For those of us in South Louisiana who are still partying now after Mardi Gras morphed into the St. Patrick’s Day and then into the Italian-Irish parades, it’s time to sober up. We’re about to lose a voice in Congress.
Or so it seems should Governor Jindal and other power forces in the upper Pelican State and in our Congressional delegation have their way. Looking at the tea leaves right now, it appears that newly elected Tea Party supported candidate Jeff Landry now representing the 3rd Congressional District in South Central Louisiana will likely be forced to take on fellow Republican Charles Boustany of Southwest La. The result would be a newly created Congressional district merging those of Landry and Boustany. As a result, since Louisiana must reduce its congressional team by one due to population loss this past decade, North Louisiana would keep two Congressmen rather than losing one. In this political tug-of-war Boustany or Landry and South Louisiana would get the short end since the two would likely bump heads in the next election.
Which for South Louisiana, a region that has been struck by Katrina, Rita, Gustav, Ike, the BP oil spill, the gulf moratorium and other sundry misfortunes over the past five years, the news smacks home like an angrily-blasting hurricane. Without doubt, this part of the state will be under-represented should the Jindal supported plan for redistricting be selected by the rest of the legislature.
Misery due to disasters is not the only reason South Louisiana needs to keep its full number of Congressmen being reduced due to reapportionment. There are also some bright spots for the area. Baton Rouge has boomed, Jefferson, St. Tammany Parishes have flowered. These parts of the state have costly infrastructure needs that require Washington DC’s attention.
The only problem is, the last time I looked, North Louisiana also has its legitimate needs and it certainly is part of this state. There are roads needing to be built and other projects needing to be had. Shreveport, Monroe, Ruston, Alexandria all have special needs that require strong representation.
But there is also a certain sense of irony in this mad and growing-nasty debate over who gets the short stick. The argument now being tossed around by the very people demanding representation are some of the very same people who have been yelling the loudest that federal government does everything wrong and nothing right and that it spends money it doesn’t have.
Only months ago, during the past election, Washington and its spending was the enemy.
Washington was the problem, not the solution.
The mantra was the federal government spends too much of our money, and that we have a national debt going bonkers.
Some of the same people complaining about the probable loss of representation were kvetching that earmarks were evil and seeking money for their districts was government-in-waste mode.
But now that their own jobs and their congressional districts are at risk, we are told that the guys up north are being greedy for wanting a fair piece of the national pie.
If truth be told, despite some of the self-promotional hype that certain politicians want us to believe, Louisiana is one of the states in the greatest of need. No matter which region in Louisiana gets hit with the loss of the Congressman, whether it be North or South, East or West, it will be a great loss for after all, our state’s schools, roads, healthcare, and economy are the pits needing federal attention and resuscitation.
So unfortunately, now that our state is playing musical chairs with our congressional seats we are pitting North against South, which quite frankly, is really simply the pits.