Tennessee Republican Problem


Tennessee Republican legislators need to free themselves from a fear of the Republican governor’s system of rewards, punishments, and contract lobbyists.

Unseat Haslam?

I am wondering whether it is time to form a Republican or Tea Party group that aims to unseat Tennessee governor Haslam.  Maybe a group of Republicans who, if the party machine balks, will find a suitable Democrat to support in order to send a clear message to Nashville.

Tennessee Problems

With a majority in the state house and senate and a Republican governor in office, Republicans in Tennessee have been wasting their finite political capital and therefore face an increasingly narrow window of opportunity to make real progress in addressing the state’s many problems.  Let’s list a few:

  • A labor vacuum created by the socialist welfare state that makes it more comfortable for those best suited for low-skilled work to stay in their taxpayer subsidized homes than to do productive, paid work
  • Unsustainable influx and residual population of illegal immigrants that flows over our borders to fill the aforesaid labor vacuum
  • A reliance upon the Federal teat that shows itself in the eagerness with which Haslam sought the spigot for Race to the Top education dole
Governor’s Agenda Hits “Sitting Targets”

Instead of tackling any one of the difficult tasks that a responsible and trustworthy elected official would apprehend a moral obligation to confront, it appears that Mr. Haslam wishes to “accomplish” only a couple of “easy” things in his first, and hopefully only term.   He seems unwilling, or perhaps feels he is unequal to the task of accomplishing meaningful work that would entail encountering strong opposition by well-funded and extremely vocal entrenched interest groups.

One emailed communication I’ve read declares that Haslam has instead gone after both teachers and state employees, “sitting targets,” which came as a surprise to the writer, because neither related “issue” was talked about during the campaign.  Teachers and state employees are, largely, compliant groups of hard-working, dedicated individuals whose remuneration is low in comparison to their effort.  Legislative attempts to remove what little protection they have in what is already a “right to work” state amounts to little more than tormenting a captive population.

Tea Party Marginal Art


I’ve been meaning to post a report, but have been busy trying to meet other deadlines than those I have set for myself.  The most obvious result has been a lack of regular and timely blog posts.  For instance, the image above I snapped sans flash as I approached a public venue for a political meeting on the evening of 1 March.  I’d intended to write briefly about the proceedings and to that end kept the event’s printed agenda which I marked up with notes and doodles.  My habit of scribbling in the margins and other white spaces of documents during discussions serves to focus my mind during the event and to categorize memory for later retrieval.

While I don’t propose to report on the sequence of events or statements made during what was the second local Tea Party meeting I have attended this year, I was pleased and not surprised at all by the fact that I observed none of the stereotypical behaviors ascribed to these loose coalitions of citizens who wish to protest overreaching government programs on every level and to return the United States of America to constructionist constitutional rule of law.  I observed no racist speech, no vilification of elected officials or other people, no incitements to violence nor to stop paying taxes, no tin-foil beanies worn or carried by those in attendance. 

What I observed that irked me were calls for greater centralization and unification between the various groups active in the local three or four county region.  Any such centralization will inevitably lead to an embryonic bureaucracy and move to institutionalize whatever it is the combined group thinks it is doing. 

The thing that most favorably impressed me was the stated desire by several to ensure that the group does not exclude conservative Democrats from its ranks, and statements indicating as much distrust of business-as-usual Republican Party operatives as of similar Democrat Party functionaries. Furthermore, the religious overtones of the first meeting I attended were largely absent from this second meeting.

Scribble 1 Scribble 2 Scribble 3 Scribble 4 Scribble 5 Scribble 6  Scribble 7

Rural Southern Mid Tenn Tea Party

Facebook Announcement

A conservative friend sent me a Facebook invitation to attend a Tea Party scheduled for the morning of Saturday 6 February at a public venue in a nearby town.  Because I had nothing pressing, and Saturday morning is usually time I have free, and because I needed to get out to the post office anyway, I sent back a Maybe reply.

Saturday Morning

Saturday morning I slept later than is my wont, but got ready in time to motor roughly south to the appointed meeting place.  I honestly had no idea what to expect.  I took my Pentax Optio 3.5 WR with freshly charged batteries.  I stuck an ink-pen in my pocket in case I wanted to write anything down.  Didn’t take paper because I supposed the group would probably pass out some sort of agenda or other handout.

