Friday, October 14, 2005

Louisiana's new politics?

Today's Washinton Post has an article about how the hurricane-forced displacement of more than 400,000 Louisianans will impact the state's politics. The potential long-term (perhaps even permanent) displacement of the state Democratic party's margin of victory suggests Louisiana politics may never be the same. Indeed, the WaPo writes,

In political circles last month, "there was talk that the Democrats' margin of victory [in Louisiana] was living in the Astrodome in Houston," said Ronald D. Utt, a senior researcher at the Heritage Foundation.
As one pundit recently observed, with Katrina and Rita's forced outmigrations and upheavals, "overnight Louisiana became a Republican state." That may be overstating things a bit, but it certainly highlights the significant changes in store for Louisiana's politics. Today's article in the Post leads to several serious questions now facing the state: --Should people who have stated they have no intention to return be allowed to vote in future elections? --Can the state, with its history of racial politics and the still-profound disparities between the state's haves and have-nots (as broadcast for the world to see during Katrina) weather this political, social and economic crisis? --Is a return to the pre-hurricane status quo going to be good enough? Perhaps the most important question is whether Louisiana can reform its public education, public health, criminal justice and economic development environments enough to convince voters to continue to call Louisiana home.