Message from the bayous

October 08, 1990

Louisiana has always been something of a separate folklore culture in America, a place which produces such mixed blessings as jazz and jambalaya, Earl Long and Jimmy Swaggart. But even if the Pelican State can hardly be counted as American mainstream, there are ominous messages in David Duke's strong showing in the Louisiana election this past Saturday.

First, more than half of the white voters of Louisiana cast their ballots for Duke, which means that if it had not been for the Voting Rights Act of 1965 which gave the franchise to black citizens of Louisiana, a former Imperial Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan and an open Nazi sympathizer would be sitting in the United States Senate next year.

Second, the election proves once more that economic distress can produce ugly results in politics. For most of the past decade, Louisiana has been in economic recession if not outright depression. The victims of those hard times expressed their anger on Saturday by voting for Duke in alarming numbers. It is fair to ask, will the recession which now seems to be spreading across the nation produce similar results in other regions?

Third, even with his known Nazi/Klan background, Duke came within 6 percentage points of winning a Senate seat. This suggests that if he had not had such a visible background, he almost certainly would have won with his coded racial appeals by attacking affirmative action and "welfare" in general.

The question is, will the next David Duke not be burdened by such a background?

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