APPEL: Lessons From 2016 For Louisiana’s Republicans

Well, this election cycle is in the books (at least for now!). There is one message that jumps out of the results of these elections and that is the current level of support for the two major political parties in Louisiana. If we look back at the last few statewide elections for federal office the statistics are consistent. I have chosen not include the gubernatorial election of 2015 as I believe that that election was based more upon personality flaws than upon political drivers.

The election numbers speak volumes (for this I have summed all Democrat vote totals in each race);
2014 Senate Race – GOP 56% Dem 44%
2016 Presidential Race – GOP 58% Dem 38%
2016 Senate Race – GOP 61% Dem 39%
2016 1st House Race – GOP 75% Dem 20%
2016 2nd House Race – GOP 0% Dem 100%
2016 3rd House Race – GOP 100% Dem 0%
2016 4th House Race – GOP 65% Dem 35%
2016 5th House Race – GOP 82% Dem 18%
2016 6th House Race – GOP 63% Dem 24%

Average all races – GOP 62% Dem 35%

In a quick and dirty look at these results one could easily draw a simple conclusion: the voters of Louisiana (outside of the minority-majority congressional district) do not vote for Democrat candidates. Beyond that a slightly deeper dive into these numbers demonstrates that, again except for the minority district, the Democrats don’t even bother to field candidates that would have a reasonable chance of success. Perhaps they don’t propose candidates because they just don’t have any, or because they are afraid of losing, or because the political philosophy and voting record of any potential candidate is contrary to the political philosophy of the citizens of Louisiana. Who knows but judging by the two Senate races I believe that it is the latter case. The result is at the end of the 2016 cycle the Democrat Party holds only two statewide seats – the governor and one congressman.

The voters of Louisiana, not unlike the voters throughout the heartland of America, have spoken loudly. They don’t accept all the liberal-think that has been imposed upon them over the many decades. The citizens finely have had enough and have voted for a groundswell of change in Congress and in the White House. They are tired of living in a state that is one of the richest in assets in the Country but remains stuck one of the poorest in socio-economic outcomes.

For quite some time the GOP has maintained control over the Legislature, and for a time the Governor’s Mansion, but the results have not been always what should have been expected. Sadly, the promise of a new way of doing the people’s business in Louisiana has not materialized. We can blame Republicans who don’t vote as Republicans, we can blame a previous Governor who was more concerned about his own future rather than the future of the people of Louisiana, we can blame a current Governor who absolutely is not in alignment with our state’s philosophy, we can blame the lingering overhang of Huey Long’s ideas, everyone deserves everything and someone else should pay for it.

We certainly can’t blame the Democrats for our state’s inability to reach that place in which Louisiana should be. No, the Democrats have always been honest; they don’t believe what we believe, theirs is a belief in Big Government funded by other people’s money. They don’t hide from that. The people have spoken with their votes and the Democrat Party and its philosophy survives today in only small numbers. For them the day of reckoning has arrived, they are now a but a shadow of what the Democrat Party once was in our state. Despite their decline, the Louisiana Democrats incredibly are still moving farther away from the direction that the people are headed and so they will probably remain a minor party for decades to come.

Whatever or whoever we want to blame, we members of the GOP must consider our own hearts and ask why we have failed in the promises that we all made. A promise to deliver a state with a modern economy to produce jobs to create family wealth, a first-class education system to provide for our kids, a healthcare safety net not a bloated system that aligns with liberal federal policies that are soon to be overcome, a tax structure that is fair and evenly balanced between citizens and business, and a balanced civil justice system that is not looked upon a legal lottery in which the lawyers are always the big winners but which scares business away from our state.

I do not accept failure as an option. Yes, we in the GOP have a major challenge; we must overcome a governor who just doesn’t believe what we believe, we must overcome a history of bad governance and economic policy, we must overcome a serious intrastate recession, and we must overcome our own members who just don’t get the message that the people with their votes have screamed. Despite these challenges, we members of the GOP must rely upon our majority to find a way to implement good government practices. That does not mean just vote against anything that the Governor promotes. But that does mean not accepting compromise that flies in the face of our ideals of good government or the people’s expectations as expressed by their votes.

The election numbers translate into a message that the people do not want that business as usual, they don’t want Democrat policies or Democrat politicians who promote them, they want action. They will not tolerate legislators who fail to heed this message. For all my peers who have always been on the fence or who have had honest concerns as to what the people really want, read these numbers. If you have any thoughts about a future in Louisiana politics understand what they say.

The old ways are dead, our country has embarked upon a new direction to recapture its place in the sun and if we members of the GOP fail to catch that wave our state will be left ever farther behind!

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