Ideology or Leadership

I love the state of Tennessee and give it my full loyalty. However, my patience with ignorance has ended, and that means I am fed up with moronic acts by our state government’s elected representatives.
A recent article in the paper profiled infamous Stacey Campfield and how he keeps winning elections. The answer is simple. Too many folks in his district gobble up his views. I won’t call those views conservative; perhaps rabid is a better term. Whether folks like him or not, they have to admit he’s the ultimate politician and works hard in his district to make sure voters know him. His legislative agenda is another matter.
Campfield has managed to infuriate many with such proposals as “Don’t Say Gay Bill,” “Bad Performance Leads to Cuts in Benefits Bill,” and “Death Certificates for Abortions Bill.” To many across the nation, these bills are ones submitted by a biased, intolerant little man who is more interested in publicity than governing. It’s a strategy that’s worked. Campfield has been lampooned on television shows and in multiple print and Internet sites. The worst thing is that his outrageous stands negatively impact the state.
What all must keep in mind is the state’s legislatures have for years passed some downright DUMB laws. Here are just a few of them:
Students may not hold hands while at school.
You can’t shoot any game other than whales from a moving automobile.
Hollow logs may not be sold.
It is illegal to use a lasso to catch a fish.
It is legal to gather and consume roadkill.
The definition of “dumb animal” includes every living creature.
Skunks may not be carried into the state.
Of late, some other legislators have penned a boatload of ridiculous bills. One, by James “Micah” Van Huss, states, “Any representative of the United Nations who enters the state loses all official status and shall not operate in the state in any official capacity.” Another one adds, “Representatives of the United Nations shall not observe elections in the state” and that “violation of this section is a Class C misdemeanor.”
The Guns in the Trunk bill passed the full Senate recently. It allows gun carry permit holders to leave their weapons in the cars anywhere they park, including outside businesses and schools.
Someone submitted the Monkey Bill, which protects teachers who allow students to question and criticize "controversial" subjects such as evolution and climate change. It became law after the governor failed to act.
Like a growing segment of the national government, the state legislature is turning more toward narrow ideology and less toward the welfare of the state and its people. It’s a trend that comes from fear. Too many of us are afraid of losing what we have. We always expected that our children would have more than we have had, but when the economy crashed in 2007, our fears centered on keeping what we already had. In too many cases, people lost all that they had worked for in a lifetime. No wonder fear consumed them.
            Now, things are beginning to turn around ever so slowly. Individuals must again turn outward and eschew the fears that ideologues have peddled. We are a better nation than that, and Tennessee is a better state than that. 
The focus of too many of our state representatives is blurred. Tennessee ranks 21st nationally in education. One in five (20%) Tennesseans have a bachelor’s degree or higher, while 22% of the state’s high school students drop out of school. The state is eighth in the number of teen pregnancies. Instead of finding solutions to problems that affect the well being of citizens and drain moneys that could be spent on other programs, legislators waste time on fear laws. Let’s expect and demand more of them. If they come up short, let’s send them home where they can try to make a living through working regular jobs.

Meet in the Middle

            The fiscal cliff loomed larger each day until a stop-gap measure postponed the problem for a few months. The sequester is nearing without much chance that anything positive will pass to avert it. Spending on one side is countered by bloody, to-the-quick cutting on the other. Our country and its economy wait nervously while the politicians in Washington play Russian Roulette with the future.
Citizens are disgusted with and tired of the intransigence of both sides. These so-called “intelligent” folks need a kick in the behind.
            Perhaps the representatives in our country’s capital should listen to a song by Diamond Rio. Titled “Meet in the Middle,” it offers the best practical advice for solutions to the gridlock and partisan politics. The chorus says,
I'd start walking your way
You'd start walking mine
We'd meet in the middle
'Neath that old Georgia pine
We'd gain a lot of ground
'Cause we'd both give a little
And their ain't no road too long
When you meet in the middle.
How simple can an answer be? Kids learn this lesson at an early age. Two toddlers reach for the same toy. A squabble and tug-of-war ensues. However, parents intervene and teach them to share. It’s a hard lesson to learn, but an important one. As they grow older, kids work to make things okay. That comes in making teams fair or empathizing with others enough to allow them a chance at being first. The kindness of their hearts and that sense of fair play make them seem wiser than most of us adults.
We grown-ups learn to compromise in all phases of life. In our jobs, we negotiate for salaries or raises. Just completing many tasks requires us to get along with others and make concessions. The art of a sale many times depends upon both parties’ willingness to “deal.” We begin to understand the importance of teamwork and how each person’s talents are necessary in order to successfully accomplish a task.
A marriage should be the epitome of compromise. Two individuals who are from different families with diverse traditions and beliefs join forces. In every aspect of their new life, these husbands and wives must give and take. Sometimes that means one might gain an advantage, but in the next situation the other might win. The division of chores at home and the care given to children are all parts of that life of compromise. Without a doubt, many of the marriages that end in divorce are the results to failure to compromise. It’s difficult to give in some, but the end product of not doing so is painful to husbands, wives, and children.
As parents, we learn slowly and painfully to compromise. When our children are born, we make statements about what will and won’t be allowed. Our inflexibility continues until our offspring enter their teen years. It’s then that we moms and dads discover the art of compromise. What actually happens isn’t compromise; instead, it is the realization that some things aren’t worth fighting over, so we lead our children to believe that we are making concessions. We look like understanding parents and save our energy for other situations that are much more important.
So, the American people expect the elected officials to do what we’ve been doing all our lives: compromise and get along. We are disgusted with fights over ideologies. The folks in D.C. were sent there to represent the welfare of their constituents, not to bow their backs in a game of who’s right and who’s wrong.
Senators and representatives get it together and accomplish something. Our financial security is at stake. Do something to improve your image to an American people that is ready to vote all of you out of office. Like the song says, give a little ground and meet in the middle.