Louisiana Is The Perfect Example Of Conservative Policies Gone Horribly Wrong

Gov. Bobby Jindal delivers an address to the Louisiana Legislature. Image via NOLA.com

Gov. Bobby Jindal delivers an address to the Louisiana Legislature. Image via NOLA.com

Here in Louisiana, nearly half of registered voters are Democrats. In many other states across the South, similar statistics hold true, but these states are solidly in the hands of conservative Republicans. Some of these voters are older Democrats who may still be registered with the party, yet they vote for Republicans in statewide and federal elections.

Today, voters will go to the polls in Louisiana to choose between John Bel Edwards, a conservative Democrat, and David Vitter, a right-wing Republican, for the next governor of the state. Louisiana is in shambles after nearly eight years of Bobby Jindal, who was elected as a reformer but has slashed and burned his way to a massive budget deficit – something he can’t blame on liberals since the state’s legislature is dominated by Republicans.

Louisiana is one of the best examples of the conservative agenda on steroids; a state with a governor who has rejected Medicaid expansion out of hatred for President Obama, and is currently struggling with a slumping economy due to a heavy reliance on the oilfield.

Despite the fact that there are large Democratic voter bases in New Orleans and Baton Rouge, in a state with a total population of less than 5 million residents, Louisiana is solidly controlled by Republicans.

So why does Louisiana (along with other states across the country) have Republicans in power, despite the fact that they’re often outnumbered? One of the reasons is that people who do vote for Republicans are single-issue voters, and they’re taught to “hate downward” as someone once brilliantly stated on Reddit.

Alec MacGillis explains it well in an opinion piece for The New York Times:

The people in these communities who are voting Republican in larger proportions are those who are a notch or two up the economic ladder — the sheriff’s deputy, the teacher, the highway worker, the motel clerk, the gas station owner and the coal miner. And their growing allegiance to the Republicans is, in part, a reaction against what they perceive, among those below them on the economic ladder, as a growing dependency on the safety net, the most visible manifestation of downward mobility in their declining towns. (Source)

These Republican voters, who often don’t make enough to pay net federal income tax, tend to see others below them as trying to take advantage of the system. Many are convinced that President Obama is going to take their guns, or that their neighbors who are struggling to get by are moochers that just aren’t working hard enough. They show up at the polls to vote their fears, and plunge their states further into income inequality and economic ruin.

The other problem is that younger and more liberal voters simply do not show up on Election Day. Kentucky recently elected a Tea Party Republican, Matt Bevin, thanks to the fact that only about 30 percent of voters turned out. The majority of people who did vote were conservatives, and they went to the polls to vote against their own self interests.

Today can be a turning point for Louisiana, either toward a rejection of the right-wing Republican ideology that has destroyed a state already in trouble, or toward a future with a better economy and healthcare system. If Louisiana can turn their ship around, so can other states which have been decimated by the Republican agenda. It’s a question of Democrats refusing to engage in apathy, conspiracy theories, and political slacktivism. It’s a matter of getting out the vote – it’s as simple as that.


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