Even as Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards continues to make Louisiana the only state within hundreds of miles around to mask up, he’s letting his mask down.
Whether that means a repeat of his hypocrisy last year, when he didn’t wear a mask around others indoors at a country club despite his still-active executive order mandating that behavior, indisputably he’s revealing himself in a metaphorical sense. He’s dropping the masquerade that he would govern as a social conservative which would fool enough voters for him to win two terms in office.
Until this year, Edwards always managed to play his cards on this close to the vest on this. With an ally in the form of Republican former Sen. Pres. John Alario, the only controversial bills addressing social issues that came to his desk related to items that had the effect of increasing abortion restrictions. These he would sign because he knew the Legislature would override any veto, and to veto these courted disaster in his 2019 election for a final term.
He narrowly secured that, but those elections also produced a Legislature without Alario and one with a far greater chance of passing any number of socially-conservative bills. With Alario controlling the flow of legislation in the Senate, Edwards never had to address such matters publicly, but that backstop ceased. Last year he received a reprieve from having to confront these matters as the Wuhan coronavirus pandemic put almost everything else other than that, excepting tort reform, on the back burner.
However, this year’s agenda has exposed him fully. No longer able to work behind the scenes to sabotage legislation he doesn’t like, in order to try to halt those pieces that appear popular enough to survive a veto, he has to oppose these openly early in the legislative process as a gambit to make legislative leaders hesitate to move them forward.
Earlier this month, Edwards came out against bills that would disallow biological males from competing in single-gender scholastic athletic events against biological females and that would prohibit the use of drugs or surgery to alter sex characteristics of children. More recently, he announced opposition to bills that would make concealed carry of firearms without a permit the default legal position in the state.
Facts don’t back him on these views. He asserts that the gender identity bills would prevent addressing gender dysphoria issues, but ignores that the competition bills halt discrimination against girls and that medical interventions to alter sex for children have no proven medical benefit, if not causing long-term health problems, nor do allowing these typically resolve underlying psychological issues of these children.
Similarly unsupported, Edwards claims an educational component to a concealed carry permit is essential for public safety. Yet by mid-year 20 states will have this, and there have been no reports of increased violence using handguns legally obtained in states with these laws. Legislation filed in eight other states suggests by the end of the year Louisiana could be the only state with a few hundred miles of its border not having concealed carry without permit.
That Edwards now appears willing to show his true colors on social issues derives from the declining trajectory in his political career and the vagaries of Washington politics. Increasingly, he has come to understand that little of what he wants to do in Baton Rouge will come to fruition and that his only function over the next two-plus years will be to try to frustrate conservatives. He has no political future in the state, a realization reflected by his next-to-nothing fundraising.
Thus, he has eyes on landing in the Democrat Pres. Joe Biden Administration, and the sooner the better. This means proving himself to the politically far left cabal that Biden fronts, and his articulated preferences on these issues match the ever-increasing extremism of national Democrats.
These positions he has taken signal to the woke White House that he remains eligible for slotting into some fairly obscure spot where his heretofore unenthusiastic embrace of Democrats’ social issue preferences won’t count against him, such as ambassador to the Holy See (sorry to burst his bubble, but the country’s leading leftist Catholic-related magazine doesn’t have him among the top eight candidates). Whether than will work to extricate him from the state remains unknown, and as long as he stays rebuffed in that quest, expect his mask to drop further.