Is Clay Schexnayder Big Enough For This Moment?

Most of you reading this will say “No, he isn’t.” And that’s fair, because so far Schexnayder doesn’t have all that great of a track record to indicate he is.

But Louisiana desperately needs someone in a position of power to stand up for the liberty and prosperity of its citizens. Because after five-plus years of John Bel Edwards’ tyranny (and that is NOT too heavy a word given the non-stop threats, recriminations, lies and abuses he has practiced on the population of this state), Louisiana is flat on its back.

We could recite for you the ugly numbers from the U-Haul website which indicate the net outmigration Louisiana is suffering from. It’s generally twice as expensive to rent a truck leaving Louisiana as it is to rent one to arrive here, and that’s a telltale sign that people are getting the hell out of Dodge.

Edwards just instituted an entirely unscientific indoor mask mandate which applies even to those people who listened to him and took the COVID vaccine. They listened and complied on the representation that taking the vaccine would make the wearing of masks unnecessary. But of course that was a lie. Virtually everything John Bel Edwards says is a lie, and that’s been the case since he was in the state legislature.

Clay Schexnayder was elected Louisiana’s House Speaker because John Bel Edwards corralled the support of the Democrats and independents in the House behind him, and those votes made up the bulk of Schexnayder’s votes for Speaker. He managed to pull 23 Republican votes, which was a minority of the delegation but, added to the Democrats, more than enough for a majority of the House. Since then, Schexnayder has had to placate the Democrat vote in order to ward off the potential of a coup against his leadership, and that has resulted in his treating his fellow Republicans as second-class citizens in the House.

And part of that has been Schexnayder refusing to join with the conservatives in the House in fighting Edwards’ mask mandates and COVID lockdowns. Last year there were a couple of petitions signed by significant numbers of House Republicans which couldn’t quite get to a majority in the House, which under Louisiana law would force Edwards to reopen the state and do away with his COVID restrictions.

We know those restrictions don’t work. They don’t work in Louisiana, and they haven’t worked anywhere else they’ve been tried. You can’t mandate that people shut down their lives; they won’t comply. And even if they do,  a highly transmissible virus will still be transmitted. Such a virus must be treated, not avoided. Yes, vaccines work – but Edwards’ own voter base, the black community, are the least interested in being vaccinated. And he’s indulged in the fiction that somehow it’s MAGA Republicans who refuse to be vaccinated (certainly there is a contingent within the MAGA crowd who fits that description, but blacks and Hispanics are the least likely demographic to take the jab), rather than his own voters.

In other words, it’s just about a deliberate failure on Edwards’ part to address the question of broad vaccination. But now that the Delta variant has arrived in Louisiana and is generating lots of hospitalizations – we’ve heard anecdotal evidence that a significant amount of that is psychosomatic; people have been so propagandized and freaked out about COVID-19 that they’re rushing to the hospital with essentially a bad cold – he’s past that. Now it’s about imposing what COVID restrictions he can get away with, because in so doing is political power and lots of federal money for the asking.

Schexnayder made lots of tactical mistakes last year when Edwards first climbed aboard the COVID hobby horse to aggrandize himself and abuse his power to trash Louisiana’s private-sector economy to no discernible benefit in stopping the viral spread. He opposed the petition to reopen the state for months until last fall, when after a failed special session aimed at reopening the state he agreed to back a petition that Edwards subsequently ignored. That petition is now bound up in court, amid a labyrinth of motions and hearings, and it’s clear that Louisiana’s judiciary lacks the sand to enforce state law against Edwards.

Which means you now have a moment in which a Speaker of the Louisiana House has the opportunity to shine, if he also has the ability.

Clay Schexnayder, on Friday, tossed a pair of Democrats – Craig Brown and Vincent Pierre – from their committee chairmanships. That needed to be done following the failure of the veto session in which several Democrats switched their votes from backing a ban on men pretending to be women from participating in girls’ sports, to favoring such an abomination thanks to Edwards making threats and promises to them.

Schexnayder didn’t cut off the head of the snake, though. He left Louisiana Legislative Black Caucus chairman Ted James in his position as chair of the House Criminal Justice Committee, signifying a half-measure in dumping Brown and Pierre which won’t change the game in the legislature.

And now we’re back to where we were a year ago on COVID restrictions and mandates.

It’s time for a new petition. Frankly, Schexnayder ought to back a whole raft of them, one covering every single stupid loophole Edwards will try to use to avoid having to comply with the law. If that means a majority of the House members end up signing seven different petitions which get filed one by one in an attempt to negate his mandates and COVID restrictions, so be it.

And it’s time to get tough on the Ted Jameses of the world.

Schexnayder has so far been intent on trying to bridge the gap between Republicans and Democrats in the House. But it’s now clear that can’t be done, because the two parties don’t want the same things.

Consensus politics is over. It has to be over when one side insists on fundamentally transforming the country and holding individual liberty in contempt – unless it’s the liberty to engage in deviant behavior along sexual lines. There is no room in Democrat America for anyone else, which informs cancel culture, Critical Race Theory, transgenderism and the rest of the Parade of Horribles that Edwards’ party has embraced.

Louisiana’s majority opposes all of this. Edwards managed re-election by running away from it and catching a lot of luck from the state’s legacy media, which was in on the grift, and a weak challenger who failed to create suitable doubt in the public’s mind as to who Edwards was. But there was never much of an indication that our people were willing to surrender livelihoods and freedoms to COVID lockdowns and politicians’ dictates which bore no fruit in stopping the spread of the virus. A few polls here and there, yes – while Edwards constantly bitched about the lack of compliance with his dictates.

So we look to Schexnayder, who now has a decision to make.

He can run for the hills, in which case he would be little different from his legislative predecessors. Whether history would treat that decision well is a question, but politically it’s safe.

He could equivocate, letting others carry the fight to reopen the state via a petition or other means, and then shrugging his shoulders when those various gambits fail.

Or he could lead the fight against Edwards, and risk it all on behalf of Louisiana’s people. If that works, he’ll be known as a fighter and a champion of the people against Louisiana’s ruling class. But in doing so he will have made himself unpalatable to the “in-crowd” at the Capitol, for whom COVID restrictions are neither heeded nor damaging.

We’ll see what Schexnayder does. We won’t pin our hopes too heavily on any specific possibility.

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