During last year’s gubernatorial campaign, Governor John Bel Edwards explained that he was a conservative Southern Democrat, and West Point graduate who was pro-life and pro-gun. At times, though, he seemed almost ashamed to stand with his own Democrat Party, whose party platform represents irreconcilable differences with many of John Bel Edwards’ stated positions.
President Obama even distanced himself from John Bel Edwards during the campaign for governor. The White House would later announce that the President would not endorse John Bel Edwards, at all, even though John Bel Edwards was the only Democrat in the race.
Confusing, I know.
And then presumed Democrat Party presidential nominee Hillary Clinton visited Baton Rouge last September, but Democrat candidate John Bel Edwards would not even appear on stage with her, or any of the other Democrat Party officials from around the state, who had assembled that day for Mrs. Clinton’s campaign rally and fundraiser. His reason: “scheduling” issues.
Things are different now, after the election, though. So when Democrat Party officials and President Obama came to Baton Rouge (just this month), Governor Edwards was center stage this time, shoulder-to-shoulder with his fellow Democrats, and meeting with the President privately. The President praised the new governor publicly saying, “I’m just so proud of him, and I know he’s going to do some great work.”
Presumably that “work” will include John Bel Edwards’ support of teachers’ unions, expanding the size of government, increasing public spending, raising taxes, pandering to minority voters, increasing the minimum wage, and keeping an open mind when it comes to supporting Planned Parenthood in Louisiana, accepting Syrian refugees, and establishing sanctuary cities in our state.
If this is the work ahead, the Edwards’ administration has a steep mountain to climb in what is still a deeply conservative state, where voters elected Republicans to a majority of the seats in the House of Representatives – 61 out of the 105 – and in the Senate, where voters elected Republicans to 25 out of 39 seats. Knowing this, John Bel Edwards promised in his first press conference after the election that “we will be very inclusive and moderate.”
Moderate? The “great work” the President praised (and expects) from John Bel Edwards is anything but “moderate”, though. So, which John Bel Edwards will be our governor for the next 4 years? For many, that’s a rhetorical question.
For others, having to ask the question, in the first place, represents an underlying basis for their distrust of politicians, government, political parties, and the election process, altogether. It’s no doubt the main reason that there are more voters registering as “no party” in Louisiana than are registering as Republicans or Democrats, combined.
Consider Jay Dardenne, as an example of how voters come to believe that politics is less about principles and more about illusions, or smoke and mirrors. While he was campaigning as a Republican candidate last year to be governor of Louisiana, Jay called John Bel Edwards’ Obamacare expansion proposal “foolish and insolvent” and that John Bel Edwards was “writing a check Louisiana can’t cash”. He said that John Bel Edwards only proposes “more and more debt” and that his promises represent a “liberal fantasyland,” adding, “he cannot bring all of Louisiana together”.
So now, after he said all of that to the voters, what do you think that Jay Dardenne did next, after the primary election? Well, he endorsed John Bel Edwards, of course.
Then, as fate would have it, Jay Dardenne was then named John Bel Edwards’ Commissioner of Administration – which is the new governor’s chief administrator – and now Jay will be working to turn those “liberal fantasyland” promises into reality for the rest of us.
So did Jay Dardenne not mean what he said during the campaign? Or is it like that Adele song where she says, “just because I said it, doesn’t mean I meant it”?
The bottom line is that until we, the voters, require honesty from our elected officials, and hold them accountable with our votes, and our attention to the issues, throughout the year, the dishonesty will continue. As with any good illusion, the hand is truly quicker than the eye, and without attentiveness, elected officials will continue to lie to us, “for our own good”.
And whether you call it misrepresentations, omissions, exaggerations, denials, lack of transparency, fabrications, cover ups, broken promises, hypocrisy, or bait and switch – it’s not good for any of us, or the legacy that we will leave for the next generation.
Whatever you believe, just be authentic with the voters. Don’t lie to make yourself look better, or conceal mistakes, protect your reputation, deflect the blame, deceive people, or steal the credit. Yes, I know, lots of people lie. In fact, Americans average about 11 lies per week.
But honesty means everything, and it’s not just a “Republican” or “Democrat” thing, it’s a “human being” thing. And we remember someone’s honesty, or the lack of it, long after the details of its subject matter are long forgotten. Lyndon Johnson lied about Vietnam. Richard Nixon lied about Watergate. Bill Clinton lied about Monica Lewinsky. These are just a few examples.
So, to the new administration, and legislature, in Baton Rouge, just know the voters will remember your honesty too, as you serve our state. We can handle the truth, we just shouldn’t be expected to manage our lives – or continue to vote for you – in the absence of it.