Can and will Democrats turn Tennessee purple?

By | November 13, 2017 6:14 am

Democratic Dialog – By Debra Wines

Last week’s elections were exhilarating for Democrats all over the country. The euphoria expressed by people renewed the feeling that Donald Trump’s election last year was a knee-jerk reaction by voters who felt they were being ignored, and they wanted a BIG change in Washington, D.C.

Donald Trump made promise after promise that he alone could give them the change they wanted. During the nine months that Mr. Trump has been in the White House, members of his own party and a significant portion of his original supporters have become disenchanted and disheartened by Mr. Trump’s inability to be the kind of leader they expected. I do believe everyone who voted in last year’s election wanted some kind of positive change to take place on the federal and state level. Not everyone had the same idea of what constitutes a positive change and that is understandable.

Diversity among American voters is what drives our country. When voters see our elected officials changing the direction to one that is not helpful to themselves, their families, communities, state, or country, we have the opportunity to replace those people who do not do the job they were elected to do. Our form of government is based on the premise that we have the ability to voice our opinions and vote for representatives who would support and work for our goals within the confines of our government. Since the first vote was cast in our American government, we have seen our country and our government move forward and expand voting rights for those who were not included in our original governing documents. Expanding the right to vote for minorities and women was a hard-fought battle, and it was worth it.

It remains a continuous struggle to keep those voting rights for all citizens because a segment of Americans feels they may lose their power. Mr. Trump spoke to that underlying fear whenever a microphone was put in front of him on the campaign trail. He still does it to this day. Republicans in Congress pushed that particular movement several years ago, and it gained even more momentum with the highly charged Tea Party, right-wing Evangelicals and Citizens United campaigns. Those feelings still remain high in those groups, with Mr. Trump’s encouragement. Recently, some of the Republicans who were a bit shaky about Donald Trump have begun openly expressing the concerns about his lack of leadership and the divisive rhetoric coming from the White House.

Some people are so afraid of “losing” what they have, they ignore the undertones of what was happening in the Republican Party. It isn’t just Democrats who are concerned with the proposed healthcare plans developed by the Senate and House of Representatives. It isn’t just Democrats who are questioning the budget proposals from the Republican leaders and White House. It isn’t just Democrats who recognize the new tax reform proposal will raise our national debt by more than $1.5 trillion dollars by reducing taxes for the wealthy and large corporations. It isn’t just Democrats who understand the Republican budget and tax reform proposals will do more harm than good for the majority of Americans in very direct ways. Granted, not every part of either of those proposals will harm ALL Americans, but there are too many proposed changes that will touch every one of us.

Congressman Diane Black keeps pushing the advantage of simplifying tax reporting for the average American taxpayer, yet failing to tell us why that will happen. It is because for anyone filing a long form, which the majority of people with families file, the deductions that helped lower your tax burden will no longer be available to you or will be greatly reduced. I am sure the majority of teachers who used the tax deduction to reclaim some of the costs of supplying their students with necessary supplies out of their pockets don’t care about the reduced paperwork. They care about the fact that they will no longer be able to get any tax deduction. They care about the fact that the Republicans are proposing a $9 billion reduction in the Department of Education budget, which will mean they will be using more of their income to buy supplies without any tax break.

People who have children are going to care that public education, from pre-K through high school, is going to be devastated by those cuts in funding. Those people who have college loans are going to be hurt by removing the deduction of the interest they pay on those loans. I’m sure they would be willing to do the “extra” paperwork to continue that deduction. Medical deductions for catastrophic medical expenses will be eliminated. There is a major flaw with this proposal. What will happen to people who will lose their insurance or be forced out of the marketplace when the Republicans give Trump the healthcare bill he wants? How many more Americans will have to declare bankruptcy due to medical expenses? There is an excellent article in the Los Angeles Times, written on Nov. 3, 2017, by Michael Hiltzik, about the reality of the Republicans’ tax reforms and how much they will hurt, not help, the average American. I urge everyone to read it.

Since last year’s election of Donald Trump, I believe a great many people remained sitting on the fence for a while to see what he would do to fulfill his multitude of promises. No one expected him to accomplish even half of the things he promised in the first nine months of his presidency. I also don’t think the majority of Americans had any idea of the chaos, scandals, lack of focus and leadership, or the complete lack of understanding of the job of president that Mr. Trump has shown, and continues to show, since his inauguration.

People who did not trust or approve of Mr. Trump started a movement to make sure our voices and concerns were heard. They gathered together to let our elected legislators know that not only were we watching how they planned to govern under Mr. Trump’s “leadership,” but we would also demand that our concerns would be heard and understood. These groups have done everything they can from phone calls; letters, emails and postcards; and protests to let our elected legislators know how we felt about their various proposals. Here in the state of Tennessee, we have seen how well legislators like Diane Black, Marsha Blackburn, Bob Corker, and Lamar Alexander handle the pressure. They avoid us, hide from us, ignore us, ban us from their offices, or write condescending responses to letters sent to them that voice our concerns. Again, these people seem to forget they are supposed to represent ALL the constituents in their districts and state. It shouldn’t matter what political affiliation we have, whether we voted for them or not, and it should not matter if we are not rich enough to pay $1,000 or $8,000 to meet with our ELECTED legislators. These congressmen and senators have taken an oath to uphold the Constitution and to represent the ALL the people in their districts or state.

We have seen what grass roots campaigns can accomplish. We can and must do our best to support the candidates who support the majority of Americans instead of 1 percent or 2 percent of the people who are rich enough to buy their own legislators. We are at our best when we accept each other for our differences and our sameness. We learn by talking with and listening to people who have different opinions. We learn to see things in a different light when we step outside our self-imposed darkness. Only by opening our minds to others can we ever hope to learn and understand that we really do have more in common that can bring us together than allowing small differences to drive us apart.

Democrats will not win all the upcoming races in Tennessee. Seeing what took place on Nov. 7, 2017, in New Jersey and Virginia and across the country in major and minor elections, should encourage us to keep working toward a government that is for “We The People.” We need to focus on how to find more candidates who are concerned about our future. They will need whatever support we can give them to get elected as our representatives on the local, state, and federal levels of government.

We can help the people of Tennessee obtain a brighter future if we are able to elect candidates who, by their actions, show they care about the majority of people. Our state legislators need to address the concerns of the people who are the backbone of our rural communities as well as the people in urban areas. We deserve to have our voices heard, our votes counted, and our needs met. I do believe we have a common goal, a better and more representative government than we currently have, one that works for the majority of its people. We do not want a government with leaders that use fear and lies to advance the goals of an elite few. Tennessee will probably never be an all blue state. If we strive to become “purple,” in my opinion, it would be better for all of us by giving us a more balanced and bipartisan leadership.

comments » 5

  1. Comment by Sam Vines

    November 13, 2017 at 7:35 am

    Awesome piece Debra. Like always.

  2. Comment by Raymond

    November 13, 2017 at 8:20 am

    Excellent article.

  3. Comment by Tom

    November 13, 2017 at 8:29 am

    Just more whining from the Sore Loser Party…

  4. Comment by J. Robinson

    November 14, 2017 at 3:48 pm

    Tom, you seem to be the one whining and complaining.

  5. Comment by Trump supporter

    November 14, 2017 at 7:48 pm

    The Dept. of Education should be put back in state hands. It has no business being at the federal level. Nine billion is not much at all to cut from the budget if considered how much it would be if put back in state hands where it should be.

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