The crowded field of contenders for the GOP presidential nomination grew by one this week as Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal threw his hat into the ring. The governor, never one to shy away from bold speech, took aim at the Washington establishment as he introduced himself to the nation.
“Today’s Republican Party in Washington has been beaten into submission and is increasingly afraid to speak the truth,” said Jindal, announcing his candidacy in his hometown of Baton Rouge. “It’s time to say what everyone is thinking — the emperors in Washington are not wearing any clothes. In case it’s not clear by now, I’m running for President without permission from headquarters in Washington, D.C. But rest assured — I’m tanned, rested, and ready for this fight.”
Jindal said that most of the politicians in Washington were “selfish followers,” unwilling to put the country’s best interests ahead of their own. He promised that he would not use polls to determine where he should land on any particular issue. “I will never lead from behind,” he said.
Central to Jindal’s speech – and perhaps his campaign – was his background as the son of Indian immigrants. “Forty-four years ago, a young couple who had never been on an airplane before left their home on the other side of the world to come to a place called America […] To them, America represented all that was good in the world, where you could get ahead if you worked hard and played by the rules. A place where what matters is the content of your character, not the color of your skin, the zip code you were born in, or your family’s last name.”
A New Direction
There was a time when the conventional wisdom was that Jindal was a rising star in the GOP, with some even daring to call him the next Ronald Reagan. His star has cooled since then, but an effective 2016 campaign could be enough to reignite the spark. His message should resonate with conservatives who are tired of Republicans who only pay lip service to traditional ideals. Everything about him speaks to a true conservative in every sense of the word, and he stands an excellent chance of rising above the pack.
“Jeb Bush is saying that we need to hide our conservative ideals,” Jindal said. “But the truth is, if we go down that road again, we will lose again. Let’s do something new, let’s endorse our own principles for a change. Let’s boldly speak the truth without fear.”
Even if Jindal’s campaign is unsuccessful, his message is on point. His is a voice for the frustrated conservative voter. Our democracy is supposed to ensure that our voices are represented at the highest levels of government. Our values reflected. That hasn’t been the case for a long time, and it’s good to see politicians who understand that.