By Robert Mann
What do former KKK leader David Duke and Gov. Bobby Jindal have in common? They have both used the same language to describe and demean Louisiana’s working poor.
In April 2013, Jindal wrote an op-ed in the Baton Rouge Business Report, explaining why he refuses to expand Medicaid for the state’s working poor under provisions of the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare.
By expanding President Obama’s healthcare law, 41 percent of Louisiana’s population would be dumped into Medicaid. Soon there will be more people riding in the cart than people pulling the cart. The President is gradually turning the world’s greatest health care system into the world’s largest welfare system. The left has been very clear—their end goal here is to make all healthcare in America government health care. [emphasis added]
A few months later, in another op-ed on NOLA.com, Jindal wrote, “we should design our policies so that more people are pulling the cart than riding in the cart.”
At the time, I wrote that while I did not believe Jindal is a racist, I do “believe that Jindal and some opponents of Medicaid expansion are employing nasty racial stereotypes and ugly coded language to defeat it.”
What has always bothered me most about Jindal’s opposition to Medicaid expansion is the demeaning way that he has spoken about these hardworking individuals who earn too much to qualify for Medicaid under current state law, but earn too little to qualify for Obamacare. They are families caught in the middle, without health insurance and, as far as Jindal is concerned, without dignity.
He looks upon them as moochers and deadbeats and uses racially tinged language and racial dog whistles to demean them.
Before today, I couldn’t imagine where he might have gotten such language, until I ran across a post on Duke by a New Orleans blogger, which he embedded video of the 1991 governor’s race debate between Duke and Edwin Edwards.
I watched the entire debate this evening and was stunned to hear Duke utter these words near the end of the hour-long broadcast: “Fewer and fewer people are pulling the economic wagon and more and more people are riding in it.” (Go to 51:00 to listen to Duke’s answer to the welfare question.)
Does Jindal take his talking points on assistance to the poor from David Duke? I doubt it, but the words are eerily similar. I’ve since discovered that many people on the far right use the same demeaning language to describe the working poor.
Is Jindal a racist like Duke? No. But does Jindal appeal to the same crowd that voted for Duke by using (purposely or not) the same language as Duke? You bet he does.
Jindal and Duke may be different fish, but they swim in the same fetid pond.