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Gridlock produces better LA govt than leftist agenda

As the run-up to the inauguration of Gov.-elect John Bel Edwards proceeds, increasingly the left and its media allies will try to propagate the narrative that the best policy outcomes will come from the Republican-led legislature bending to the will of the new Democrat governor, ignoring the flaw fatal to that argument.

My Advocate colleague Stephanie Grace attempts this in defending the attempt of Edwards to swing the election of House Speaker to a Democrat, despite the fact that Republicans have about 60 percent of the seats in the body. This affront to the notion of majority rule and popular representation she justifies on two bases, that it has happened before and it would provide for more “productive” government.

I addressed that first notion recently, pointing out that when the minority Republicans corralled the job in 2007 they trailed Democrats by just one seat and no party had an absolute majority, the only time this occurred in modern House history. A precedent of a party as small as the House Democrats today nevertheless having one of its own made chamber leader did occur during Republican former Gov. Mike Foster’s second term, but Foster himself did not differ tremendously in ideology with the then-majority Democrats, having been one himself right up to his first election.


Top job to speak volumes about Edwards, Democrats

Gov.-elect John Bel Edwards and the rest of Louisiana’s Democrats face a decision the answer to which can influence whether his shock victory this fall signals any real life in the party as a relevant statewide political agent.

Despite a hard left agenda masked by moderate platitudes here and there, Edwards took advantage of fluky conditions to become the first state statewide-elected official to win as a Democrat since 2007. This glimmer of hope for a battered party will stay a one-off event unless Democrats act to capitalize by forsaking a hyper-liberal agenda in a center-right state and governing, as Edwards alleges he will, in the center.

And thus comes a big test for Edwards to practice what he preached. Recently candidate qualification occurred for each major party’s state central committee (and parish executive committee) seats. For Democrats, registered Democrats during the presidential preference primary election in March may select a male and female candidate in each state House district, although many will not have that chance as the majority of these spots were uncontested.


Decision again looms for Kennedy's political future

At this time last year, Louisiana Treasurer John Kennedy contemplated whether he should leverage an assumedly successful reelection into a run for the Senate in 2016 or to take a stab at running for governor this year. Now at this time this year, the Republican contemplates whether he should leverage a successful reelection into a run for the Senate next year or to take a stab at running for governor in 2019.

Facing a crowded field of Republicans, then Kennedy had no guarantee that he could outpace it, especially with Sen. David Vitter leading it. By contrast, no likely Senate competitors had enough positive statewide exposure as did he, or nearly as much money at his disposal. In the end, Kennedy deferred by endorsing Vitter, the favorite who if won then could appoint his own successor to fill out the term. Kennedy very well might have scored that bonus as among major Republicans only he and Vitter had built political careers trying to fuse populism and conservatism.

Then the voters pulled a fast one and sent Vitter down to defeat at the hands of Democrat state Rep. John Bel Edwards, which caused Vitter to keep his office in play by announcing he would not run for reelection. As Kennedy stood a decent chance of becoming the Senate placeholder, a new job that would have brought electoral benefits, this actually slightly degraded his chances for next fall. But as a survey showed, commissioned by the political action committee formed to support him, he still retains the advantage over names anticipated to run that could win.


Moving N.O. monuments lacks foresight, tolerance

At a public meeting to gather input on whether New Orleans should tear down four historic monuments, the intemperance and intolerance most often exhibited by supporters of that notion illustrates exactly the imperative of, for the most part, their preservation as is.

An idea harbored by Democrat New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu that he made public almost six months ago advocates removal of statues of three historical figures – Robert E. Lee at the top of a column within Lee Circle, P.G.T. Beauregard at the main entrance to City Park, Jefferson Davis at the intersection of Canal Street and the eponymous Parkway – and the Battle of Liberty Place monument, which doesn’t actually reside at the location where the Reconstruction-era fracas occurred, from city grounds, with installation of them perhaps in museums. All of these fixtures having existed a minimum of a century, many don’t want them removed (including a healthy minority of blacks) even as some special interests have argued that somehow these offend because they appear to valorize figures and events that promote racism.

The meeting turned raucous with bombastic displays from representatives of both sides of the argument, but with the excitability heavily weighed towards the monument opponents, demonstrating again that in robust democracies that the right to take offense at some assumed slight exists only because full political rights and protection against discrimination already have been achieved by the group claiming aggrieved status. No one has the right not to feel offended in our system of government, but as the objects in question reside on public property, informed democratic vetting by policy-makers as to whether the city should allow these to stand their grounds should prevail.


The Advocate column, Dec. 13, 2015

Religious liberty executive order would do more harm than good