I’m bummed and writing some thoughts out.
I’m used to elections not going my way. I have lived in red states my entire life. I’m southern. I like being southern. I believe in the south and its untapped potential. I want to stay here.
The national Democratic Party does not pay attention to us. You can hardly blame them for focusing resources elsewhere, but I think we can all agree they’ve spent so many years focusing their resources that they’re not casting a wide enough net anymore.
People tell you to move but moving exacerbates our little problem of sequestering ourselves off and losing representation. Plus, eh, I have other priorities too. I am privileged enough to live through this shit and be relatively ok; I should stay and try to make it better.
I think more importantly, when people say, “fuck the south, it’s a lost cause,” they are abandoning hope for some of the most marginalized people in the country - southern black voters - who are disenfranchised so thoroughly at every point in their lives, only to then suffer through some of the worst voter suppression in the country (luckily Louisiana is only medium-bad on that front). Despite all that, they turnout better than white people.
I understand the tendency to want us to GTFO. If there was talk of secession, I’d be right out the fucking door heading up to the Mason-Dixon line to make sure I’m on the right side. But a lot of people would be left to die.
Every single election hurts. How do we keep finding the energy?
This one stung. This past weekend, Louisiana had our state primary elections. We have a Jungle Primary - everyone on the ballot runs at the same time. Top two, regardless of party, go to a runoff, unless someone gets over 50% and then there is no runoff. From a progressive perspective, it is virtually impossible to primary an incumbent Democrat because that primary challenger is not only running against that Democrat, but also all the other Republicans in the race. But let’s face it, it’s not like an incumbent Democrat is usually a thing we have to worry about.
What stung so much this time? Against all of my instincts, while feeling nauseous and angry, I showed up to vote for John Bel Edwards, our incumbent Democratic governor who signed a six week abortion ban that is making its way through the courts. I showed up for him, and I begged my friends to. I told them to ignore that feeling in their gut for the big picture.I reminded them about him expanding Medicaid and how redistricting is coming up and how we have a surplus instead of being days away from shutting down. He deserves credit for these things, but the abortion ban hurts.
After all that, Edwards didn’t reach the 50%; he goes to a runoff now, and he’s at risk to lose to Republican Eddie Rispone. He only lost by a few percentage points. A little money or help on the national level could’ve put us over. It wasn’t that many votes.
Rispone is responsible for this bullshit. It reflects the hatred the rest of the state has for the diversity and - dare I say FREEDOM - my city is known for:
I can’t tell you whether the abortion law helped or hurt him; if you were only surveying my crowd, it hurt him - bad. The more conservative Democrats I know were still very angry about the abortion law, but they are practical above all else and showed up for him.
The worst part is that we suffered heavily down-ballot. Republicans are THIS close to getting a veto-proof supermajority in our legislature, depending on how the runoffs go. Meaning any of the meager progress we have made over the past 4 years is all at stake. Redistricting is at stake. JBE has managed to get a surplus in the budget after Bobby Jindal nearly shut the whole state down, and now the Republicans are just saying it’s because he’s taxing everyone too much and pocketing the money - and they are using the fact that Trump drove everyone’s taxes up against JBE.
I. Am. Exhausted.
This is why I am always so heavily invested in national politics; our local politics yield little to no progress at the state level. People aren’t even trying to make progress - every campaign is about fixing shit that you claim the previous person fucked up (regardless of party).
In Louisiana, no matter who you elect, your government crowds or just eliminates your kids’ school, your car insurance goes up, your street floods, your black sons are thrown in jail and you get cancer from the nearby factories. No matter who is in charge, the Big Hurricane could be just around the corner at any time and you might still be waiting on money from the last one.
My only hope is national politics. And whatever progress is made on that front, I have to watch from afar as my state fights it and my representatives make a fool of us. But I can live vicariously through you.
I love it here for all the reasons you hear anyone say it - its beauty, food, culture, music - but I also love it here because I see potential. People here are resourceful and resilient; they don’t really trust the system and are used to operating outside of it - for better or for worse. I know, I just KNOW, that if you could snap them out of their distrust, you could channel that rage into progressivism.
I’m not really talking drooling MAGA white racist people - they’ll always choose white supremacy first - I’m talking about people who are completely disengaged, often elderly and black and in poverty. You ask them if they plan to vote and they ask you why. And you have to fucking lie to them! You have to convince them whoever you’re canvasing for is going to make their lives better. They probably won’t. A candidate I am genuinely excited about comes around every so often - and that gives me energy. They usually lose, but at least they’re trying.
We have so much to offer but so much holding us back.