If it isn’t official, it should be: it’s John Bel or bust for Louisiana’s Democrats, as the filing of New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu’s campaign finance report subsequent to his last year’s reelection shows – also indicating the dire straits in which the party finds itself largely through its own self-deception.
As recently noted, state Rep. John Bel Edwards’ non-trivial fundraising totals for the governor’s race this year revealed both that a consensus was forming that he was an adequate draw from the poor options out there to bear the party’s standard in 2015 and that Landrieu could not feel as if he was the natural selection by party activists to lead this charge. As late as last week, others still made noise about Landrieu possibly running, such as an official of the Democratic Governors Association thinking that Landrieu was “carefully considering” running and would be quite competitive.
Which tells us he doesn’t really know Landrieu or is whistling into a gale. Landrieu’s succinct report showed all he did was transfer the meager remains of his mayoral campaign account to a “future office” account. No funds were raised nor spent outside of that account aside from that election in 2014. Nobody not deluded about chances of victory runs for governor with $33,000 or so in the bank with just under a year to go.
So count Landrieu out and national Democrats should concede they need to go all in on Edwards. But in a sense this daydreaming – both of Landrieu’s running and his chances of winning, neither of which Landrieu appears to indulge himself with at this time – represents the larger crisis of Democrats nationally, in that they cannot permit themselves to understand why the party has become so unbalanced, clinging to the White House and little else. That same faith that a type of Landrieu awaits out there that can restore the party’s fortune without fundamental change from within infects all of its attempted self-analysis.
A serving of this got dished out last week when a special committee formed by the national party released a postmortem on the party’s recent electoral fortunes. A clear-eyed, dispassionate analysis would have noted that national policy from its electoral leaders continued to focus on redistribution of wealth and expansion of government that has helped lower median family income by around $2,000 per household and raise the proportion of the adult population not working by almost 3 percent since Democrat Pres. Barack Obama took office. It also would note its distinctly unfriendly middle-class aspects, such as imposition of the unwanted and still unpopular Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act that has caused the typical individual health insurance premium to increase 24 percent, often for coverage no better if not worse than before the law went into effect. Additionally, it would link these policy failures promulgated by Democrats, that also trickled down from there to impressions of state and local contests, along with the consequential generally decisive candidate rejections at the ballot box at all levels, to the party’s core liberalism, and conclude that the discarding of some of these – a move to the center – would bring more electoral success.
Instead, the report turned out to feature the blind leading the blind. It fell back on a familiar shibboleth that somehow the “messaging” wasn’t right, rather than face the obvious that the message itself is flawed. To want to change, you first have to admit that you need to change, and clearly Democrats are far from making that admission for themselves.
Hence the belief in the magical candidate like Landrieu who can cut through it all and stave off the bogeymen whose influence, money, etc. makes their messaging superior. But that guy doesn’t exist and cannot exist in an environment with an increasingly informed electorate with access to more information and a willingness for the opposition to make contrasts with the implications of liberalism and the behavior and rhetoric of liberal candidates, illustrating the manifest contradictions that result. Until Louisiana Democrats face these truths, their exile in power in most parts of government will continue, and they deceive themselves if they think a magic candidate can resurrect their electoral fortunes.