Once in a while, an elected official comes along who is hard to pigeonhole as a Democrat or Republican. That is not such a bad thing. Showing some independence is badly needed in today’s fractured world of American politics. Of course, when that same official refers to voodoo or some other folk magic over science, then that isn’t independence to be admired but sanity to be questioned.
The official in discussion here is Louisiana state Senator Elbert Guillory. Guillory has been in office for a number of years. He first served as a member of the state House then was elected to the state Senate. He is also a lawyer. It would seem that Guillory has the background to be a sensible man, or at least an intelligent one.
Yet Guillory provided the deciding vote in a 3-2 decision on the Senate’s Science Education Committee not to repeal the Louisiana Science Education Act. The 2008 law allows creationism and other alternative “science” to be taught in public schools.
Guillory’s excuse for not repealing the law was that he visited a half-naked spiritual healer who threw some bones on the ground and diagnosed Guillory’s illness. Guillory took this as a reason to keep teaching creationism.
With this type of logic, I bet Guillory’s closing arguments in trials over the years has been quite an entertaining event.
There are plenty of politicians out there with a habit of combining fiction in reality. New Hampshire state Rep. Stella Tremblay, who appears never to have disbelieved a conspiracy, is one of those. Texas Congressman Louie Gohmert is another example. However, Guillory blazes new territory.
Guillory is a Democrat. That he is a Democrat who believes in Louisiana’s voodoo culture and dismisses science as not worth more than a pile of bones on the ground is bad in itself. Yet he is a Democrat that would probably be kicked out of any Democratic gathering outside of Louisiana. Perhaps it is the conservative nature of Lousiana politics that makes Guillory’s politics so strange or maybe Guillory has been hanging around voodoo practitioners too long.
Guillory’s voting history is all over the place, but it usually involves supporting issues far more conservative than most Democrats would accept. He voted to extend a requirement that women have an ultrasound from two hours before an abortion to 24 hours prior to one. A strong proponent of the Second Amendment, Guillory has voted for legislation that makes stricter gun control more difficult. He voted to reduce the hours polls are open, supported drug testing for welfare recipients, opposed a cigarette tax, opposed restrictions on smoking in restaurants, supported a limit on the dates that tax and bond elections can be held, backed a bill to allow handguns in places of worship and was only one of two senators to oppose criminalization of cockfighting.
Guillory has a 100% rating in Louisiana’s Right to Life Federation and only a 20% rating in the Humane Society’s Legislative Fund. Republican Gov. Bobby Jindal even contributed $5,000 to Guillory’s campaign.
It isn’t easy to dismiss Guillory unusual political positions as a Democrat just because Louisiana is conservative. Even Democrats are starting to wonder what is going on with him. Strong doubts began to form in February 2010 when Guillory backed a senate reapportionment plan backed by a conservative group. That plan faced criticism because it would under represent African-Americans and other minorities in the senate.
It seems that Guillory has staked his political future on strange coalition of African-American supporters and conservative white voters. Either that or someone is using a Guillory voodoo doll and contorting him into strange political positions. The next time an opportunity comes to support science on the Science Education Committee it can only be hoped that the bones fall on the ground to direct Guillory to vote the right way because it doesn’t look like he has it in him to educate himself on real science.