By Dayne Sherman
Talk About the South Column
November 4, 2012 – 700 words
Hammond, La., Sunday Star, 4A-5A
I was born in Louisiana. From my perspective, our state is far more interested in Tiger football and oyster po-boys than building an educational environment that makes a university football team possible or protecting a healthy ecosystem that creates good seafood.
This disconnect from the sources of our joy is our greatest downfall as a state. We like the benefits of living in this unique cultural swamp but fail to nurture its roots. We’re like folks that salt their own well and wonder why the water has gone bad.
For about six months, I have written a weekly column for my hometown newspaper. I like to joke with friends that my pay has tripled during this time due to such an overwhelming response: Three times zero is zero. But I didn’t write for money or the lack thereof.
Most of my columns have been dedicated to Louisiana issues, threats to the quality of life as I see it.
This is a good time to take a break from my quixotic task of tilting at windmills.
If Barack Obama is reelected President, Governor Bobby Jindal will go into overdrive for his presidential election bid in 2016. Louisiana will be little more than an afterthought to Jindal.
On the other hand, if Mitt Romney wins, Jindal will likely leave us for a cabinet post, and many believe it will be as Secretary of the U.S. Department of Education or the Department of Health and Human Services.
If Jindal stays in Louisiana, we’re doomed. If he leaves, Lieutenant Governor Jay Dardenne will have his hands full.
In either case, my contribution to fixing what is broken is limited. The Pelican State needs an exorcist, not a columnist.
Well, I know people will say we already have an exorcist in Bobby Jindal. He wrote about his reminisces of collegiate exorcism while at Brown University, but I’m afraid we need a really talented exorcist now.
Despite what some may have perceived as shortcomings, I have been earnest to a fault in my columns. That’s always been my modus operandi: Swing for the bleachers and hope the bat doesn’t slip out of my hands and hit a fan in the fifth row on the right field side.
But I offer a parting shot in this final weekly op-ed. Every Louisianan should realize that elections have consequences, and my question for those who voted for Bobby Jindal is simple. How is it working for you?
Public educators, what about that new evaluation system? How is it working for you?
School officials, what about that MFP funding? How is it working for you?
Higher education administrators, what’s it like watching your institutions destroyed a little at a time? How is it working for you?
University professors, what about the loss of academic freedom and the culture of fear on your campuses? How is it working for you?
College students, what do you think about your tuition and fees doubling since 2008? How is it working for you?
Doctors and independent pharmacists, what about the Jindal medical plan? How is it working for you?
St. Tammany Parish residents, the brightest red of red parishes in a fire engine red state, what do you think about the destruction of Southeast Louisiana Hospital in Mandeville? How is it working for you?
Legislators, what about the lack of respect and input during decision-making about cuts in your districts? How is it working for you?
Former Governor Mike Foster, what is it like knowing you created a dictator in Bobby Jindal? How is it working for you?
Readers of this newspaper, those who voted for Jindal and those who failed to vote at all, how is it working for you?
During the Ronald Reagan years, back in the 1980s, those horrible days of the Louisiana Oil Bust, I recall seeing a bumper sticker: “Last one out, turn off the lights.” People were leaving Louisiana in droves and for good reason.
A message summarizing the Bobby Jindal years might be “How is it working for you?”
Perhaps it’s time to print a few bumper stickers. Hope I see you at the polls on Tuesday.
Dayne Sherman lives in Ponchatoula and is the author of Welcome to the Fallen Paradise: A Novel. His website at daynesherman.com.
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