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Liberal Landrieu not enough so for hard left

Clear-headed, politically-knowledgeable Louisianans surely are scratching their heads over a piece in a national opinion journal that declares New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu insufficiently liberal.

Appearing in the decreasingly center-left New Republic (which has had to head further left to recapture the luster lost through the Glass Affair, among other problems), the article by one Michael Stein – who has demonstrated far left chops in work for the extremist web site Truthout – complains Landrieu hews too close to the political middle. He calls Landrieu a “run-of-the-mill centrist Democrat, one who appeals to the left with illusory calls for progress even as he ingratiates himself with center-right supporters by straddling the ideological line.”

Really? A review of Landrieu’s issue preferences and actions as mayor reveals otherwise. Let’s check them off:

Economics. Landrieu instigated and got into ordinance a counterproductive “living wage” for city workers and as part of contracting, and slowly has implemented it. He issued an executive order to begin a process that would lead to achieving the mythical absence of “pay equality.” He started a program in city government to browbeat developers and landlords into reducing rents citywide. He put into operation an unneeded public hospital and maneuvered the agency that oversees transit to bring online wasteful streetcar service. He has backed several tax increases, to which voters on some have reacted skeptically. Such is his thirst for more to spend that he even wanted the city to enforce a “balcony tax.” The city’s budget has grown from 2011 to 2017 by over a third, going from about three-quarters of a billion spent to over $1 billion in that time. Despite that, Landrieu has cut back on police personnel, choosing with a largely-pliant City Council to spend elsewhere on alleged crime preventions programs such as midnight basketball, and as a result faces a crime rate now significantly increasing, yet rejects state assistance for political reasons.

Social issues. As part of his restructuring of police functions, Landrieu invited and instituted a consent decree that has had the effect of making New Orleans a sanctuary city, despite repeated erroneous vows otherwise. He enthusiastically has supported and enacted essentially worthless gun control measures. He backed same-sex marriage and gives short shrift to religious freedom when it conflicts with endorsements of homosexual behavior. He elevated his profile considerably when spearheading the effort to raze from their spots and relocate statues connected to the Confederacy and its aftermath. And, even has he has tried to stay away from the issue of abortion and acted in obscurant fashion on it, this self-professed Catholic as a state legislator voted against pro-life protections in the main.

Beyond the city. Landrieu has identified the myth of catastrophic anthropogenic global warming as one of the most important existential threats to New Orleans and has established bureaucracy to deal with it. He supports catch-and-release and porous borders policies when discussing illegal immigration. He also opposes dumping or reining in the excesses of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

Only if one wears very leftist-tinted glasses – as Stein appears to do – can in any way these preferences not seem liberal enough. That he ignorantly believes Democrats should run even farther left than the gaping distance the national party has put between itself and America’s center-right public as a whole (fearing “one party representing the far right and another party representing the center-right,” when in fact the contest today is between a party on the far left and another on the center-right) confirms this misjudgment.

Make no mistake, on a standard seven-point scale of ideological identification that political scientists use to judge a survey respondent’s ideological orientation, with seven as most liberal Landrieu would rate at least a six. Yet with a national party that strides ever more to embracing a lunatic fringe, to its adherents maybe Landrieu doesn’t seem liberal enough.

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