10/21/2007 12:48:51 AM - Patrick Ruffini
"They can either go quietly or they can go loudly, but either way, they will go."
-- Governor-elect Bobby Jindal (R), on Louisiana's corrupt establishment
I don't care who your candidate for President is. Tonight, Bobby Jindal is our leader.
Jindal's 54% first-round victory
is an historic mandate for change against the most corrupt political culture in America. For decades, Louisiana has lived in the shadow of the easy populism of Huey Long, its politicians feasting on revenues from the state's natural resources. If you want to get a taste of a sense of entitlement and venality normally seen in the Saudi royals, except right here in America, just visit Louisiana. From Blundering Blanco to Freezer Cash Jefferson, the political class was a parody of itself.
A generation ago, New Orleans was the capital of the South, its strategic position at the mouth of the Mississippi delivering real wealth to the state. Ever since, Louisiana has fallen further and further behind, as places like Atlanta and Charlotte took the lead. Taxes went up. Corruption continued unabated. There was a revolving door between jail and public office.
Old orders like this always seem to die hard. Think of liberalism in 1979, the Democratic majority in Congress in 1994, unlimited welfare in 1996. They all went on for decades, and seemed indestructible.
Until one day they weren't. Inevitably, they fail so spectacularly that the people are compelled to rebel through democratic means. Yesterday was that day in Louisiana, the last enclave of welfare state liberalism and corruption in the South.
The impact of Katrina was felt up and down the ballot. The grandstanding Attorney General finished third and won't make the runoff. The grandstanding Democratic Jefferson Parish President faced an unexpectedly tough race against an unknown opponent, doing worse in areas that flooded. Helped along by term limits, the majority of the state legislature is turning over.
Epic... historic... ginormous are the words that come easiest to mind tonight.