The Governor: He’s sure not winning the popularity contest.
Whom would an objective political onlooker likely guess to be the most reviled, detested political figure at the State or national level in the Bayou State? Louisiana, the hotbed of populist antics and politics nonpareil, stands tall among the red of the reddist states, so certainly, that most-reviled figure must be the Democratic President Barack Obama, right?
Nope. It’s not the President. It’s the fast-talking, Tea Party-esque Republican governor Bobby Jindal, according to a public opinion poll released yesterday. The Governor’s popularity is free-falling from a respectable 61% in spring 2012 to just 38% in the poll reported yesterday. President Obama’s rating, considering the “State we’re in,” is 43%. In this red State with its stifling conservativatism, the President is probably pretty happy with such a number.
The President is more popular in Louisiana than the Governor!
But what does this oxymoronic statistical phenomenon suggest about Louisiana? Or about human nature? Or about politics and populism? Let me venture a few observations, without sounding harsh and judgmental, and moreso, political.
- Strong chance Jindal was gritting his teeth when he reacted to the poll with a statement yesterday that “he doesn’t watch polls,” because one of the top reasons his popularity has fallen is that he’s gone in absentia since his re-election. He spends much more time galavanting about the country flirting with national Republican dudes and darlings, conspicuously craving the acclaim and approbation of power. This man looks like he wants to run for President, no matter how often and how effusively he denies the charge. Actions do speak more loudly than words.
- The Louisiana electorate is somewhat disingenuous in denouncing Jindal in light of that same electorate’s espousal of Jindalistic extreme doctrines when those doctrines are proclaimed by other politicians. For example, Louisianians should know by now that we can’t budgetcut our way to prosperity, given the abject, catastrophic failure of the Governor’s economic policies. But who does our State electorate rant for in national elections? Politicians who profess the same doctrines as Bobby Jindal!
- How does a State celebrated historically for Huey Long democratic, big-government populism mutate, in less than two generations, into a State that supports Bobby Jindal republican, small government populism? Hmmm, change somewhat disingenuous in the preceding paragraph into downright disingenous . . . or maybe we’re just suckers for populism, no matter its stripes?
I hope the pendulum swings back soon in the direction of moderation, now that the electorate has suffered through a series of consecutive fiscal year budgetary disasters. In the process, we have witnessed more than trimming fat: we have observed, to the contrary, the evisceration of public education, health, and government services.
The opposite of a populist is a statesman. Enough of populism, please. We crave a reign of statesmanship.
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