For its citizens, Louisiana has a record of being one of the most underperforming states in the nation. What is remarkable about this is that Louisiana possesses far more natural and man-made assets than so many of those other states in which the people enjoy prosperity.
To understand the underlying problem that leads to our underperforming, there is but one thing that prominently stands out. As we all know for over a century Louisiana has accepted a political philosophy that I call social populism. Ironically there is a remarkable parallel between Louisiana’s political philosophy and the democratic socialism (in reality this is only a euphemism for the actual socialism of Marx and Engels) as espoused by Bernie Sanders, AOC, and Elizabeth Warren of the radicalized Democratic Party. These American socialist Democrats propose a revolution in government based on a transfer of wealth from the middle- and upper-income class to the lower income class. This would be accomplished through government freebies, paid for with massive re-distributive taxes on the upper income.
Sound familiar, it should. It is the Louisiana Way; it is our own form of socialism, just by another name. In Louisiana this form has been defined by two political jingles; “A chicken in every pot” and “Don’t tax you, don’t tax me, tax the man behind the tree.” The results of this model in Louisiana have been low expectations and strong dependency on the political class. Ironically no one seems to wonder why politicians whose only qualifications are a gregarious personality or whose turn it is to assume power have any ability to define a strong future or lead us to it. But, to our great detriment, that is who we allow to control our fate. It’s no surprise we’re underperforming.
In twentieth-century Europe, socialism was the accepted political and economic template in so many Communist Party controlled states. For a time, it was even seen as the future of Western European states. Of course, the Democrats here won’t mention the inconvenient truth that the folly of socialism was eventually discerned and it was abandoned throughout most of Europe. In fact, history has shown that once European socialism was overcome their economies took off, even as their people prospered. In perhaps thirty short years almost all those countries that were trapped in economic malaise are now prosperous capitalist states. To them socialism is just a bad dream that depressed a generation of their citizens.
But back here in Louisiana we still stubbornly cling to our own home-grown form. The characteristics are clear to see. Big centralized government, massive social programs paid for greatly with out of state resources, overregulation depressing personal freedom, misplaced priorities that empower social welfare instead of self-sufficiency, low expectation of success, acceptance of mediocrity as the rule and not the exception, leadership that uses fear and jealousy to control voters, and on and on.
But this may all be changing. Our current Governor may be the last Huey Long-style social populist, or socialist, to come along. He was barely re-elected over a politically unknown competitor and the entire Legislature has taken a strong shift away from the Louisiana Way. Perhaps because social media has dramatically diminished left leaning traditional media, the voters now see that we have options to achieve high expectations. Perhaps the people finally recognize that our social populism model has failed to lift Louisiana out of poor outcomes and that it cannot deliver success to the majority. Perhaps it is as simple as the people want to have a piece of American prosperity and they finally recognize that the Louisiana Way and politicians who support it are the obstacles to achieving that prosperity.
Bernie Sanders is waving the red flag of revolution as he tries to convince our nation that we should abandon the American Dream that has made our country the envy of the world. But, unlike so many in the rest of our nation, we here in Louisiana live with it every day and understand the ramifications of what that means. Great danger awaits the America people under these radical Democratic policies and leaders, great danger in the form of national mediocrity of a kind that has depressed economic and government success right here in Louisiana.
If Americans want to understand what our nation would look like under the policies of a socialist like Sanders, all they need to do is look at underperforming Louisiana.