|The so-dubbed Ketronmander|
In my initial post, I forewarned readers that while my objective is to get us talking to each other again, one might not always like what I have to say. I feel as if this post will serve to back up that notion.
So let’s have a conversation about cutting off the dead weight.
Yesterday, Mayor Karl Dean and Congressman Jim Cooper participated in an editorial board with the Tennessean. To sum up the content, Jim Cooper plead for his political life, while newly re-elected Mayor Dean lectured on the virtues of a united Nashville.
Before I go on, let me say this: I have no strong feelings either way when it comes to Mayor Dean or Congressman Cooper. I know very little about either man and what I do know is neither impressive nor damming.
That being said, I think the fact that I as an active, dedicated and in-the-loop democrat know very little about a multi-term democratic congressman is a problem. I’m sure part of the problem is me. I should know more about Congressman Cooper. But honestly, I grew up in a house where democratic politics was the rule of law. I knew who John Wilder, Jimmy Naifeh and Ned McWherter were almost before I knew Jesus Christ. The only thing I know about Jim Cooper is that when he ran for senate, he let Fred Thompson tell him to “shut-up” during a debate like he was a three-year old.
Herein is the problem. We, as democrats, can pontificate all day about how unfair the majority party is being if they can successfully split Nashville into multiple districts. Yes, it is unnecessary. Yes, it is unfair. Yes, it is patently political-color me shocked. We did it for 140 years and no one in the general public is going to listen to us complain now that the shoe is on the proverbial other foot. I don’t like it, but I think we are remiss to be so “offended” and “shocked” by this completely legal activity.
As democrats, I think we ought to be more upset that Congressman Cooper and Mayor Dean are NOW suddenly so concerned about the redistricting process. Perhaps had either man been more concerned last fall, we’d have more than 34 seats in the House and might have a chance to actually affect redistricting. Perhaps, if Congressman Cooper had paid more attention to the reputation and state of the Democratic Party in Tennessee 10 years ago, we’d have more than 13 seats in the Senate. Perhaps, the issue here is not what the evil republicans are doing to us, but the lack of action by our own party statesmen to build a bench for state races, to build effective fundraising networks and to act as leaders all the time, not just when your district is in trouble.
To be fair, the things said in the preceding paragraph could be written about a multitude of our elder statesmen in the Democratic Party. We have let our party fall into disarray in this state and we have no one to blame but ourselves. So maybe it’s time to cut the fat. From my perspective, if Congressman Cooper is sent into retirement nothing changes for Tennessee Democrats. We’re not any better or worse off. We don’t lose an exceptional campaigner or fundraiser. We don’t lose someone who is leading or shaping the conversation for Tennessee Democrats. We don’t even lose a vote for Nancy Pelosi should we regain the majority in DC, since Cooper voted against her as Leader.
Every year, my Grandmother cuts her azalea bushes in the fall. They go from looking plush and nice, to looking lanky and forlorn. But the next spring, the strongest and most beautiful bushes are those that have been pruned. Perhaps in Tennessee, it’s time to trim our own hedges and cut off the dead weight so we too can grow into something better and stronger.
Let the conversation continue.