APPEL: Is Hatred Of Bobby Jindal Really A Good Re-Election Strategy For John Bel Edwards?

Is it possible that in just eight short years the people of Louisiana have made a spectacular about face on their principles? Is it possible that in the time of Trump, Louisiana people reject his viewpoint but just love the man? So that we should give him four more years to govern in a way that is contrary to everything most Louisianans stand for? Governor Edwards is doing his best to convince us that such is reality.

Despite the governor’s consistent efforts to revise history, eight years ago, in the election of 2011, we re-elected Bobby Jindal with nearly 2/3 of the vote. Governor Edwards’ current re-election strategy is to twist that history; to obscure the reasons Louisianans voted for Jindal in such overwhelming numbers by obscuring those reasons with a visceral hate for a governor who rapidly lost the trust of the people. Whether consciously or not the media has become his vehicle to sell that message. The quandary that the governor faces by employing his strategy is that though the citizens eventually rejected Jindal personally, they never abandoned the principles he stood for.

Bobby Jindal’s early success was because he took bold action to implement policies that aligned with so many of the ideals that are widely held in our conservative state; small government, education reform, economic vitality, low taxes, pro-growth instead of government subsidy. But Jindal’s terms as governor were marked by two eras; his reform and pro-growth period, followed by his unwelcome, personal ambition period.

Until Jindal caught Potomac Fever in his second period and abandoned Louisiana to chase his own dreams, he had wide support, winning re-election by that unheard-of 65% of the vote. That landslide clearly indicates that though he eventually lost his way, his conservative ideals and his leadership were approved of by a vast majority of Louisiana citizens. And it is those ideals that, embodied in the person of President Trump, are stronger in our people today than they ever were in the time of Jindal.

The election strategy of the 2019 Republicans will be highlighted by their challenge to the old-school liberal philosophy personified in Governor Edwards, the same philosophy widely rejected in the 2011 vote. Republicans offer a new approach to state government much akin to the Drain the Swamp and Make America (Louisiana) Great Again philosophies that were once the key to Jindal’s overwhelming re-election. These are the same fundamental reasons that so many in Louisiana strongly support President Trump.

By all means possible Governor Edwards wants to avoid that discussion. Instead he is attempting to change the subject using Jindal’s legacy, a legacy which was marred by his personal choices. It is that stained legacy that Governor Edwards desperately wants to focus our attention on. Edwards’ worst nightmare is if the people of Louisiana realize that he is a tax-and-spend liberal and does not in any way stand for the same things that they are dedicated to.

To overcome the people’s adherence to their belief in conservative ideals, the Edwards’ re-election strategy is to run not against the Republican candidates but instead run against the blemished Jindal legacy. At the same time an “independent” PAC savages his opponents so that his fingerprints never appear on the mudslinging. His tactic is to highlight the flawed part of the Jindal legacy in order to convince voters that everything else about the previous governor was bad, especially his policies. In doing so he is attempting to convince voters to abandon their own beliefs, those that had originally sustained Jindal, and instead vote for him. His stratagem is an attack on the voters’ principles, not so much on opposing candidates.

This is a plan fraught with risk because just as in Jindal’s time the vast majority of Louisianans are passionately inclined toward their conservative philosophy and, though they fell out of love with Jindal as a person, they have never lost their trust in the underpinnings of his conservative policies. Thus the need to use subterfuge to convince voters that by reverting to the liberal philosophy of Edwards we are on the right path.

You will not hear much of this discussion of this in the media, perhaps that is because much of the media has always hated Jindal and they revel in making him look bad. In the meanwhile, at least in his first term, the media has given Edwards a free pass. The media has barely challenged him; contrast that with their near constant challenges to Jindal.

A case in point, how many times have you heard Edwards bemoan the $2 billion fiscal cliff that he supposedly inherited from Jindal, but not a mention from the media that Edwards had negotiated and later voted for most of the Jindal budgets? How many times has the media questioned why much of the “cliff” was brought on by his own new spending? Clever politics assisted by an unconsciously willing media.

The governor is good at using the blame Jindal game to create confusion to divert attention and the media has so far abetted his efforts. But the voters have the final say, and in the end Edwards’ only chance to win re-election is to successfully hoodwink the voters by making them forget why they voted so strongly for conservative, pro-growth principles eight years ago. That task is even more difficult because the governor must prevent the people from understanding that he governs under the liberal policies that for so long have kept Louisiana locked in last place in almost all metrics of success.

Whether the people of Louisiana liked Jindal or not, history will judge the 2019 election in the light of Einstein’s adage, “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result”

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