From this morning’s Wall Street Journal:

With the possible exception of New Jersey, no state’s political institutions have been more corrupt than Louisiana’s. So it’s a hopeful portent that Congressman Bobby Jindal was elected in a landslide this weekend to become the next Governor of the Pelican State on a reform agenda.

The national press corps seems to want to focus mainly on the 36-year-old’s relative youth, and on his ethnicity as the nation’s first Indian-American Governor and a Republican to boot. But as Mr. Jindal has noted many times, his story is a typical immigrant’s tale in this land of opportunity.

The more interesting news is how Hurricane Katrina has created new political opportunities on the Gulf Coast. Mr. Jindal lost the Governor’s race four years ago to Democrat Kathleen Blanco, who did not run for re-election after she messed up post-Katrina management as much as the Bush Administration did. Mr. Jindal then ran for Congress and won in 2004, becoming one of the few Louisiana politicians whose reputation grew in the wake of the hurricane. This weekend he won with 53% of the vote in the first election round, routing 11 opponents, including a couple of free-spending millionaires.

Mr. Jindal ran on a platform to clean up Louisiana politics, and he plans on calling a special legislative session to pass his ethics reform package after he takes office in January. In previous years, he’d be laughed out of Baton Rouge. But the disaster of Katrina has invigorated the state’s civic instincts and inspired a new activism that is keeping pressure on the politicians.

New Orleans had long been one of America’s most politically dysfunctional cities. But since Katrina, activist citizens have already forced reform of property tax assessments and the levee boards. They’re also working on cracking down on crime, as well as on educational reform for what were among the nation’s worst big-city public schools. Mr. Jindal can help with that and much more from Baton Rouge.

So I guess it took Hurricane Katrina to make Louisianians realize that “the current batch of idiots that have been stealing from us for years are so inept that they can get us killed, so maybe it’s time for a change”.

Since we’ve earned that wonderful comparison to Louisiana, will it take something similar for us to have that realization?

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