By Louis R. Avallone
It is often said, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” So, before 2015 begins picking up a full head of steam, let’s look at a few of the items worthy of noting from last year:
On last fall’s elections: Only ten years ago, Democrats held all statewide elected offices and had majorities in both legislatures. Republicans now have majorities in both houses of the legislature, on the Public Service Commission, the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education, and the Louisiana Supreme Court. There are Republicans in every congressional seat (except one) and there is a Republican in every statewide elected office in Louisiana.
The 2014 Louisiana elections provided a source of hope, or a beacon of light, in a country seemingly enveloped by the fog of Washington D.C., and liberals whose agenda differs greatly from the principles upon which our country was founded. But for those who are pleased with the election results from the fall, they cannot become complacent by these recent victories. Increasingly, the electorate is displeased with both Republicans and Democrats, and let’s discuss that subject next.
On political party participation: While the number of Republican voters in Louisiana has increased 10-fold since 1979, Republicans still have a lot of work to do here in Caddo Parish, if they wish for Caddo Parish to mirror the political temperament of the entire state. Do you know that Mary Landrieu garnered 52% of the votes in Caddo Parish, from November’s election?
And now in 2015, a new political party could be on the horizon for Louisiana because there is no longer a legal ban on the establishment of an independent party. There’s enough self-identified “independents” on Louisiana voter rolls to meet registration requirements for party status and all that’s left now is for someone to step forward and register an “independent” party. The fastest-growing segment of registered voters identify themselves with neither of the two major political parties — Democrat or Republican. State records show more than 750,000 of Louisiana’s 2.94 million voters in the “other party” category. Maybe this is because more and more folks distrust government, and that brings us to the next subject.
Pay me now, or pay me later: Elliott Stonecipher recently pointed out that Caddo Commissioners have had their salaries raised 165% since 1993. It was $8,400 a year in 1993, and today that salary amount is $22,263. However, if Commissioners had used actual cost-of-living adjustments, as determined by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, their pay today should be $13,385 per year (instead of the $22,263 they are receiving). All non-term limited Commissioners are up for re-election in Fall 2015.
Race: Goodness gracious. From Ferguson to New York City, race relations appear to be deteriorating, but the bottom line is that white people cannot possibly identify with being black. As the adage goes, walk a mile in my shoes and see what I see – hear what I hear – and feel what I feel. And until then, it’s really not fair to judge some in the black community for what they believe. But murdering police officers, or setting fire to businesses, or activists stirring the anger of millions across the country, endangering the lives of innocent people at the same time, regardless of the facts, are all wrong too. Far more powerful, it seems, is the advice given by Martin Luther King, Jr. in these situations, when he said: “Nonviolence is a powerful and just weapon, which cuts without wounding and ennobles the man who wields it. It is a sword that heals.” I wonder if Dr. King, Jr. would be too peaceful, or too Christian, or too thoughtful for America today?
I’ll Be Home for Christmas: Well, not if you work for this White House. I’ll explain. Of course, the President can go wherever he likes. He’s got Air Force One and doesn’t have to go through airport security. But just because you can do something, doesn’t mean you should, right? For example: Do you know where the Reagans, the Bushes, and the Clintons spent their Christmases, while in the White House? Except for Clinton’s first year in office, the Reagans, the Bushes, and the Clintons spent them all at the White House so that their staff and the Secret Service could enjoy the holiday with their own families.
Nothing really political here. Just a reminder of a kind gesture, from days gone by, in a nation that seems in a malaise of me, me, me.
And finally, a prayer for the New Year: Although more than 7 out of 10 Americans believe the country is headed down the wrong track, we should all be reminded of the following: “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives; and the one who seeks, finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened” (Matthew 7:7).
This prayer calls on us to act, as well. Writing letters to the editor of your local newspaper, calling your elected officials, showing up at your local school board meetings, paying attention to the city council, talking to folks at your church about what you believe, encouraging young people to get involved in a political campaign, and inspiring others to serve our community with their talents, are just a few examples of how we can make a difference in 2015.
And while it is true that none of us can control what happens to us, we can all control what happens in us. And may what happens within us this year bring us all great health, wealth, and happiness, all year long.