On Monday, outgoing Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal punctuated his statewide farewell tour with an appearance in front of a noticeably meager audience at the Belle of Baton Rouge casino. Despite the fact that he is freshly removed from his presidential campaign, Jindal, with a 20% approval rating, remains the least popular governor in Louisiana history. While Gov. Jindal addressed the Press Club of Baton Rouge in front of a desolate, half-empty room, an hour down the road, Gov.-elect John Bel Edwards spoke to a capacity crowd of more than 570 people at a luncheon hosted by the Tangipahoa Chamber of Commerce.
Clearly, Louisiana has already moved on.
Even though I opposed Bobby Jindal from the very beginning, I take no special satisfaction in his humiliating downfall. But I won’t sugarcoat any of it: Jindal was a spectacular failure because he fundamentally misunderstood his job and his responsibilities as the leader of one of the poorest and most vulnerable places in the nation.
I love the state and the people of Louisiana, and that is why I will never forgive Bobby Jindal’s dereliction of duty and lack of basic decency. He betrayed all of us. He was negligent in his leadership, too consumed with selfish and shameless personal ambition and too animated by hateful partisanship. I am willing to forgive him as a flawed human being, but I cannot forgive him for the harm he inflicted as an elected official.
Bobby Jindal squandered a billion dollar surplus and turned it into a billon and half dollar deficit.
Bobby Jindal kowtowed to extremists, under the pretense of religion. He enabled hatred, discrimination, and institutional injustice against those who dared to love differently, and he spent our taxpayer money fighting to prohibit people from being treated fairly and equally under the law, even after the United States Supreme Court ordered him to do so.
Bobby Jindal turned away billions of dollars in health care expansion for Louisiana’s most vulnerable citizens and countless more intended to pay for basic infrastructure, commuter rail and broadband roll-out, among other things.
For the next several years, Louisiana will be forced to clean up the tremendous mess that Jindal left behind. None of it is funny or shrewd. None of it ever made sense. Bobby Jindal was indecent, and his indecency was propped up and facilitated by a lazy and pliant media, a sycophantic and hateful blogosphere, and a shallow and bigoted political base.
Bobby Jindal gutted health care and higher education. He closed emergency rooms and bankrupted college degrees.
He sided with Big Oil over our state’s environment and coastline.
He became so singularly obsessed with reducing the size of government that he never realized that he was, in effect, destroying the very things he was elected to protect.
John Bel Edwards will never be able to undo the harms inflicted by Bobby Jindal in a single term, but his 12.2 point win represents a victory for decency in Louisiana.
Unlike Bobby Jindal, Edwards won’t govern based on hatred against the LGBT community. Taxpayers can rest assured that they won’t be forced to spend an exorbitant amount of money fighting against equal rights for our neighbors.
John Bel Edwards won’t reflexively refuse federal dollars to provide health care for the poor or infrastructure for those in rural areas.
This doesn’t make the new governor of Louisiana into an automatic hero. It only proves that, unlike the previous governor, the new guy is an actual human being.