Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Interesting Intersection

This one came in over the LSU weekly news wire.

For those who don't follow much in Louisiana, we just elected Bobby Jindal, our youngest-ever governor (younger than me, even---egads!), a conservative Rebublican, SAOVA endorsed, Baton Rouge native and son of Indian immigrants, among a long list of other interesting and commonly-cited labels.

This story, commenting on Jindal's win and its portents for our state, is by Rod Dreher (the Crunchy Con) and includes mention of LSU football, and this bit about Wendell Berry.

Weirdly familiar for a national piece, all of it.

"...As it happened, the night Mr. Jindal won I was having dinner in Henry County, Ky., with the farmer and agrarian poet Wendell Berry and a group of his conservative admirers. Earlier in the day, we'd heard Mr. Berry talk about how we Americans educate our children today for outgoing, not homecoming, and what a shame that is. We'd been talking about what kind of country we'd have if folks decided to stay home and learn to love their little place.

"That night, my father woke me up phoning from St. Francisville, La.. 'Jindal won tonight!' he said, tickled to death. So did the Tigers, but I don't think he even mentioned football.

"I haven't lived in Louisiana in a long time, but this election makes me proud and hopeful--two emotions unfamiliar to exiled Bayou Staters. And the promise of Mr. Jindal's leadership makes me wonder, for the first time since I packed up the U-Haul and drove off, if maybe I--and now, my children--have a future in Louisiana."

Dreher seems almost regretful for having left his home state, a mixed emotion he finds common among Louisiana ex-pats. I can understand it, although in my case Louisiana was the chosen destination, and the only home my children know.

If Dreher is an admirer of Wendell Berry, champion of much-abused and "backward" Kentucky, perhaps he should come home too.


Henry Chappell said...

I certainly understand that homeward tug. Jane and I left Kentucky for Texas in 1983. As much as I love Texas, I suspect I'll always think of myself as a Kentuckian first and a Texan second.

I've now lived over half my life in Texas, so maybe I'm just having trouble letting go of boyhood. Yet even though both of my parents have passed on, and my childhood home has been sold, I feel more at home in Kentucky than anywhere else. But we've put down so many roots here, I doubt we'll ever move back.

Still, whenever I tell someone I live in Texas, and they smile and say something like, "I thought so the instant I heard that accent," I'm always quick to say, "That's a Kentucky accent."

Matt Mullenix said...

As an Army Brat I can hardly claim a home state. My mother is from Georgia, and father from Texas and New Mexico, depending on which half of his childhood you're talking about.

They both live in Georgia now, which I could call home except that there is so little left of that state between cataclysmic Atlanta and the monoculture pine forests southward. Plus, I've now lived in Louisiana longer than anyplace else by several years.

I like Texas and could live there. Ditto New Mexico. But the funny thing is that so much of what Louisiana is derided for elsewhere stems from the very fact that makes it worth staying here: It's still a local place.

This exactly is what I fear is on the auction block in Louisiana. And the more we shine in the national spotlight, the higher we rise in the national rankings---in fact, the more that savvy, worldly, big city ex-pats look approvingly in this direction---the more I know we've lost.

I'm not sure where Jindal will take us, but despite his nativity, he is very much a national figure. He will shine on the world stage at some point; lots of folks are counting on it. But all that world interest can do to a local place is devastate it.

Dan & Margaret said...

"youngest governor ever"? Maybe in Louisiana, but he's a veritable geezer compared to Michigan's first governor, Stevens T Mason, elected at age 24.

Anonymous said...

Youngest for La. :-)


Dan & Margaret said...

OK then. And make sure Jindal doesn't co-opt Mason's moniker of "The Boy Governor" either. 8)

Hey.. we'll be passing through LA next week! We should try again to hook up. I think I still have your number somewhere.

Steve Bodio said...

SAOVA endorsement is good. Is he better than average Republicans on green issues? I know Dreher is & likes him.

Matt Mullenix said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Matt Mullenix said...

Jindal's published platform doesn't seem to address wildlife or natural areas issues directly. I'm not sure if he hunts but can find out. My guess on the SAOVA endorsement is that he follows the GOP on property rights and gun issues, and that he would have answered in kind on the sportsmen's alliance forms.

Jindal's big issues are ethics reform, education and economic development. This last part I suspect will put him at odds with the needs of woodlots, fallow pastures and weeds, a few of my favorite things.

margory said...

Yesterday's NY Times ran a profile of interesting New Orleans chef Josh Besh - I don't watch the tv shows he's been featured on and missed stories about his Katrina work and other stuff, so this was an introduction for me. I like especially how he is locally grown himself AND serves what he raises on his farm.

Good luck to your new Governor.