a land of opportunity for anyone willing to work for it is being reenergized by technology and economic mobility.

Any party that continues to be solely dependent on large government growth to solve problems will look more and more out of touch as this technological evolution continues.

In addition to simply being the right policy and politics, the timing could not be better for Democrats to shift toward this course correction.

Over the last several years, numerous “moderate” trial lawyers have left the Democratic Party and switched to the Republican Party in order to win elections, bringing an anti-tort reform voice into the Republican locker room. Additionally, several conservatives have recently partnered with teacher unions to oppose higher standards in our K-12 education system, a move that could threaten many of the educational reforms passed over the last several years. These two “sleeper cell” efforts into the Republican Party caucus gives Democrats an ability to play the inside-outside game like never before should they choose to support a platform and philosophy that empowers people and stops government intrusion – a message that voters clearly want to hear.

It will be interesting to see what happens next.

Learning from your mistakes is impossible if you don’t admit you made a mistake in the first place. The people have spoken loud and clear. They voted to drive change. They care less about party labels and more about results. They want freedom to pursue the American dream on their terms, not by the terms of Washington bureaucrats. The message was clearly given, the only question is whether it was clearly received.

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