As Hurricane Laura crashed into Cameron Parish this morning, people from across Louisiana joined in prayer for our fellow state residents. Surely, there will be federal and state assistance and an outpouring of volunteers, such as the Cajun Navy, who will mobilize resources to help those in need.
While we await the damage reports from Hurricane Laura, we should realize there has been another storm devastating our state. This one has been created by our lockdown crazed Governor, John Bel Edwards.
Despite improvements in the battle against Covid-19, Edwards has decided to maintain the partial lockdown on our fragile economy until at least September 11. Our state is stuck in lockdown hell, a continual Phase 2 recovery stage that never seems to end. The Governor’s restrictions include a mask mandate for all state residents, shutting down all bars, and limiting events to 50 people or less.
These draconian measures will significantly impede our economic growth at exactly the wrong time. Thousands of people across the state have been thrown out of work with no prospects for recovery any time soon. The tourism and entertainment industries that sustain much of the state’s economy are on life support.
Prior to the emergence of Covid-19, Louisiana had the worst economy in the nation, losing population, jobs, and businesses at a rapid pace. Since the lockdown, an untold number of businesses have closed and will never reopen again.
With a hurricane causing massive damage in the southwest portion of the state, it is essential to restart our fragile economy in the rest of Louisiana. Regrettably, the Governor is unwilling to withdraw his iron grip on our economy.
If only Louisiana had courageous legislative Republicans who would stand up to these unfair restrictions. With just a majority vote in either body of the Louisiana Legislature, the Governor’s emergency orders would be immediately ended.
Unfortunately, most of our legislative Republicans are cowards who have done nothing to stop Edwards. They are worried about public opinion or the power of the Governor, or federal funding or maybe they agree with his mandates.
Certainly, they are not listening to grassroots Republicans across the state. There have been multiple rallies held in New Orleans, Lafayette, and Baton Rouge to implore the legislature to stand up to the Governor. All these efforts have been for naught, for no meaningful action has been taken.
If the legislative Republicans will not stand up to our liberal Governor on such an important issue, what issue will cause them to take action? Can Edwards literally do whatever he wants? Why are these Republicans in the legislature, just to do the bidding of a liberal Governor?
In last year’s elections, Louisiana voters awarded the Republican Party a super majority of seats in the State Senate and a strong majority in the House of Representatives. Surely voters thought these majorities would embolden legislative Republicans. Louisiana Republicans undoubtedly expected GOP legislators to serve as an impediment to the liberal initiatives of Governor Edwards. Sadly, just the opposite has occurred, these Republicans have done the bidding of the Democrat Governor.
An override resolution was not even contemplated in the State Senate and the House measure, which needed 53 votes to pass, could only muster approximately 40 supporters. This is pitiful considering that there are 68 Republicans in the Louisiana House of Representatives. Yet, we have come to expect disgraceful performance. Since the beginning of this pandemic, it has been quite disappointing to see the legislature capitulate so easily and so often to the Governor.
Fortunately, there are a few legislators who are not supporting these mandates, which Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry accurately noted are both unconstitutional and unenforceable. For example, LA State Representative Richard Nelson (R-Mandeville) noted that “Our hospitals were never overrun, the lockdown did not stop the spread, and “two more weeks” of restrictions has become six months. At some point we must hold our leaders accountable with their own facts.”
Nelson is exactly right, and the time is now for both accountability and action. If our legislators refuse to do anything, the people of Louisiana must move forward with a statewide campaign to recall Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards.
In a state with 3 million registered voters, a successful recall petition will take 20% of the qualified electors. So, it will require 600,000 verified signatures of registered voters to force a recall election. This is a massively tall order, but just starting the effort might jolt Edwards into ending his executive orders.
A successful recall must occur within 6 months, a herculean task no doubt, but if the alternative is the economic destruction of Louisiana, it is unquestionably worth it.
Jeff Crouere is a native New Orleanian and his award winning program, “Ringside Politics,” airs locally at 7:30 p.m. Fridays and at 10:00 p.m. Sundays on PBS affiliate WLAE-TV, Channel 32, and from 7-11 a.m. weekdays on WGSO 990-AM & www.Wgso.com. He is a political columnist, the author of America’s Last Chance and provides regular commentaries on the Jeff Crouere YouTube channel and on www.JeffCrouere.com. For more information, email him at [email protected]