GOP secret weapon: Karen Carter Peterson

peterson, sen. karen carterIn the final few days of the legislative session, State Senator Karen Carter Peterson (D-New Orleans) hurled a verbal stink bomb at her Senate colleagues. On the State Senate floor, she made the reckless claim that several of her Senate colleagues were voting against the expansion of Medicaid in Louisiana because of “the race of this African American president.”

Carter Peterson offered no evidence for implying her colleagues were racists. She refused to name which Senators had linked President Barack Obama’s race to the healthcare debate. As noted by Louisiana Republican Party Chairman Roger Villere, there are plenty of reasons other than race to oppose Obamacare, which is similar to the type of program that conservatives opposed in the early 90’s. At that time, it was being pushed by Hillary Clinton among others as the answer to our healthcare problems. Fortunately, “HillaryCare” was defeated because Republicans were able to convince Americans of the dangers of nationalized healthcare. Race had nothing to do with the debate then and it is irrelevant to the discussion today.

Carter Peterson should be ashamed of herself for such a blatant and inappropriate use of the race card. Every time a politician like Carter Peterson carelessly plays the race card, it diminishes the response to cases of legitimate racial discrimination that still exist in our country.

Unlike Hillary Clinton, President Obama was successful in his quest to socialize medicine, but it was passed over the objections of a majority of Americans, including the vast majority of the people of Louisiana. In fact, pollster Bernie Pinsonat estimates that close to 70% of Louisiana voters are opposed to the President’s healthcare plan.

There many legitimate reasons to oppose Obamacare. We can already see how this bill is damaging the healthcare industry. Health insurance premiums are increasing and will increase more. A doctor shortage that is harming effective healthcare treatment today will only get worse. U.S. Senator Max Baucus (D-MT) warned that the bill is a “huge train wreck coming down.” It would be ludicrous for Carter Peterson or any supporter of President Obama to accuse Senator Baucus, a fellow Democrat, of criticizing the plan because of race. Similarly, it is irresponsible for any Louisiana politician to accuse state legislators of racism for opposing a very flawed plan.

After Peterson’s incendiary remarks, prominent Louisiana State Senator Elbert Guillory switched his party affiliation to the GOP. Guillory becomes the first African American Republican State Senator in Louisiana since Reconstruction. He stands alone today as the only Republican State Senator in the South.

At the time of his switch, Guillory called Louisiana Democrats the “party of disappointment.” According to Guillory, Carter Peterson’s comments “certainly helped push me over the edge….it just showed me just how far out of tune I was, I am, with the Democrat Party.”

Republicans now possess a solid majority in the State Senate with 25 of the 39 seats. Just a few years ago, the Democratic Party enjoyed a majority of the seats in both houses of the Louisiana Legislature. Today, the “party of disappointment” is losing legislators like Guillory on a regular basis.

Karen Carter Peterson’s playing of the race card is not going to help the party return to the majority in the state anytime soon. In fact, her comments have generated nothing but negative national publicity for Louisiana. Obviously, she has become a liability for the Louisiana Democratic Party.

If Democrats want to seriously challenge Republicans again in Louisiana, it would be wise for the party to install new leadership. In contrast, Republicans should wish Carter Peterson a long tenure as Democratic Party Chairman. She is the best thing to happen to the GOP in quite a while.