I hope it was a wake-up call. Republicans now have super majorities, despite runoffs, in both the House and the Senate and they will use this to dictate what happens for the next four yearsincluding the intensely import 2020 census redistricting. Once again, Republicans are free to gerrymander us even further for the next decade. As the anger and the “how can this happen?” gives way to a sobering reality, I feel it is now time to talk reality.
First, nearly 200,000 more people voted this year than 2015. Despite this, votes for Democrats were lower than ever. This caught a lot of people by surprise. We are told how Governor Edwards was going to be a boon to Democrats but this did not materialize. Why did this happen? Was it the abortion bill he signed? Do “grassroots” campaigns not work against corporate sponsored Republican candidates?
Going over the data is rather sobering. In 2015 we were a 40/60 state – average results: 40% Democrats and 60% Republicans. This year we fell to 30/70. We’ve given up 10% in four short years. This is not only alarming but it also signals how much further we need to go to just get back to 2015 levels. That alone could take four years and that’s a BIG “if”. The Louisiana State Democratic Party does not have the resources to accomplish this. In fact, they did not have the resources or leadership over the last eight years which has led to this exact situation that we’re in. And we are in this together.
This is politics in Louisiana. BESE was bought by Walmart’s Walton family. ITEP and LABI bought many races that would have been close had they not been involved. Hand-picked pro-corporate candidates running for Judge accepted hundreds of thousands of dollars and we all know that money is buying favor in future cases. Louisiana is at the bottom of nearly every single list – and Republican’s are proving that they are enthusiastically accepting of our placement and wish to remain there. This is even more obvious when you look at the Governor’s race. There is not one acceptable reason why Governor Edwards did not receive 90+% of the vote considering what he has done for the state. Look no further than the breakdown of votes in the Governor’s race to see what Republican propaganda, Fox News, and Trump can do to a very successful Governor that has started to lift this state from the cesspool that hosts many Republican dominated states. Apparently, Republicans are comforted by sharing this cesspool with like-minded states and they have shown a willingness to fight to stay submerged.
And I will tell you right now – 2023 will be even worse. Far worse. Deepening gerrymandering, restricting the non-white vote, and demonizing Democrats are all in the playbook. The Republican Party in our state is a very well-oiled machine fed briskly with massive funding by the very corporations and PACs ruining our state. Ask a Republican why we can’t improve as a state by electing Democrats and most likely you will be on the end of a major propaganda-based attack on Democrats citing their desire for “open borders” and “killing babies” and some will delve even deeper and call Democrats “godless”.
So, what now? That’s the question. While many hate to admit this – it comes down to money. And lots of it. Democrats do not have major industry or corporate donors. Instead we rely on “grassroots” campaigns which fail 98% of the time. A $20,000 grassroots campaign cannot compete with a $200,000 campaign. They fail every single time – unless getting 30% of the vote is a “win” in your view.
Our best option is demanding a complete change to leadership of our state Democratic party, canvassing all year explaining how Democratic values are the best for Louisiana, make a reoccurring $20 monthly donation for the next three years, and having a lot of conversations with Republicans which could slowly open the door to small changes. We can not stop our downward spiral without changing the minds of 200,000 Republicans. I hate to say it but the way out of this mess is through Republicans. God help us all.
Jim Francis is a former candidate for Louisiana’s 1st congressional district.