Jin­dal: Blue­print for a Repub­li­can come­back

The Washington Times Weekly - - Commentary - MICHAEL STEELE

As the na­tion fo­cused on pres­i­den­tial cam­paigns — who’s up in the polls and who’s rais­ing the most money — in Louisiana a quiet revo­lu­tion oc­curred. The Repub­li­can Party, which has had it pretty rough of late, found its foot­ing, in the elec­tion of the first In­dian Amer­i­can to the of­fice of gov­er­nor. Gov­er­nor-elect Bobby Jin­dal gave Louisianans a fresh and win­ning mes­sage of com­pe­tency, good gov­er­nance and high eth­i­cal stan­dards. In do­ing so, he proved the “con­ven­tional wis­dom” wrong and pro­vided Repub­li­cans across this coun­try with a blue­print for suc­cess.

Mr. Jin­dal suc­cess­fully tapped into the frus­tra­tion and skep­ti­cism that vot­ers have with their gov­ern­ment. In a very per­sonal and im­por­tant way, he made it clear that vot­ers would no longer have to ac­cept cor­rup­tion and in­com­pe­tence as gov­ern­ment’s way of do­ing busi­ness. The foun­da­tion of his mes­sage fo­cused on restor­ing the pub­lic’s trust in its gov­ern­ment through poli­cies that freed up cap­i­tal and locked down cor­rup­tion. A Jin­dal ad­min­is­tra­tion would be some­thing dif­fer­ent.

Through­out his cam­paign, Mr. Jin­dal ad­vo­cated cre­at­ing jobs by elim­i­nat­ing taxes that pre­vent job creators from en­ter­ing the mar­ket­place and ex­pand­ing their busi­nesses. In ad­di­tion, he stressed the im­por­tance of stream­lin­ing Louisiana’s reg­u­la­tory process to make it fair, pre­dictable and trans­par­ent. But per­haps what res­onated most with vot­ers was his hon­est ac­knowl­edg­ment of Louisiana’s strug­gle to deal ef­fec­tively with crime and cor­rup­tion and his will­ing­ness to tar­get the un­der­ly­ing causes of most crimes and to ag­gres­sively pur­sue reme­dies that will have a long-last­ing pos­i­tive im­pact. It was his tire­less ef­fort to in­volve the peo­ple of Louisiana in mak­ing gov­ern­ment work for them, to lis­ten to them and to act in their best in­ter­est that gave vot­ers con­fi­dence in the lead­er­ship of Bobby Jin­dal.

Now, Repub­li­cans across the coun­try should take note of the suc­cess of the gov­er­nor-elect and rid them­selves of the old play­books. Now is the time to ex­pand our reach and our mes­sage be­yond our com­fort zone and to more di­rectly en­gage vot­ers in precincts that we have lost in the past. We can­not fall into the trap of blindly fol­low­ing “na­tional trends” or dis­count­ing sec­tions of the elec­torate be­cause “they won’t vote for us.” Rather than shy­ing away from for­merly less fa­vor­able parts of Louisiana, the Jin­dal cam­paign sched­uled count­less per­sonal ap­pear­ances in th­ese ar­eas. The re­sult was of the 52 parishes Gov. Kath­leen Blanco won in 2003, Mr. Jin­dal led in 49 of them on Elec­tion Day. As for­mer House Speaker Tip O’Neill said: “All pol­i­tics is lo­cal.” Repub­li­cans can win when we take our pos­i­tive mes­sage di­rectly to vot­ers. Mr. Jin­dal has shown us how.

The per­sonal ap­pear­ances al­lowed vot­ers to get to know Mr. Jin­dal and pro­tected his im­age against the neg­a­tive at­tacks and racist over­tures by his op­po­nents and the Louisiana Demo­cratic Party. The vot­ers in Louisiana put race aside. They looked at Mr. Jin­dal’s proven abil­ity to lead and they lis­tened to his mes­sage of mak­ing Louisiana bet­ter — to­gether.

Bobby Jin­dal is a true Amer­i­can suc­cess story. His fam­ily came to this coun­try seek­ing op­por­tu­nity and found it in Louisiana. And now, Louisiana has found its op­por­tu­nity with Mr. Jin­dal as gov­er­nor. The state has an in­com­ing chief ex­ec­u­tive who is de­ter­mined to re­store the pub­lic’s trust in its gov­ern­ment and make Louisiana’s econ­omy an ex­am­ple that oth­ers will soon fol­low.

As we look to 2008 and be­yond, the old rules no longer ap­ply. Thank good­ness. Mr. Jin­dal rep­re­sents the next gen­er­a­tion of Repub­li­can lead­ers who will de­fine a new vi­sion for our cities and our states. They do not fear change but rather em­brace it with an un­der­stand­ing of the pos­si­bil­i­ties of to­mor­row. Louisiana saw the pos­si­bil­i­ties of to­mor­row and elected Bobby Jin­dal gov­er­nor.

Michael Steele is Chair­man of GOPAC

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