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Advocate staff photo by Richard Alan Hannon Shot 6/4/08 00012481a Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, left, listens as GOP presidential candidate John McCain, right, acknowledges a question during a short media availability session following his town hall meeting campaign stop Wednesday at the Baton Rouge River Center.

Former Gov. Bobby Jindal has again grabbed for the steering wheel from the backseat.

Jindal famously dressed down Republicans in 2012 to “stop being the stupid party” and last year called on Donald Trump to be “more presidential.” Last week, Jindal turned his focus on the Democrats in one of his periodic essays in The Wall Street Journal.

Once seen as a rising star in the Republican party, Jindal wrote that Democrats would miss their big chance if they didn’t try to win “back some of the persuadable working- and middle-class voters they ceded in the last election. These voters supported Trump but aren’t reliable Republican voters.”

This means Democrats should support same-sex marriage without forcing small business owners to violate their religious beliefs, fight global warming without abolishing jobs and other middle-of-the-road tracts, Jindal wrote.

Interestingly, Jindal’s advice is like the counsel recommended, though not as precisely, by Arlie Russell Hochschild, a blue coast intellectual who studied the tea party movement in southwest Louisiana in her 2016 National Book Award-winning “Strangers in Their Own Land: Anger and Mourning on the American Right.”

In her mid-70s, the University of California Berkeley sociologist hung out in and around Lake Charles, eating by her own admission too much roasted pig and fried seafood while chatting with Tea Partiers, trying to understand why so many of Louisiana’s voters hate the federal government despite Washington being the source of 42 percent of the state’s budget — the largest in the country.

She used the metaphor of line cutting to explain the “anguishing loss of honor, alienation and engagement” in Louisiana’s right wing. Basically, everyone is in line for the American Dream. The line isn’t moving, but some groups — African Americans, women, immigrants, environmentalists — are seen as cutting in front. Then comes a president, like Barack Obama, who appears through his policies to be waving to the line cutters and insulting those waiting their turn as ignorant Bible-thumping rednecks, she said.

Jindal agreed, writing without mentioning Hochschild: “Both political parties have spent the past several elections prioritizing enthusiasm within their bases over persuasion of voters in the middle. One result, after Mr. Obama’s eight White House years, was that many conservative voters felt alienated in their own country. Both party establishments ignored their concerns, only magnifying the sense of loss, vulnerability and anger.”

The observations are sage but likely to go unheeded.

Democrats have doubled-down on their agenda, and the GOP's latest talking point is that Democrats have become an unhinged mob. Both strategies are aimed at energizing each party's base to participate in midterm elections where majorities in Congress are at stake.

As U.S. House Majority Whip and Jefferson Republican U.S. Rep. Steve Scalise tweeted Thursday: “A healthy, strong democracy is not possible if anyone lives in fear of expressing their views. If this is going to stop, it must start with Democratic leaders, who need to condemn, rather than promote these dangerous calls to action.”

Louisiana’s congressional incumbents are safe in their districts purposely drawn to protect them (or someone very much like them) from having to reach out beyond their base of supporters.

That’s not true in the statewide race at the top of the ballot for secretary of state. Nine obscure politicos have been jockeying for a chance to be known.

The GOP candidates for Louisiana secretary of state have spent almost as much time talking about partisanship as about how they would better the tasks of holding elections, registering businesses and archiving the state’s documents. Former state Sen. A.G. Crowe, R-Pearl River, for instance, was only one of several Republican candidates to argue that the only way to stop a future confirmation process like the one that elevated Brett Kavanaugh to the U.S. Supreme Court was “to elect a conservative as Louisiana secretary of state.”

This narrative has as much to do with math as with policy.

Baton Rouge pollster John Couvillon predicts a 30 percent turnout in Louisiana’s Nov. 6 election. But the political operatives for the campaigns are less optimistic, estimating in the 18-20 percent range.

That’s about 600,000 of the state’s 3 million registered voters.

“Seventy percent of the people who vote in this election will be over 50 (years of age),” said Bernie Pinsonat, the longtime political strategist from Baton Rouge.

This is a more conservative group motivated by national rhetoric.

Hence, the selection of the Republican candidate into the Dec. 8 runoff — who most likely to become Louisiana’s next Secretary of State — will be the one who most effectively uses red meat, not to bridge gaps but to energize those who vote. 

Follow Mark Ballard on Twitter, @MarkBallardCnb.