Gov. Bobby Jindal has inserted himself more deeply into the fray over the redesign of the state’s congressional districts. Jindal has threatened to veto any map that doesn’t maintain two north Louisiana-based districts.
I am amazed at the ways in which Governor Jindal and the Louisiana media have been able to successfully parrot this line about “two north Louisiana-based districts.” We do not currently have “two north Louisiana-based districts,” and the legislature has never entertained any such plan. This is what our Congressional districts look like currently, and this is, essentially, the model Jindal supports:
Obviously, these are not two distinct North Louisiana districts; it’s completely disingenuous to call them such, and for any resident of Cenla or Acadiana, it should be noted that your Governor considers you to live in North Louisiana.
Governor Jindal, despite his previous pledge to distance himself from redistricting deliberations, is now breaking his word in order to preemptively defeat any and all proposals that would create a coherent and logical Congressional district based in Central Louisiana and another based in Northern Louisiana.
I understand how this plays: For some Louisianans, anyone who lives north of Interstate 10 is from “North Louisiana.” But, of course, if you’ve ever traveled around the State, then surely, you recognize that it’s absurd and insulting to even attempt to suggest, for example, that the residents of Avoyelles, St. Landry, and Rapides Parishes are somehow “North Louisianans” and would be more appropriately represented by someone from North Louisiana. (And it’s equally absurd to suggest that Fort Polk must be included in the same district as Barksdale Air Force Base. Two different branches of the military in two vastly different places in Louisiana).
If there is one thing the people of Central Louisiana can take away from this whole discussion, it is this: Our Governor has the opportunity to support, endorse, and sign into law a plan that has already been approved by the Louisiana State Senate, a plan that would create a Central Louisiana Congressional district. Not only does he refuse to even entertain such an option; he’s publicly stated he would veto any plan that gave Central Louisianans the Congressional representation they have long deserved. Actually, it’s worse than that: He wants to pull the curtain over our heads and make us believe that he simply supports “preserving” two North Louisiana districts.
This certainly seems like a fair plan to me, and it passes muster:
Central Louisiana is one of the fastest growing regions in the State, and with all due respect to my friends in Monroe, Northeast Louisiana has experienced significant declines. There is absolutely no reason that anyone in Monroe should be worried about sharing a Congressional district with the good people of Shreveport. They’re your neighbors. Just hop on I-20 and drive west for an hour and ten minutes.
When Governor Jindal says he will veto any plan that doesn’t preserve two North Louisiana districts, what he really means is that he will expend as much political capital as he possibly can in order to ensure Central Louisiana is sliced and diced so that two Republicans who live less than sixty miles from the Arkansas border can retain their power and control over Central Louisiana. Believe it or not, John Fleming (Minden) and Rodney Alexander (Quitman) live less than fifty miles from one another, in one of the least populated and most rural areas of our entire State.
B= Rodney Alexander
This, perhaps, is the clearest and most obvious example of Jindal’s partisan politicization of representative democracy, and the people of Central Louisiana should take note of this when they enter the ballot box later this year. Our Governor has a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to make things right for the people of Central Louisiana, and he seems determined to squander it.
It is not absurd to want and demand that the two bases be in one district. In fact it is critical. It is one reason the District is designed the way it is. There is not a Air Force Committee, a Army Committee, or a Navy Committee. There is one ARMED SERVES COMMITTEE . Having Fort Polk and Barksdale Air force Base pretty much gets a Freshman from that District on the Committee.
We have one of the most weak House delegations in the House. We can’t afford to give up that seat so easy. Fort Polk and Barksdale , major employers and major source of retired folks, are major economic engines in Louisiana. Both Forth Polk and Barksdale have expanded and prospered. Barksdale in fact has EXPANDED. People might not see the activity if they live in certain places but the tax dollars get to Baton Rouge all the same. In the coming decades of Budget cuts to defense Louisiana can ill afford to put the gooses that lay the golden eggs in danger
Keeping that District with those bases was essential and I am thankful Jindal saw that.
In simple terms: It’s far more important to have a freshman Congressman from Minden as one of SIXTY-FOUR members of the Armed Services Committee (a committee that includes nearly 15% of ALL members of the House) than it is to ensure fair representation for the people who actually live in the areas affected.
With all due respect, we all know Barksdale and Fort Polk have expanded, but their expansions have absolutely nothing to do with the fact that John Fleming is one of sixty-four members of the Armed Services Committee.
We would likely be in a much stronger position if we had two Congressmen working together to ensure the viability and sustainability of those bases. Two Congressmen representing two different strategically important military bases could just as easily qualify for the Armed Services Committee. John Fleming’s committee assignments may be important to you, but frankly, I care more about ensuring fair and representative democracy. Either way, using the military to justify this redistricting foolishness is, again, absurd. Why is there any reason to believe that a Congressman from Central Louisiana would not be able to fight for and adequately represent Fort Polk?
Your argument seems to be: These districts are important, because any inexperienced freshman representative is guaranteed a seat at the giant Armed Services Committee table. Sorry, but I’m not buying it, and yes, I think it is absurd.
B= Fort Polk
I am just telling you what a lot of people that are in support groups for Barksdales AFB know hand have been screaming
The benefits of this district is how it is arranged with both bases has been shown for Decades. We really don’t need to mess with that.
