Though I am content to live out my life in political retirement I am given to a flight of fantasy as to what I would do if I could, from behind the curtain, control the thinking of the next governor of Louisiana.
Like anyone else who comes not from a legal/political background but from a business/civic one, I would set a few simple goals. In business, despite what one may hear in today’s media about social justice, the only goal of a company or corporation is to make a profit and to keep as much as possible for its shareholders, the owners of the business. Simple and to the point.
In governing the only goal has never been defined better than the three principles set out in the Declaration of Independence: life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Just as in business, simple and to the point, but rarely if ever addressed. The reason these are not tackled is that there is an ocean of difference between governing and politics. In our state all we have ever had is political leadership, not enlightened governing.
Without getting too deep into the weeds on how to achieve governing goals, let me just discuss some aspects of setting them out. In my memory, no Louisiana governor has ever defined a vision to accomplish any ends. Instead, as I noted, politics shrouds every effort, and by succumbing to politics there are no long-term strategies to achieve anything. Worse, because there has never been any vision based on set-out goals the leader of our state has nothing to use to attract the people to his or her cause.
No vision, no buy in; no buy in, no achievement of goals, it is that simple. And we all know the results of this, last place in almost everything.
So, how would I define these metrics for some imaginary governor?
Life, obviously the expectation that one can live in peace and security. That one can expect a quality education for children, a reasonable baseline of healthcare, and protection from crime and corruption. That one’s life is valued by all equally and that one can expect the same level of respect that he/she must share with all others.
Liberty, the blessings of being able to go where one wants, do what one wants, and think what one wants, constrained only by a limited framework of law that assures these blessings for the majority of citizens. A freedom from the excesses of a government that tries to impose itself onto the liberty of the individual. And the freedom from excess taxation that violates one’s liberty by taking away one’s ability to enjoy the fruits of his labor.
Pursuit of Happiness, by employing the first two principles effectively, one has the freedom to create his or her own definition of happiness and to have a reasonable expectation of achieving it. It is not a guarantee of happiness, only the framework within which one can define it and a pursue it without unreasonable interference from others or government.
I am sure many others who would define these terms, these goals, in different ways and that is as it should be. Nevertheless, there is only one way to lead Louisiana out of the wilderness and that is to actually define goals and then engage the people by portraying a vision of what we could be when they are achieved.
As I said, this musing is but a flight of fantasy as I recognize that leaders have yet to, and sadly may never, emerge who can disdain the personal politics of power in order to unselfishly lead the people to the Promised Land. But I still can dream of time when we can achieve a utopia in which all our people are free to use their talents and entrepreneurial spirit within a framework of limited government to achieve their own definition of happiness.
A time when the people look to themselves and their family, not to government, to be happy.