Sunday, July 21, 2024

LaRose: A 2023 Louisiana politics wish list

by BIZ Magazine

Besides calendar publishers and gym membership directors, is there really anyone that genuinely looks forward to the New Year? Resolutions are just things we’ve put off for some reason, and they’re most likely going to put on the shelf after a few weeks.

But it doesn’t have to be that way. It’s time to exert our collective will and make the changes we want a reality.  

As far as Louisiana politics goes, here’s what I want to see in 2023.

More candidates for governor

Even though qualifying for the Louisiana governor’s race is still many months away, we’re not seeing anywhere near the interest I expected with the current officeholder term limited. Attorney General Jeff Landry is so far the only candidate of any prominence to make his intentions known. 

This isn’t meant as a slight toward Landry, who has grabbed the early momentum in the race and the questionably coveted endorsement of the Louisiana Republican Party. The issue is that other possible candidates are deferring to U.S. Sen. John Kennedy’s decision on entering the governor’s race rather than letting voters decide. 

There’s something to be said for a party putting forward a singular candidate with the best chance to win it all. But since the state GOP leadership has gone maverick, it doesn’t feel like that’s what’s happening here. 

Democrats also lack a promising candidate for governor at this point. I get that Louisiana is a deep red state, but that was also the case in 2015 when conservative Democrat John Bel Edwards came out of nowhere to give voters an option to the less-than-palatable Republican David Vitter.

Similar to their GOP counterparts, the Louisiana Democratic Party is doing little to engender confidence that it will have a strong horse in the race come October. 

Younger candidates

Take this from someone who is on the downside of middle age and not so concerned about being labeled as ageist. I’m really over baby boomers dominating the field when it comes to our leadership choices. 

That’s not to say seniors shouldn’t have a voice; it just feels like that voice has been far too dominant in recent years. 

The window of opportunity is closing on those of us in the far smaller Generation X demographic, so we’re fast approaching the point where millennials will rule the day. In Louisiana, several have emerged – in both parties – who show promise as the leaders of tomorrow. 

It will be critical that this next generation of politicians let empathy shape their philosophy rather than party dogma. If they don’t, Gen Z appears ready to do it for them.

An end to anti-vax babble

Critics of the COVID-19 vaccines are speaking out as of late, with a new variant leading to more cases, to basically say “I told you so.” But once again, this ilk is putting its ignorance on full display. If you can’t or won’t grasp how vaccines work, then you’re only doubling down on stupid. 

We’re well past the point where a vaccine will contain the COVID virus, much less eliminate it. But updated boosters have proven effective at lessening symptoms and serious outcomes – just like the original vaccine.

The bigger anti-vax concern comes from those convinced all vaccines are bad. This mindset goes beyond science denial and moves straight into self-absorbed conspiracy theory.

No more cookie-cutter laws

There’s something to be said for exploring best practices and turning to states that already have effective policy in place for guidance in crafting legislation. But with increasing frequency, elected officials are latching onto trending topics that have more to do with political grandstanding than creating proposals with merit.

There’s an easy way to describe these bills – solutions in search of a problem. Take for instance the ban on transgender athletes in high school and college sports. The governing authorities overamateur athletics are more than capable of regulating this matter. Given that few have acted to do so, it tells us this really isn’t a front-burner issue.

Politicians should stay on the sidelines.

No more election conspiracy talk

Louisiana will soon replace its outdated voting machines, an upgrade that is past due. But there should be no connection made between the state’s new election technology and claims the 2020 election was stolen from Donald Trump. This horse is beyond dead.

The Voting Systems Commission, with Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin at the helm, spent pointless hours last year listening to conspiracy theorists purvey rumors of election fraud and challenged next to none of them. At many of the same hearings, local election officials (most of them Republicans) refuted suggestions of fraud. I can’t help but wonder if there might be any lingering resentment from registrars and court clerks who unnecessarily had to defend their reputations.

I don’t think this is asking too much out of 2023. They say that when there’s a will, there’s a way. But sometimes, we’re better off with a won’t and a don’t.

Greg LaRose is editor of the Louisiana Illuminator and has covered news for more than 30 years in Louisiana.

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