New Orleans is a city that is notorious for its eccentric culture and authenticity. An attractive place of settlement for upcoming artists and musicians, and thrill-seeking tourists. How does this unique atmosphere of the city influence its political structure and function?
New Orleans, Louisiana is a predominantly liberal city with heavy democratic influences. With the distinctive social culture, voting habits, population demographics, and history of the city, New Orleans is forged into a city of liberalistic ideals, though it is in a relatively conservative state.
What exactly caused the majority liberalistic political views within the city, especially since Louisiana is known to be conservative? Here we look into the specifics of why New Orleans got to its current political state, and how it displays its high levels of liberalism within its social culture and political realm.
Culture and Population Demographics
New Orleans is thought of as a city of rhythm, a city of festivals, and a city of authenticity. The culture suits the nickname of the “melting pot.” As a city of vast diversity from many different cultures, it tends to differ and stray from typical American ideals, practices, and less progressive beliefs.
Several contrasting backgrounds, such as those of the French, Italian, Spanish, Creole, and African, have shaped the social culture and therefore reared the city under loose and free terms. Locals share that New Orleans has always been driven and inspired by individualists, free-thinkers, and non-conformists. These people, through political eyes, would typically fall on the left side of the spectrum. Individuals who are non-conformists often tend to have liberalistic perspectives on policies.
Due to the mass influences that other cultures have on the city, there are waves of change that spur cultural innovation and development. Contrary to conservatism, which centers on traditional and consistent practices, these social changes are rather progressive.
There is a correlation between large, diverse, urbanized cities and liberalism. The trend is positive. It seems that as a city gets larger and more diverse, the more liberal its population becomes. This can be due to a number of reasons.
One is that those brought up in more diverse and culturally accepting settings are likely to embrace the world in a liberalist view. That means that they are more welcoming toward people of different beliefs and backgrounds because they have experienced diversity in religion, race, and other beliefs all their lives.
It is shown that living in rural and small, homogenous areas and cities will cause inhabitants to be conformist, based on traditional values, and conservative. New Orleans is known to be much more diverse than other typical cities in the United States. So, based on the trends and correlations previously mentioned, it should have more liberalistic ideas and views. This holds true today.
The minority populations of the United States actually hold the majority in the city of New Orleans. The city is about 60% Black or African-American, 33% White, 3% Asian, and the rest is mostly Hispanic and Asian.
You may be wondering what the population demographics have to do with a city being liberal. Well, in 2016, 70% of the Black population in America were registered as affiliated with the Democratic party. Any voters that weren’t White or Black held a percentage of 47% being registered as Democratic and only 16% being registered as Republican.
In Orleans county during the 2020 presidential election, 83.1% of the people who voted, voted in favor of the Democratic party compared to 15.0% for the Republican party. Orleans county has had the majority of voters vote in favor of the Democratic party in every presidential election since 2000.
The city council elections for 2021, upheld the claim that the city of New Orleans is a largely liberal city. Just about every single candidate for the positions on the council was registered as Democrat. For the city council at-large positions 1 and 2, both winners of the elections were of the Democratic party and won by a significant percentage. The District positions A-E were also won over by all Democratic candidates.
The 2021 primary election for the mayor of New Orleans had 65% of voters vote for the Democratic candidate. Speaking of mayors, since the year 1866, New Orleans has only had two Republican mayors in the years 1867 and 1870. All other mayors were part of the Democrat or Independent political party.
As one can see, there is overwhelming support for the liberalistic side of politics in New Orleans both on the local and national levels.
Policies and Procedures
The state of Louisiana is favorably Republican and carries out its policies and procedures in a relatively conservative-minded manner. Though the state remains heavily leaning toward the conservative side of the spectrum, New Orleans proves to practice liberalistic ideas in their procedures.
One of the most prominent liberalistic views is that environmentalism is an essential topic and policy. Ever since August 2005 when Hurricane Katrina devastated the lives of so many, New Orleans has made it a priority to protect the environment.
The hurricane affected around 80% of the city and caused around 2,000 fatalities. Because far over the majority population experienced this devastating storm first-hand, politicians started forming plans that could help them rebuild and heal.
Not only was it a priority for the people of New Orleans to heal physically, but they also wanted to heal the environment and stop the negative effects of unsustainable practices. In the act of re-building the city, they were aiming to make it more eco-friendly and green.
Helping the environment by reducing carbon-dioxide emissions is a liberal concept. Liberals believe that industrial growth is harming our Earth and causing an increase in global warming. To implement this belief, locals of New Orleans started relying on energy sources such as solar, biofuels, and hydrokinetic to reduce the use of fossil fuels in the production of energy.
In the rebuilding process of schools, homes, and businesses in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, people turned to sustainable and non-toxic materials. There has also been a large push to reduce waste by recycling. The city created new programs to manage and regulate waste reduction.
These ideas and programs implemented have very liberalistic attitudes about them because they are brought about by the desire to help the Earth from harm. Although it is well known that natural disasters will occur, and fossil fuels will still continue to be used in many places, liberals often take the initiative to do what they can to help save the Earth, no matter how small the measure.
Along with being environmentally conscious, another liberalistic concept brought to light in New Orleans is the acceptance of all people regardless of sexual orientation and practices. Same-sex marriage has been legal in Louisiana since 2015 due to the Supreme Court’s decision. However, not all places in Louisiana are friendly or respective toward people in the LGBTQ+ community.
New Orleans is arguably one of the most LGBTQ+ friendly places in the entire country and especially in the state of Louisiana. Amongst the gay clubs, bars, and other entertainment sites scattered throughout the city, New Orleans also holds many parades and festivities in honor of Pride.
Liberals also support legal immigration and its increase throughout the years. They also believe that illegal immigrants in the US should still have access to financial aid and visas. The city of New Orleans was practically built on immigration. The influences of those from a plethora of countries and backgrounds built New Orleans into the amazing city that it is today.
To honor that thought, there are many resources for immigrants to turn to should they decide to seek refuge in New Orleans. There are foundations, relief centers, law firms, council offices, and more, all built with the goal of aiding immigrants into the United States.
Another policy that more liberals than conservatives tend to support is abortion. Though it is suggested that abortion, regardless of one’s political party, is an individual policy, more Democrats than Republicans support this medical procedure. In 2022, 80% of Democrats were in support of abortion in all or most cases.
In New Orleans, there are many different resources for those who are in need of the procedure. Louisiana has not banned abortion at this moment, but it is legal up to 20 weeks into the pregnancy.
If you are looking for a city that is rich in diversity, festivities, music, and fun, New Orleans may be just the right place for you. It holds a vast attraction to people from all over the United States and all over the world as well.
With its local voting swinging in favor of the Democratic party and its national voting also in favor of the Democratic party, New Orleans is a very “blue” city.
Though Louisiana is well known for being very Republican and conservative in its politics as a whole, because of the diversity and many other factors in New Orleans, it has stood out as one of the most liberal cities in the United States.