“two Republicans who live less than sixty miles from the Arkansas border can retain their power and control over Central Louisiana. ”
Rodney is from Quitman in Jackson Parish. I have been in that area enough to know it has demographics similar to Central Louisiana. Rodney by the way though not 60 miles from Alexandria he is just 80.6.
This has nothing to do with “demographics.” It’s about fair representation of distinct regional constituencies. (And Jackson Parish, in NORTHERN LOUISIANA, has a population of around 15,000 people, 70% of whom are white).
I guess I am getting clearer view of how you envision Central Louisiana. it is something that if you charitable on a good day does not exist North of Dry Prong.
Is Winn Parish in your the spirit of your Cenla District? It is a lot like Jackson and very linked. What about Grant?
I am not sure sure that Jackson is 70 percent white 30 percent black is that relevant except that is close to the racial breakdown of the State as a whole
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Unfortunately, this is about D’s and R’s for Jindal, and therefore also about demographics and race. The Senate version of the map, which Jindal has said he will veto, would make the single North Louisiana district include Monroe and Shreveport, which have large D voting urban populations. It would be competitive for the correct Democrat who can (and do, as we have seen in Alexandria and Opelousas) win in a diverse district.
The two “northern Louisiana’ districts, which you have properly pointed out are farcical in that they include Central Louisiana (the parishes that surround Rapides) and Acadiana (totally culturally distinct from our northern Louisiana friends), are a way to water down the urban voters with rural, more Republican voters.
Jindal’s endorsed plan is a way to ensure that there will be 1 hyper Democratic majority district (the 2nd), and 5 districts that are Republican enough to be easy to win for the Republican candidate, though none of them will be ‘hyper Republican’. If we can have a snaking 2nd district that connects parts of Baton Rouge to New Orleans (which have a lot less in common than Monroe and Shreveport), then we can have a district that connects Shreveport and Monroe.
I don’t have the time or inclination to dig up the data to support this thesis, but those of us who follow LA politics should be able to see this clearly enough. For those at the top, it’s not about culture, democracy, or airforce bases. Its about keeping the Party in the majority, and keeping the incumbents elected. Unfortunately Jindal will probably get his way this time… but in 10 years after Monroe has continued to decline and Alexandria/Pineville and surrounding Central Louisiana parishes have continued to grow, it will be untenable to give Monroe it’s no-longer-deserved place as the anchor of a district.
This is not about just a black versus white district nor is it about a democrat versus republican district as Cenla voters went for Ron Paul like crazy during the last election.
What Lamar’s pointing out and what people keep either ignoring or choosing not to even notice is that we are Cenla! We’re not North Louisianians.
Cenla was basically the second part of the state to ever be settled. We share more demographically and culturally and family tie-wise with New Orleans than we do with any other part of the state because first there was New Orleans, then when the Spanish still owned Louisiana, those same people settled in Alexandria and Natchitoches. Those groups were augmented by an influx of Welsh and English families from Baltimore and Virginia just before and just after the Louisiana Purchase. These groups cemented Cenla as an area that is heavily catholic, episcopal, and Jewish (comparatively speaking with the rest of the state and south in generally) and unique.
North Louisiana on the other hand was nothing! It’s not very fertile land, it’s not strategically placed very well, it’s hilly, sandy, dry, etc. Forty Acres and a mule first happened in North Louisiana because the Americans were afraid that the heavily euro-centric population in the established parts of the state would rebel. So they marketed Louisiana to Anglo/Scotch-Irish people from Appalachia and offered them free land and a free start if they would settle in what is today North Louisiana and Arkansas. This is why crossing the Red River generally means going from a culture that’s fairly European to one that’s very NASCAR and an area that has a big diversity of churches to one that’s predominantly Baptist or evangelical.
People like to forget that up until the 1930’s the important cities in the state were New Orleans first, then Alexandria, and then Shreveport and Baton Rouge and such. Other areas experienced booms in the 20th century due to oil mainly that we didn’t get. We’ll be playing catch up on that front or decades. BUT, the fact remains that we are still and always have been a distinct cultural and economic region of the state. Cenla in all reality really stretches from just across the lake into Texas and over into Mississippi to include Natchez. We’re not really southern, we’re not really Louisianian, we’re more European than much of the country yet more ‘American’ than much of the state.
Because of our location and because of the fact that “all roads (really do) lead to Alexandria”, we are country and urban, cajun and cowboy, Texan and Southern planter, conservative and liberal, catholic and protestant, white and black. BUT, we’re none of the above predominantly at the same time!
We are Central Louisianians and we are unique and we are the grey area into which all the attributes that make our state great form a fusion that is a little bit of everything but not too much of anything overwhelming.
What we are NOT is North Louisiana. We are NOT South Louisiana. We are neither Acadiana nor are we the ArkLaTex.
We are Cenla, and we view ourselves as the Center of the state geographically and culturally. Unlike other regions we don’t think of Louisiana as an us or them paradigm because we know that our ‘us’ is a little bit of all of ‘them’. In the past when we have had our own congressman or a Cenla-elected senator, they have been ranked as the best servants of the state overall. Many of the most powerful political forces of the 20th Century in Congress (nationally not just for Louisiana) represented Cenla and the state from that centric viewpoint.
We have NEVER had solid representation of this kind when Cenla fell under a North Louisiana district.