Louisiana ranks near the bottom of the list when it comes to infrastructure, education, healthcare and many other things that are important to the success of a government. On a regular basis, I make the trip east to Baton Rouge, where a congested interstate and aging bridges make for a drive that could be an hour, or ten. This is all depending on whether or not someone’s aging vehicle randomly crashes and bursts into flames, blocking traffic and creating another nightmare for the thousands of people who drive into the state’s capital every day for work.
Republicans control legislatures across the South, and Louisiana is one of the best examples of what happens when right-wing conservative politics entirely dominate a state’s government as completely as the GOP now owns Louisiana’s government. I’ve lived here for almost five years now, and watching an unpopular governor toss one handout after another to the fossil fuels industry is utterly maddening. I’m not alone; even some Republicans have had enough with kicking the can down the road – especially when it comes to the budget.
So how did it happen that even Republicans have had enough of him? Zoe Carpenter at The Nation explains:
In sum, Jindal made Louisiana the test site for an experiment in socially conservative, pro-corporate governance that wound up wrecking the state so badly it can’t be ignored. After inheriting a $1 billion budget surplus, Jindal has taken Louisiana to a $1.6 billion deficit. The state is broke enough that conservative legislators are rebelling against his slavish adherence to the anti-tax pledge he made to Grover Norquist. (Source)
You would think that confronted with a governor who has a better chance of going to prison than he does winning the Republican presidential nomination in 2016, lawmakers would wise up and do the right thing. However, when you have a political party that is so heavily invested in the strategy of preaching the gospel of trickle down economics while thumping a Bible, it’s almost impossible to change course after decades of appealing to the very rich, gun fanatics and religious bigots.
Bobby Jindal announced yesterday that he was running for president, which came as a surprise to absolutely nobody in Louisiana. He’s at the very bottom of the Republican polls, pulling in just 1% with Fox News, and he’s so unpopular that he would lose to Hillary Clinton in the very state he governs. Anyone in their right mind would realize that the field is already crowded like never before and that the chances of winning are extremely slim to none, but this is Bobby Jindal we’re talking about. So why run?
The real reason Jindal is embarking on this hopeless venture is that he’s fallen victim to the sunk-cost fallacy. He’s already invested so much into fulfilling the presidential destiny that was thrust upon him, and even though those efforts have left his state in penury and destroyed his chances of actually winning, he figures he’s come this far, so why stop now? (Source)
The next governor of Louisiana is expected to be Senator David Vitter, who will inherit a budget mess he cannot possibly fix without angering business interests. He could also finally accept the federal money from the Affordable Care Act, but that would draw outrage from conservative voters who have been told repeatedly that Obamacare is the worst thing that has happened since 9/11 or the end of segregation.
This isn’t confined to Louisiana alone; Republican governors across the country have pulled the same stunts that Bobby Jindal has, but nobody has taken GOP policies to the extreme that Jindal has.
For example, when Indiana and Arkansas faced a firestorm for “religious freedom” legislation that was viewed as discriminatory towards the LGBT community, they were forced to backpedal after even Walmart said it was opposed to it. Louisiana legislators also decided their version of the same proposed law was a bad idea and voted to shelve it, but Bobby Jindal then issued an executive order to woo the evangelical Christian crowd, which caused companies like IBM to cancel plans to do business in Louisiana.
There is one silver lining for whoever is the next governor of Louisiana – Bobby Jindal has set the bar so high for incompetence that anyone who gets the job will likely be viewed as a great success in comparison. I hope Bobby Jindal stays in the race as long as he can possibly hold out, because nothing shows the utter failure of Republican policies better than the state of Louisiana.
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