Good afternoon, ladies and gents. The venerable Crawfish here. Of course I’ve been here for millions of years and me and my fellow Procambarus clarkii will be here long after you homo sapiens have departed he planet I suspect. Over the years I have seen a lot of political change and I know the difference between poop and shinola.That’s how I make my living..
There are naysayers. Folks say, “Crawfish, you’re too old. You’re a hard shell. Your exoskeleton is about worn out. Hell, you’re just a crawfish.” ‘Tis true, I am but a humble crawfish, but as my good friend, the noted crawfish biologist Dr. Jay Huner said, “Crawfish come from the Jurassic era. They didn’t last that long by being foolish.”
And foolish I’m not. And yes, I have learned everything there is to know about Louisiana politics over my long life. I have a political bent. I watch. I learn. I think, a trait most politicians do not possess.
If you ever read A. J. Liebling’s wonderful treatise on 1950s Louisiana politics, The Earl of Louisiana, you’d think every Louisiana resident is engaged in the political process and well-informed when they go to the polls.
Well, it just ain’t so.
John Maginnis disproved that notion in his brilliant 1984 book, The Last Hayride. The Last Hayride is about the 1983 Edwin Edwards-Dave Treen gubernatorial election. The Silver Fox sat by blithely taking potshots at fumbling Governor Treen attempted for four years to bring good government to our Banana Republic. Edwards easily won. When Treen was asked who he blamed for his landslide loss he said, “Four hundred thousand voters.”
On Louisiana politics Maginnis wrote, “The great myth, nurtured by Libeling, is that Louisiana people, as a group, love their politics and gossip about it incessantly in political cafes on every street corner. The truth is, the vast majority of people in this state don’t give a damn about politics. It’s rampant apathy, not interest that gives politicians the free rein they have to perform as outrageously as they do.”
The Louisiana Secretary of State reported only 38.5 percent of the registered voters actually cast a ballot yesterday. I guess that’s the beauty of American democracy: you have the right to vote or not to vote. Here in Louisiana, from colonial days through the ante-bellum period on up to Reconstruction, the Great Depression, the New Deal and the Great Society, that’s what we’ve always wanted, that is, a third of the people to vote because they’ll vote “right.”
Oh,well, at least our oligarchy voted correctly on the amendments, except on the property tax exemption for public land/property.
The irony is, history tells us that we have spent two thousand years empowering people and expanding the right to vote. So everyone can vote. So what did we get? An ante-bellum voting turnout where only one in three voted. That, folks, is an oligarchy. If you don’t know what that means, look it up. Humans seem to be foolish. I don’t see how they will last 200 million years.
For an interesting essay on Louisiana politicians through the years (I’ve known several of them personally but I shan’t drop names here), read author Sam Irwin’s It Happens In Louisiana: Peculiar Tales, Traditions and Recipes from the Bayou. Mr. Irwin includes a witty chapter called “Politicians: From the Sublime to the Crazy.” It’s a fun read. The book is also available at the better bookstores and bait shops and online booksellers.
Until next time, Crawfish bids you adieu.