I would think that by now most folks have made their mind up about who they will vote for as the next governor. For those who remain undecided or those who have not made a firm decision let me add a clause to an old cliche’ – this election will determine the future of our state, but maybe just not yet.
In the recent primary election for the legislature, the people of Louisiana spoke loudly, and their decision has resulted in a rejection of old school Louisiana politics and politicians, collectively known as the “Louisiana Way.” The new legislature will be overwhelmingly conservative, and overwhelmingly prepared to change the state for the better.
For all practical purposes there is only one runoff race left that could, by putting a governor in power who clings fervently to the bad old days, still restrain our state. After the primary, the last champion of the old Louisiana Way is John Bel Edwards.
Political trends take time to develop and they take time to run their course. In our world Louisiana’s liberal, populist culture, nurtured by seemingly endless wealth from oil and gas production, came to full bloom about a hundred years ago. Because of this wealth there was plenty of other people’s money to spend on projects that mainly benefited politicians. And the politicians took advantage of that largess by creating a culture based upon two metaphors; “A chicken in every pot” and “Don’t tax you, don’t tax me, tax the man behind the tree.”
Eventually oil and gas revenues declined, and it has become more and more difficult to pay for all the free stuff that kept the people happy and kept old-school politicians such as Governor Edwards in power. Politicians made entire careers by telling citizens that the “Louisiana Way” could just keep going. But in truth as its resources dried up its days were always numbered. That is a good thing as these politicians and their philosophy of government have resulted in malaise and decay that left Louisiana, a state far richer than so many other states, on the sidelines as the New South passed it by.
The primary election of 2019 made it abundantly clear that the people have had enough of the old Louisiana Way and have mandated the new legislature to undertake a new day in government. No more decay, they want a state built upon conservative, pro-growth policies that lead to prosperity. But because the governor is so powerful in Louisiana, the runoff election for governor will determine whether this mandate is carried out now or it is delayed by four or more years.
Based upon his history and his rhetoric, should Edwards be re-elected he will use the power of his office, to the benefit of his supporters who do quite well under that old way, to block legislative efforts to reform the state. But should Eddie Rispone be elected, working with a legislature that is aligned with his pro-growth philosophy, Louisiana will finally be able to throw off the burdens that have held us back.
So, let me clarify my addition to that old cliche’. The 2019 primary election makes change for the future of Louisiana inevitable. But the 2019 runoff election will determine whether in 2020 under a Rispone governorship we finally start down the road to prosperity or whether under an Edwards governorship we delay that start for at least another four years. Four more years would just mean more malaise as our competing neighbors take great advantage of the amazing American economy that sooner or later will run out leaving us wanting.
No matter what, the people have spoken; the time of the old Louisiana Way of John Bel Edwards and his ilk has passed. It is just a matter of whether it is now or later that a new Louisiana Way, one whose goal is prosperity, not perpetual poverty and good times for politicians, supplants what has kept us down for so long.