Little Johnny Bel didn’t like the rules, so he took his ball and went home. Then he gave it to the neighborhood bullies and told them to go try to make everybody play by his rules or else the other kids wouldn’t get to play at all.
One could point to many instances in his time as governor where Democrat John Bel Edwards put partisan power elite desires ahead of the needs of the people, abdicating any responsibility he had as a leader. But he topped them all with his recent statement opposing reasonable proposed election rules modifications.
Earlier this week, Republican Sec. of State Kyle Ardoin, as permitted by statute, pitched these changes for the November and December elections in Louisiana. Using the latest evidence-based data to shape these, he called for a modest extension of early voting and of acceptable reasons to request an absentee ballot. He demonstrated that his office could oversee elections that offered low risk of Wuhan coronavirus transmission, that existing request options largely covered those affected by the virus, and that while the state could handle some expansion of ballot reception by mail, the existing elections infrastructure and Postal Service limitations likely would produce an outcome that would moot the counting of too many such ballots.
He offered this in the context of elections almost three and four months away, as Louisiana comes ever closer – if not already at – “herd immunity” where the rate of virus transmission slows because a critical mass of the population has had it. By November, it hardly may be active.
That document set off Edwards, who by law is the final step in approving temporary changes, into high dudgeon. He complained that “voting should not be a super spreader event,” which he alleged the changes wouldn’t prevent. He then proceeded to list a pair of absurdities to justify his charge.
Leading with, “[t]he current plan includes no exemptions for people who are at high risk for getting ill from COVID or those who live with and care for these people.” It didn’t have to: the state’s recent conduct of postponed spring elections and the experiences of others demonstrate in-person elections can be held with very low transmission risk. You don’t need exemptions when such a safe environment – with procedures in place to keep voters distanced and masked, to observe rigorous cleansing protocols, and to assure election commissioner attire that for some is just one step removed from working in a Biosafety Level 4 facility – is provided.
But the most nauseating quality of this contention is that it is government’s job to indemnify every single person in the population from risk. It isn’t; it’s your job in your case.
By way of example: if she isn’t the single most vulnerable person in Louisiana to the virus, my wife is right there at the top. Having breathed through a vent for nearly 18 years, lungs racked by repeated infections, she has next-to-no immunity to something like this virus. She hasn’t much hope of survival if she gets it.
So, it’s my job, not government’s, to make sure I don’t get it and pass it on to her. Without going into the gory details, this means that any time I leave the property – and that’s been twice now for voting – anything I take on me, with me, or bring back, is rigorously cleaned or disinfected and never comes close to her until that is done, including me. And while out, I observe all the recommended precautions, which were enforced at my polling location.
Despite how Edwards seems to conceptualize it, the virus isn’t the Andromeda Strain. It’s not easy to get, and essentially impossible to acquire if you observe all precautions. But, if you’re a caregiver and still think it’s too big of a risk despite taking measures both commonsense and extreme, don’t vote; roughly 40 percent of you won’t anyway for far less, if no, reason. And then if you moan and complain about it, that either it’s too big of a risk or you’re not willing to go to the marginally-demanding lengths necessary to ensure you can vote in person safely, that’s on you for being unreasonable, and isn’t the fault of government.
Edwards also opined, “it doesn’t offer an option for someone who has known exposure to COVID-19 and is in quarantine to vote by mail.” Presumably here he means people who find out they might have been exposed or actually got it after the deadline for asking for a ballot by mail, which would be between one and ten days prior to an election.
But why stop at this virus? Why not include them all, so anybody who was around somebody who came down with the flu, for example, qualifies? Even so, as confirmed recently (yet again) by the Supreme Court, elections don’t go on after election day, so a documented slow mail response might moot any request sent in fewer than ten days out, making such people out of luck regardless.
Life happens. If you find out you’re disenfranchised because of bad luck, too bad; if the infrastructure can’t support trying to rescue your voting prospects at the last minute, tough. If you’re really worried about this, Ardoin gave you relief by expanding early voting and its hours.
But it’s not the entirely bogus nature of Edwards’ complaints that stands as an indictment of his nonexistent leadership. It’s made by his pledge not to approve of Ardoin’s plan so that Edwards would surrender any effort on his part to provide any relief to many of the very people he claims need it.
Why not sign onto the plan? It helps out some people Edwards thinks need relief, if not everybody he claims should have it. He still could air his displeasure, and root for a hopeless court challenge to subvert current law and presumably the plan.
Instead, he cut his nose off to spite his face, and herein lies revelation of his true motives. Recall that the political left cares first and foremost about its elites’ power and privilege, and prattle on about allegedly serving the people as a cover for that acquisition of power and privilege. With it, then leftists use it to implement policy depriving people of their liberties, ironically by claiming they are serving the people in the process. They establish a command and control relationship over the people to maintain their hold on power, buying off enough support through selective relinquishments.
In terms of this issue, Edwards means to maximize the chances of his fellow Democrats to win elections. The increased accommodations he demands strike at the integrity of that pair of elections, and by that he attempts to leverage lax standards into a permanent feature of the election code to make it easier indefinitely for his fellow partisans to mine ballots in their favor.
By rejecting any temporary changes, Edwards attempts to panic Ardoin and the Republican legislative majorities into agreeing to more drastic alterations – even if it means keeping some people from voting if they fail to take the bait. Because that never has been his goal; he doesn’t really want to compensate for the virus impact on voting but does want to warp election rules to favor his partisan interests. Otherwise, there’s no reason not to approve the changes and get half a loaf while hoping (against hope) the judiciary somehow comes up with the other half.
It isn’t leadership to prevent providing reasonable assistance to people exercising a fundamental right in a manner that doesn’t degrade that right. However, it is outright political hackery when that refusal tries to brings you and your cabal political advantage at the expense of the people. It’s smallness when statesmanship is needed. But that’s the kind of politician little Johnny Bel is.