Who really won the primary elections of 2019? There are many who will claim victory, but in fact the outcome may well come down in history as a great victory for the children of Louisiana.
Think about this, for as long as records have been kept our state has been mired at the bottom of social and economic outcomes. And with only brief interludes our political leadership has kept itself in power by avoiding the changes that would be required to change those dismal numbers. Our state’s failure to meet expectation has done grave damage to our children, trapping so many in poverty, forcing our best and brightest to out-migrate for better opportunities. But the outcome of the primaries indicate that the people of Louisiana are finally ready to put last place far behind us.
Before he abandoned us to pursue his own ambitions, Bobby Jindal won re-election because he offered the promise of fiscal sanity and government and education reform. The people supported him in his efforts to gain for our people the prosperity of the “New South” by awarding him with a re-election landslide win of 65.8%. On Saturday, in what was a referenda on his policies, John Bel Edwards was only able to glean 46.6% of the vote as he was forced into a runoff with a political newcomer. The message was clear, the majority of Louisianans still want change. But how did Saturday’s primary represent a win for our young people? The answer resolves itself in two issues; education reform and economic opportunities.
Of Jindal’s re-election goals, the most ambitious was education reform. His efforts led to sweeping education legislation based upon principles of high standards, accountability, and parental choice. This legislation gained international recognition for its strategies and boldness. And yet who led the attack against these bills in the legislature? Yep, John Bel Edwards. And who, since being elected governor, has done everything in his power to block education reform? Yep, the same John Bel Edwards. Why, you would ask, would he fight education policies that show promise toward helping the poor and minorities, his own political base? One word, unions; one reason, paying back political debt.
Saturday’s election resulted in an overwhelming Republican majority committed to education reform in the Senate, a complement to that in the House. And, on the assumption of a runoff win, all BESE seats will be held by members also committed to education success, not political issues. So, after a four year delay as Edwards attempted to help his union allies, expectations are that we will get back on track with the education reforms. And the big winner – the kids!
The other big win for Louisiana’s young people will be the end of an era highlighted by economic malaise caused by the anti-growth political policies of John Bel Edwards and the likes of him. It also means the end of the cottage industry of special interests, lining up behind the governor to take advantage of the discredited financial scheme we call “pay to play.”
The way that this comes about started with Saturday’s sea change in the Legislature. Over the last four years those of us who were adherent to a pro-growth, conservative philosophy could only rely on less than half of “Republican” Senators to vote with us on key issues. The rest generally went along with the governor as he pursued his liberal, big government policies. But with the primary election came a true majority (maybe even a super majority) of conservative Senators and the world of the Senate has been turned upside down. Just as with education reform, the Senate will finally be a place in which the good of the people takes precedence over the good of politics and special interests.
What does that mean for Louisiana’s young? It means a turn to pro-growth policies and away from the policies that caused a state with incredible assets to remain mired in the economic desert even as other southern states blossomed. It means that in the near future there will be a focus on wealth-creating jobs and away from a focus on the welfare state. It means that they may be able to stay home and raise their families in Louisiana instead of Texas, Florida, or Tennessee.
The primary election of 2019 was a landmark event for future generations of Louisiana’s young people. There is only one thing can make it more significant – the upcoming election of Eddie Rispone. His election will guarantee the rejection of the political philosophy that has held Louisiana back. It will tell the world that there is a new Louisiana that is poised to lead the nation on the path of prosperity over dependency.
Rispone has made it clear that he will focus on resolving the obstacles to our state’s economic growth. He will abandon Edwards’ conviction that if we keep doing the same things, but just spending more on them, somehow something will change for the better. And unlike Edwards, who takes millions from special interests, Rispone will come to us with no obligations to pay anyone back. Rispone offers a clean start, a chance to re-create Louisiana so that by taking advantages of its assets Louisiana success will be measured not by how many people are swept up into Medicaid, but, because they are more prosperous, by how many leave it.
On Saturday night we started a process in which our young people can get a great education and then be able to stay home to take advantage of economic opportunities that so far have only been available in other states. When Eddie Rispone is elected in the runoff we will have fulfilled all the elements of that promising new future.
Yes, the big winner of the elections of 2019 are the children of Louisiana.