The governor has a new TV ad. The theme is that politics changes most people, but he is still the same John Bel Edwards he has always been. I have to say I have not believed his other ads but this one I believe wholeheartedly.
I have known the governor for a dozen years and he is a nice guy. He is married to a wonderful woman and I am convinced he sincerely believes that what he is doing is right. And yes, I believe that he is the same John Bel as he has always been.
But let’s understand what that means. The governor is from a family of politicians, generations of the courthouse gang, so to say. Their whole purpose in life is to be in power and to hold onto that power. And it is that power that assures them of prestige and financial security.
And how do these old-school politicians maintain control? Simple, they prosper by playing on the people’s fears and jealousies. Louisiana’s last hundred years have been marked by populist politicians utilizing these time proven techniques that directly benefit themselves and their families. And remarkably it has worked, even though the promised results for the people have never materialized.
In John Bel Edwards we have a modern politician from a family of career politicians. A man of great intellect who has used that intellect along with his generational political prowess to become the only liberal populist governor in a sea of conservative southern states. He is now running for re-election and showing a reasonable chance at success, even though his state remains mired in almost last place in all the public policy metric rankings. As I noted, John Bel Edwards knows how to tap into the same techniques that career politician have used for generations; he has mastered the art of concealing failure behind a cloak of slick words.
As his ad proclaims John Bel is the same as he has always been. That is so true and will remain so. The problem is that truth conceals the fact that his philosophy and his policies offer nothing new for the state.
For those who buy into his persona, they clearly do not understand that he offers only the status quo to our people. They must know that should he be re-elected he will not change and by inference we will not change. That means that Louisiana will remain mired at the bottom as other southern states become even more successful. That means that more of our best and brightest will leave for those states as opportunities in Louisiana diminish. That means that we will have once again honored the success of the courthouse gang and its political gamesmanship, to their benefit and to our loss.
No, John Bel hasn’t changed, and he never will. Why change when things work so well for him and his family? And to the citizens of Louisiana there is an expression by, of all people one of the old school southern populists, Bill Clinton, that they must remember when they vote:
“The price of doing the same old thing is far higher than the price of change.”
Either we as a people change our ways by rejecting John Bel and his liberal populism or we face assured economic and social decay.