published Monday, November 26th, 2012

A rein on monolithic power

The notable difference in state and federal elections this year is this: U.S. elections maintained a divided Congress, while state elections let a single party sweep control of the governor's office and both chambers of state Legislatures in a majority of the states. Republicans now hold solid majority reign in 24 states, including Tennessee; Democrats control all the levers of power in 13.

That's the highest number of states under control of one party since 1952. Whether monolithic party control will generate cohesive, constructive legislative agendas is another question. In fact, the results could well be negative.

That's certainly the case in Tennessee. Legislative observers reasonably see some trouble ahead for over-reaching Republicans, who increased their 2010 majorities to official super-majority status mainly through partisan gerrymandering of voting districts following the decennial Census. House Minority Leader Craig Fitzhugh, moreover, reportedly sees the House as being divided among three parties: Tea Party Republicans, traditional Republicans and Democrats.

That should give Tennessee voters and mainstream Republican leaders considerable pause. Though Republicans now hold solid super-majority status -- more than a two-thirds majority in both chambers -- and can fully control the flow and passage of legislation, they will have to show responsible leadership to keep their support. Their Tea Party wing's recent history suggests that will be difficult.

Tea Partiers' reactionary agenda last year focused on anti-social, anti-environmental, anti-intellectual and anti-regulatory policies that would harm Tennessee's environment, economic development, schools, social justice and future strength.

Bills they supported, for example, sought to discriminate against the individual rights of women, religious minorities, legal immigrants and gays. They would harm Tennessee's environmental quality and huge tourism business by allowing more mountain-top removal mining, and dismantling current standards for water and air quality, forest preservation and public safety from nuclear waste. They would expand gun-carry rights to the extreme, even at the loss of existing and prospective businesses that reasonably want to ban guns on the premises of their plants and businesses.

They further oppose Affordable Care Act measures to marginally expand Medicaid/TennCare, and to establish a state insurance exchange that would benefit more than a fifth of uninsured working-age Tennesseans. They also would squeeze spending on K-12 and higher education, even though superior education has become the single largest factor in future business growth. And they would advance the sort of corporate-backed bills from the American Legislative Exchange Council that promote the interests of industry lobbyists and their campaign contributions.

If Tennessee is to keep on track toward a prosperous future, Republican leaders in Nashville will have to temper the reactionary agenda of the Tea Party. They likely would find willing partners among Democrats who rightly see education, environmental integrity and quality of life as the anchors of sound economic development in a competitive global economy.

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Oldhickory said...

JonRoss: I'd submit that since it was wrong for President BO, San Fran Nan, and Harry Reid to jam Obama Care down the throats of the nation, then it would be equally wrong for the Republican Party in state or federal government to act the same way. I'd prefer that the Republican Party that I vote for would stand up and evaluate what is best for the State of Tennessee and make decisions based on all of our bests interests, not the Teavangelical Taliban Party's interests, not looking backward at payback for the Democrat Party's past excesses, and not for some religious or other deep seeded intolerance, but for the betterment of the State of Tennessee. We’ve just lost a Presidential election and seats in Congress and the Senate that should not have been lost due to the Republican Party’s nationally stated intolerances and we can thank the Teavangelical Taliban Party for that loss. The Republican Party must shed itself of the racism and xenophobia expressed by the TEA Party and demand that Republican members in elected positions return to being adults.

November 26, 2012 at 9:39 a.m.
Oldhickory said...

Any means necessary is not the way to go. Look at what hundreds of filibusters in the Senate got us. That's right. More Democrat senators. The House is known for being reactionary, but the Senate is where deliberation is supposed to occur. ObamaCare is the law of the land now and it's likely here to stay. The smart thing for Republicans to do would be to mold the law to better fit the needs of the implementing states and by extension the people that will be using the program. As far as socialism goes, both parties have participated in that construction. Did the Republicans rollback or abolish anything meaningful when we controlled both houses and the Presidency? I can't think of any. Was President Jackson a racist? Yes. He owned slaves. Yes. He orchestrated the removal of native peoples to reservations and waged war against those that did not comply. Presidents after Jackson did the same. But that being said, slavery was legal during Jackson's life time and native people had been conquered in other parts of the growing United States before and after Jackson. I toured the Hermitage property a couple of months ago. Jackson's ownership of slaves and the treatment of slaves are prominently addressed in the museum and by the tour guides. I'm not certain it's entirely fair to label all Americans that participated in slavery or indian wars and relocations as racists. It's certainly fair by today's standards to say that slavery was an abomination and abolition was a tremendous first step forward in the history of the United States. As far as indian relocation goes, the indian nations were conquered and, for right or wrong, their people relocated and many treaties were betrayed by the US government. But what would anybody suggest to be done? Give back vast swaths of the eastern US to the Cherokees? While repatriation is a nice utopian thought, implementation is impractical. Would you suggest returning the southwest US to Mexico?

November 26, 2012 at 1:41 p.m.
tipper said...

JonRoss, you ole' states-righter you. Have you signed your secess petition, yet? I understand that there is a commune (I know that word scares the bejesus out of you) in Brazil for ex-Confederates who are unhappy with how the Civil War ended. Have you packed your bags, yet, and bought your ticket? Listen, the ACA is here to stay. Call it "socialist" or "Marxist," whatever makes you feel better, but the crazy Repub super-majority in Tennessee's legislature will not stop the benefits of ACA once Tennesseans get past the Obama-haters ridiculous rhetoric and learn how the ACA will improve their families' health care and medical expenses. Tennessee Republican state legislators can drag their feet--or knuckles--all they want, but when it comes to taking care of their families those Repubs will get bus tickets back home next election cycle.

November 27, 2012 at 2:35 p.m.
timbo said...

It never ceases to amaze me just how hypocritical liberals really are, especially Harry Austin. I looked back too find the article that Harry wrote lamenting this same subject when the Democrats dominated Tennessee politics. It was no surprise I didn't find one. You liberals are beyond contempt.

November 28, 2012 at 8:46 a.m.
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