I wasn’t sure where the meeting place was located, but thought it would probably be on the main drag, and it was.  To judge by the number of cars in the parking lot, a fair number of people were in attendance.  I was a few minutes late, and walked in the back door as the assembled group was on its feet singing God Bless America.  So I kind of awkwardly stood there to the moderator’s left and sang along the last two or three lines, then saw a friend who indicated an empty seat near the one he occupied.  I got a cup of coffee and sat down.

Two men were identified as reporters from a Frankfurt newspaper who had come down from Nashville to cover this much smaller meeting.  I spoke with one of them after the event, and he said that because the Tea Party phenomenon is a grassroots movement, they wanted to cover it at that level.  He said he didn’t think they were missing much of interest in Nashville that morning, anyway.  I asked him about the popularity of folding kayaks in Germany, and he didn’t know what I was talking about until I mentioned the manufacturers Pouch, Klepper, and Pionier.  He said he thought folding kayaks were popular “like 20 years ago.”  What a disappointment.

Most of the people there were men, but some women were present.  Most of the group appeared to be about 60 or older, although I saw some who appeared to be in their 20s.  After I found my seat, the moderator suggested we observe a “moment of silence” in memory of the late Ronald Reagan, which he then used as a segue to some kind of pastoral prayer.  I must say I resented “moment of silence” as both hokum and a ruse for foisting unanticipated and unwanted religious observance upon me.  Not that I object to religious observance or invocation, per se, but there was something about the way it was done Saturday morning that irked.  Turns out the guy moderating, in his opening spiel, identified himself as a “retired pastor.”  I guess he felt the need to sneak in a worship service.

The guy had a couple of handouts.  One was a true-false “civics test” which would have served well as an ice-breaker, but was not used as such.  The other was a list of about 25 grievances or demands, and the moderator asked that everyone circle the statements with which they most agreed.  About 10 of them did not resonate with me at all.  Maybe five or six of them seemed most pressing to me.  I took the liberty of marking up the sheet with my own opinions, then handed it in when everybody else handed in theirs.  The “civics” exercise further revealed the moderator’s religious agenda, but also had a few items of interest.  After that, some of the guys who represented groups from neighboring communities that were more organized spoke up.

One of those guys with, I think it was, Tea Party Coalition, talked in a northern accent about his annoyance with the organizers of the Nashville shindig (the one featuring Sarah Palin, who failed to serve out her term as Governor of The State of Alaska for no obviously good reason) because he felt charging a lot of money to attend the weekend event smacked of the same sort of $1500.00 a plate fundraising efforts that have for years kept “the little guy” from participating meaningfully in local, state, and national politics.  He had trouble articulating at this time much beyond the fact that he’d like the political process to be less about money.  It would have made more sense to voice a demand for grassroots access to candidates for elected office, and representatives holding elected office.

A woman from the Gallatin area was the meeting’s guest speaker, and after making an emotional appeal and scolding Americans for allowing the Union to reach its arguably sorry current state, went on to discuss the need for precinct work.  Her ideas struck me as basically sound.

Then there was some discussion about what, as a movement, conservatives hope to accomplish through Tea Party organization.  Incremental gains, “Flipping the House,” or electing true conservatives to every office possible from county commissioner and local school board to state and federal representatives.  Some of the talk seemed to be focused on merging various groups, but no decisions were made.  Copies of the Tennessee state constitution were made available, and a different guy from another group had handouts with information about an event his group has planned for next month.


Turns out I’d left my camera in the car, so got only one snapshot as I drove out of the parking lot on my way back to Stepford and the post office.


Stepford TEA Party

A short, peering guy in camo jacket turned and looked right at me, then brought his camera up and pointed.  I shot back.

A short, peering guy in camo jacket turned and looked right at me, then brought his camera up and pointed. I shot back.

My scheduled events yesterday afternoon did not fall out as planned. I’d intended to show up at the South Stepford Civic Center for the TEA Party tax protest after work and then head home to supper with the family. But a realtor’s office phoned me in the morning requesting permission to show the house between 5:30 and 6:30 in the evening. My amazing wife volunteered to rush home after work and tidy the place, then we agreed to meet at a restaurant in town about 5:30. So I only got to observe about 15 – 20 minutes of the political event.

The crowd was made up primarily of normal looking people dressed appropriately for the cooler than average weather and the come-as-you-are nature of the event.