The Louisiana Democratic Party has endorsed unrepentant convicted felon Edwin Edwards for Louisiana’s 6th congressional district. The seat is an open seat with no incumbent because the current office holder is Bill Cassidy, one of the Republican challengers to Democratic incumbent Senator Mary Landrieu.
First, read this post about why I oppose the Edwin Edwards candidacy. Now that the Louisiana Democratic party has endorsed him I have been getting grief from some fellow progressives about my refusal to jump aboard the Edwin Edwards bandwagon.
Some suggest that I oppose allowing felons back into society. That is false. I supported Malik Rahim for Congress when he ran against Bill Jefferson and Joseph Cao. He was a convicted felon but unlike Edwards, Rahim spent his post prison time helping others instead of helping himself.
And let’s just ignore for a second the fact that it is just wrong to support Edwards because of his criminal background that should not be trusted. Let’s ignore that supporting his candidacy is the ultimate “the ends justifies the means” statement. Let’s look at this from a purely political standpoint. Senator Landrieu is facing a difficult reelection campaign. All of her elections have been close, but this one is going to be the closest yet. Does she really need to have the baggage of an Edwin Edwards candidacy being used against her? I can imagine the Bill Cassidy or Col. Rob Maness ads now. “Look at Mary Landrieu, she is supported by Democrats. These same Democrats support convicted felon Edwin Edwards”. Democrats nationwide are struggling to keep hold of the Senate. Even if Edwards can pull off a win in this election, is one additional seat in the house worth losing the Senate? I don’t think so.
I lived in Maryland when the Edwards/Duke election took place. And had I been living in Louisiana and had I been of voting age I would have absolutely voted for Edwards against Duke. That time voting for the crook is important. This time there is no Duke. This time rejecting the crook is important. That election embarrassed Louisiana nationwide. And it wasn’t just because we had a Klansman running. It was also because that opponent of the Klansman was using the phrase “vote for the crook” to try and win. This will be another embarrassment to both Louisiana and Democrats. I wonder how many other Republicans will be able to leverage Democratic support for Edwards into political points. Look, it may very well be the case that Edwards could win and that his win would have no negative impact on anyone else running. But in this election I fear that we cannot take that risk. And I fear that the endorsement of Edwards by the Louisiana Democratic Party could very well be the nail in the coffin of the Landrieu campaign.
But now the second is over, and we should not ignore the fact that regardless of his ability to win that we should be rejecting the Edwards candidacy. The ends do not justify the means. Edwin Edwards to this day insists that he did no wrong. He is delusional. He is greedy. He is selfish. He needs to go away. At the end of the day I have two children. I have to be able to look them in the eye and set a good example for them. I cannot do so while supporting Edwards and I cannot support a party that endorses corruption like the Louisiana Democratic Party just did.
When I first heard of the possibility of an Edwards campaign I said that if the Louisiana Democratic Party endorses Edwards that I would cut my ties with the party. I intend to follow through on that promise. I can fight for progressive causes without waiving the banner of the Democratic party. Other states have benefited with a progressive third party pushing for progressive issue. I will still likely vote for and support progressive candidates despite their party affiliation. I will vote for Cedric Richmond and Mary Landrieu. But I refuse to do so as a member of a party that holds on to past corruption instead of building to the future. If it would be possible to be a registered Democrat nationally while rejecting the state party I would do so. But there seems to be no way to do that.
Update: I found out that you can change your voter registration online. If you do leave the party, tweet @LaDemos and make sure to use the hashtag #ILeftLADemos