The South is well the South.  And Louisiana has always been a very different part of the south. Louisiana Governor Jon Bel Edwards narrowly missed winning re-election in the primary, but that narrow loss was also very significant considering that a popular Governor with both Republicans and Democrats had 54% of the state’s electorate vote against him. To some that would be very surprising, but in today’s hyper partisan, racially and class divisive society this election result fits perfectly where we are in America and especially the South. The Louisiana’s governors race is a racially charged contest.

 America’s shrinking middle class prosperity has stressed whites in America.  As they now pine for the good ole days of uncontested economic prosperity, many whites have shifted to the right politically.   The current Republican Party is engaged in a racially charged campaign attacking immigrants of color.  It’s easier to blame immigrants, even if they only seek the American dream, and deflect attention from the economic challenges facing many Americans.  This fear tactic has stood the test of time and is a tried and true recipe especially for impacting middle America. Remember 1915’s Birth of a Nation, Willie Horton representing black male in America, or stereotyped welfare mothers who represent a tiny percentage of the federal budget . America can’t seem to get out of this cycle of blame and fear of minorities. Too many in our country are being misled by faulty narratives and gross misrepresentations.  

In the Louisiana gubernatorial runoff, John Bel Edwards may be the latest casualty of effort to divide through fear and blame. You would think that when a Democratic Governor with high bipartisan approval ratings, who followed one of the worst Republican Governors in the history of modern politics is still in a fight to be re-elected that the fear and blame tactics would be the most important factor in the race.  However, these tactics can be defeated by a better approach from Democrats. 

Failed Messaging

Traditional messaging is failing the governor.  Stale GOTV methods have not motivated new voters.  Chronic voters will show up at the polls. But non chronic voters are tired of seasonal dating – politicians who only appear at election time and are non-responsive to the needs of the electorate. Politicians, like Edwards, rely on the advice of high-priced consultants who astonishingly offer no new ideas or strategies to motivate discouraged voters to go to the polls. 

Bad Messaging Kills Campaigns

So, while the blame/fear game is successfully motivating angry nouveau conservatives, Democrats only offer outdated, proven ineffective methods to attempt to persuade more progressive supporters. Ironically, Democrats are attacking Republicans for motivating their electorate instead of offering equally compelling messages that would get new progressive voters to the polls.

In the meantime, if Jon Bel Edwards wins reelection it won’t be because traditional groups and strategies save the day. It will be because those who’ve been pushed to the outside, stepped to the outside, or just don’t care anymore somehow, for some reason go out and vote for some of his policies and this ELECTION.

This old ideas and hope and pray election strategy may not be the best.

Oliver Thomas

Host of The Good Morning Show


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