As it had been speculated, yesterday former Louisiana Governor and convicted felon Edwin Edwards announced his candidacy for Louisiana’s 6th Congressional District. And as I had predicted, there are Democrats in Louisiana who are rallying to his cause and there are national articles putting a spotlight on this spectacle already.
When Edwin Edwards was Governor, he was credited as being a populist and as being someone who did some good for the people of Louisiana. Edwards was applauded, and rightly so, for being a staunch supporter of civil rights. He appointed minorities and women to positions more than any of his predecessors. But ultimately he will be remembered for his corruption conviction and 8 year prison term. Some might ask “as long as he helped people, who cares if he skims a little off the top for himself?”. Well, I care. You cannot tell me that there are no other qualified people who can do the right thing while not having a tarnished image of a crook. The ends do not justify the means. His conviction means that he put his own needs and desires above the needs of the people of Louisiana. And he has not changed…
Why do I suggest that he hasn’t changed? Well, his candidacy is all about him. He is someone who seems to be addicted to the public spotlight. He also doesn’t care that the spotlight is going to be an embarrassment to to the people of Louisiana and to the Democratic party whose banner he is running under. David Vitter was supposed to be the embarrassment to Louisiana running for office this time.
And he isn’t even a good banner holder for the party. One of the first things he said in his announcement was that he would not have voted for the Affordable Care Act. Seriously? The guy who is supposed to be able to bring out the minority vote in an off year election is going to be running on a platform that includes his opposition to the signature piece of legislation that President Obama was able to get passed?
And remember, it was Edwards who helped make it possible for folks like Bobby Jindal to run on his fraudulent ethics reform campaign. He put a recent face to the historical corruption that existed in Louisiana. Do we really want that rehashed? Do we really want to hand the GOP the ammunition it needs to continue the claims that the Democratic Party is about corruption in this state (while allowing the Republicans to hide their own corruption)? I do not want that.
But ultimately this is about doing the right thing. The right thing would be for Edwin Edwards to just go away. But since he seems incapable of doing so, the right thing for the rest of the Louisiana Democratic Party would be to just openly shun him and his candidacy. And let’s say he is able to pull off a miracle and win that seat. Will it be worth it? Of course not. Again, the ends do not justify the means. Selling out our values for a seat makes us no better than the GOP. And if you cannot win the seat in the right way, then perhaps it is time to pack up shop and go home.