The Blame Game
Perhaps not since 1989, when the number one song that year was Milli Vanilli’s “Blame it on the Rain,” has there been a more grand fraud perpetrated upon the people of Louisiana than the incessant and child-like reasoning of Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards. He blames anyone, everyone and anything – but himself – for EVERYTHING.
From our state’s economic woes to our criminal justice system, he has plenty of blame to go around. But is that consistent with his oft-mentioned campaign mantra of “duty, honor and country,” as he proclaimed to voters all around the state back in 2015?
We know that one of the mechanisms of denial is blaming others for our problems, and with the latest “donenothing” special legislative session called by the governor – which cost the taxpayers a million dollars – there’s more blame than ever being passed around. But most folks realize it for what it is – a lack of leadership from the governor.
“He’s trying to almost circumvent his leadership role by getting everyone else to tell him what to do,” says Rep. Cameron Henry, the chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, but “that’s not how governors work.” In fact, that’s not how effective leadership works, anywhere, whether you are an elected official, a department manager or head of your household.
That’s because none of us can improve our situation unless we accept responsibility for ourselves and reject the idea that someone else, or something else, is to blame for our circumstances in life – whether it happened last week, or from when you were a child, or even 150 years ago.
But that hasn’t stopped John Bel Edwards.
He has repeatedly blamed Bobby Jindal for the state’s nearly $1 billion “shortfall” and other budget problems, calling Jindal “the most irresponsible governor who has ever governed Louisiana.”
When he went before Congress last April, he blamed partisan politics for the tough questioning he received during a congressional hearing examining the response to 2016’s historic flooding. He said, “I can only attribute it to politics, but, quite frankly, I wasn’t surprised.”
Then, last summer, the governor continued his blame campaign and blamed House Republicans for not surrendering to his efforts to raise higher and higher taxes, even though Louisiana already has the highest sales taxes in the country, and the governor has all but ignored solid recommendations from experts who had studied our state’s budget options for almost a year.
With all that, he was just getting started with the blame game. In fact, after just one year in office, the governor had corralled the major oil and gas companies into a room for a meeting and demanded that they pay him now, or pay him later. You see, he was planning his most expensive blame ever – blaming the energy industry for eroding our state’s coastline. Never mind that most folks attribute erosion to a lack of flood waters, not to mention that the oil and gas industry generates $73.8 billion in economic impact and provides jobs to nearly 300,000 Louisianans. Blame them anyway.
And then just this month, the governor blamed the House for the special session failure that wasn’t “special” at all, saying, "Simply put, the failure of this special session is the result of a total lack of leadership and action in the House of Representatives – a spectacular failure of leadership."
But even if this were so, wasn’t he elected to lead our state? In the Bible, it says, “Where there is no vision, the people perish,” and we are indeed perishing. Where is his vision, which he laments is so very absent within everyone else?
You see, none of us can lead – and neither can John Bel Edwards – when we resort to blame and won’t accept responsibility for our circumstances.
In fact, when we blame, we hand over the power to others – the control of our very destiny – as if other “people” or the government will fix everything for us, like a genie in a bottle.
Yes, liberals tend to blame. A lot.
President Obama blamed America for ISIS because when we send in our military and occupy a country, like we did in Iraq, Obama said we “end up feeding extremism.” When the story broke about Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky in 1998, Hillary Clinton blamed a “vast, right-wing conspiracy.” When Obama’s approval ratings declined, he blamed racism, saying, “There’s no doubt that there’s some folks who just really dislike me because they don’t like the idea of a black president.”
And while blaming others makes some people feel better about themselves, in the end they are simply avoiding honest communication and accountability for their own actions.
John C. Maxwell has a saying that goes like this: A leader is one who knows the way, goes the way and shows the way.
So why do we keep electing folks who know only how to blame the way? It’s a question in this mid-term election year we must know the answer to, or else we’ll only have ourselves to blame.
Louis R. Avallone is a Shreveport businessman, attorney and author of “Bright Spots, Big Country, What Makes America Great.” He is also a former aide to U.S. Representative Jim McCrery and editor of The Caddo Republican.
His columns have appeared regularly in The Forum since 2007. Follow him on Facebook, on Twitter @louisravallone or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org, and on American Ground Radio at 101.7FM and 710 AM, weeknights from 6 - 7 p.m., and streaming live on keelnews.com.