Republican Governor Bobby Jindal of Louisiana last weekend won re-election with a staggering 65.8 percent of the vote in a state that remains heavily Democratic. It is, the governor's office contends, the highest percentage achieved by a candidate since the state's open primary was created. Mr. Jindal won all of the state's 64 parishes, increasing by four the number of parishes he won in 2007.
One might expect this to be big news beyond the state, but most newspapers and TV media outside Louisiana either buried Governor Jindal's win on inside pages and deep into their newscasts, or ignored it.
In a telephone conversation, I asked Governor Jindal why. "It runs contrary to the political thinking in Washington, which is about more spending and bigger government," he said. The big media don't want to focus on successes that come as the result of smaller government and less spending because it not only reduces the size and power of government but the influence of journalists who see themselves co-equal with, if not superior to, government.
Republicans don't do well, Jindal says, "when we are not consistent with our principles." The coming election, he adds, needs to offer a clear choice between "a permanent central government in Washington and a conservative approach" that will achieve what everyone says must be done -- Social Security and Medicare reform, a transformed tax code and smaller government. He calls November 2012 a "tipping point election."
Mr. Jindal says Texas governor and GOP presidential candidate Rick Perry, whom he has endorsed, can best advance the conservative ideas they share because of Governor Perry's executive experience, energy policies, job creation and commitment to reducing the size and cost of government.
Would Governor Jindal run for vice president if the eventual nominee offered him the job? He gives the standard answer, "I already have a job," but given what he sees as a "once in a lifetime" opportunity to affect real change, it's hard to believe he would reject the offer should he get the call.
It would be nearly impossible for President Obama to criticize Mr. Jindal's record in Louisiana, including his success in turning around failing schools following the destruction of Hurricane Katrina. That disaster has led not only to new school buildings but also reconstructed curricula, school choice and improved grades.
While President Obama makes speeches and wants to spend money we don't have in a phony attempt to create jobs, Mr. Jindal is succeeding with conservative ideas.
In his re-election campaign, Governor Jindal pledged to overhaul his state's tax structure in order to improve the business climate that was stifling job creation. His office maintains that "he quickly cut taxes that were directly penalizing business investments, which create more Louisiana jobs. He also fulfilled his 2007 campaign commitment to enact targeted tax credits that would lead to job creation in high-growth industries. Over the past three and a half years Louisiana has seen a job creation turnaround, with the state announcing projects that create more than 45,000 new direct and indirect jobs and more than $10 billion in capital investment. CATO's Fiscal Policy Report Card, which weighs revenues and tax changes, gave Louisiana an 'A' in their 2010 ranking because of new tax changes."
Governor Jindal also confronted wasteful spending, which Washington politicians often talk about but do little to reverse. He reduced the state budget by $9 billion, or 26 percent, in part by eliminating unnecessary government jobs and streamlining services.
For the third year in a row, Southern Business and Development named Louisiana "State of the Year" for attracting business investment and creating jobs. People are migrating to Louisiana after several years of emigration. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, "this is the fourth consecutive year of Louisiana population in-migration."
Bobby Jindal's electoral and economic successes should serve not only as a model but also as an inspiration to Republican candidates for president and Congress. The miracle of Louisiana can also work in other states and in Washington because Governor Jindal is the latest conservative to demonstrate that conservative principles work and that those principles should not be shied away from, but embraced.
His resume and track record commend him for vice president, whoever the eventual Republican nominee turns out to be.
Cal Thomas is a syndicated columnist. He can be reached at email@example.com.