We’re not worried about the future of Gov. Bobby Jindal, who announced on Tuesday that he’s ending his campaign for the U.S. presidency. He’s a bright and talented man, still young enough to enter other political races for years to come.
His high profile within the national Republican Party also means that he might be considered for a Cabinet slot by some future GOP president or even as the No. 2 person on a presidential ticket. Other job possibilities for Jindal abound.
The most important question facing Louisiana right now isn’t Jindal’s future but our future. The state he was twice elected to lead has suffered greatly from Jindal’s national ambitions, and history will show that his neglect of Louisiana figured into his poor showing in the presidential sweepstakes, too.
Jindal’s budget policies, crafted to accommodate Iowa and New Hampshire rather than the people the governor was sworn to serve, have left state finances swimming in red ink. His successor, whoever that may be, will be left with the aftermath of this fiscal malpractice.
His frequent absence from the state further damaged his popularity in Louisiana, which compromised his race for the White House. The lesson here, one that any prospective president should know, is that a leader cannot run from the consequences of his choices.
In leaving Louisiana on autopilot to pursue a presidential campaign that was, at base, an ill-fated vanity project, Jindal embraced ambition as a form of theater rather than substance.
His pursuit of the White House, an endless exercise in politics as publicity stunt, involved a race to the rhetorical gutter, with the governor even suggesting at one point that the U.S. Supreme Court should be abolished.
In doing so, Jindal helped reduce civic discourse to a carnival, one in which much better ringmasters have been empowered to excel. If Donald Trump is the GOP’s front-runner, a cause of concern to the party’s leaders, then Jindal surely must bear part of the blame.
Like Trump, Jindal has trumpeted a political vision that stresses peril, not possibility. It’s not the best way to marshal the better angels of the American electorate, as Ronald Reagan wisely understood.
Jindal’s presidential campaign was a wasted opportunity for the governor. But the biggest loser, sadly, was Louisiana.