Dig Baton Rouge

STATESMEN & SNOLLYGOSTERS

By Nick BeJeaux

In an ideal dictionary, you would see a picture of Piyush “Bobby” Jindal under the term “Snollygoster” – defined as a politician who only works for personal advantage rather than consistent, respectable principles and the benefit their constituents.

Jindal is a sellout: politically, culturally and even racially. Five years ago, Jindal delivered the Republican Party’s “rebuttal” to President Obama’s inaugural address. Among the many faux pas he made was playing the race card. Jindal has never missed an opportunity to tout his conversion to Catholicism and downplay his Indian (not Native American, Gringos) and Hindu roots. All the while, he wasn’t shy about soliciting that community for campaign funds under the guise of someone who would bring change and improvements to their lives and culture. He didn’t.

During the Jim Crow era, a phenomenon known as “passing” emerged, where lighter-skinned blacks would adopt a semi-white cultural identity to escape restrictions and prejudice. This was viewed as selfish and cowardly, since these “passers” were viewed as only looking out for individual gain and not the equality of their entire people. Passing continues today and is, and always has been, a disappointing and unfortunate side effect of America’s failure to reconcile racial divisions. However, such behavior ought not be done in the political sphere, where diversity is most needed.

Jindal hasn’t whitewashed his color, he’s held onto that to showboat it to the right crowd; not the far-right crowd, though. For them, he’s given up his culture, accent, and his ideals.

Just this week, Jindal vetoed legislation that would make Louisiana driver’s licenses comply with federal REAL ID requirements, and he did so at the command of the Family Forum, the Tea Party of Louisiana and The Eagle Forum. These groups are rabidly opposed to anything with the word “federal” in it and retain phobias of anything not 100 percent white, heterosexual and anti-love Christianity. In short, they are the American version of the Taliban – minus the rocket launchers. He has kowtowed to these lunatics in hopes that it will improve his chances in the 2016 Presidential Race, and this is not the first time.

When the country is searching for its next leader, the people of Louisiana have a responsibility to do everything in their power to steer votes away from Jindal. At best, he’s a dog chasing a car; he’d have no idea what to do with the Executive Branch once he catches it. At worst, he’d remain a conduit for far-right idiocy and further unbalance our system. We, the citizens of Louisiana, know how this man uses his signature and to let the entire country fall on that grenade is nothing short of irresponsible.

However, Jindal’s time left in Louisiana’s highest office is short and looking forward the future looks bright.
Lt. Governor Jay Dardenne and Senator David Vitter, both of whom have announced their candidacy, are both excellent choices. Both Republicans, they take conservative stances but also favor reason over political gain (at least they seem to), which, after Jindal, is like driving a sports car after riding a kick scooter on a road of nails and broken glass.

Dardenne has given everything he has to improving Louisiana’s national and international image. In fact, the ruins at Poverty Point are now recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage site because of his appeals (via delegation) to the UN and this is only his latest contribution. He has proven over an eight-year career that his one and only motivation is the prosperity of the state. Plus, he’s Jewish and he isn’t afraid of his heritage – unlike some.

However, of the two, Vitter is the more politically minded, though he has stated that if he is elected to the Governor’s office it will be his last political job. That, coupled with his plans to be the polar opposite of Jindal on policies like Medicaid expansion, Common Core, the ongoing dispute with the levee board and TOPS, makes him all the more appealing as a candidate. Still, he will have his mountain to climb.

Someone, somewhere, is bound to bring up Vitter’s past indiscretions with prostitutes and while full disclosure is best, no one in their right mind should care what he does or did in his private life. True, prostitution is illegal in Louisiana, but it isn’t like he used his office for his own gain. That’s Jindal’s crime.

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