What’s The Matter With Tennessee?

There was much rejoicing in the liberal blogosphere over the weekend when a Vanderbilt University poll showed President Obama in a statistical dead-heat with Mitt Romney in my home state of Tennessee. Oh, my!

Those of us who actually live here got a good laugh because if you read past the headline and got into the actual story, you realized that while Obama fared well in a poll of adults, among those who are registered voters Romney maintains a comfortable lead. And of course we all know our state Republicans have done a masterful job ensuring people of the Democratic persuasion have as much trouble casting a ballot on election day as possible. So no, Tennessee is not turning blue.

No, what really interested me about the poll was this:

Just 15 percent said lawmakers “spent the appropriate amount of time addressing social, cultural or religious issues” during this year’s session, and 22 percent said they didn’t spend enough time on them. A larger number, 42 percent, said lawmakers spent too much time on such matters.

Some of the General Assembly’s forays into issues such as “gateway sexual activity,” debating evolution in classrooms and permitting the carrying of guns into business parking lots have given Tennessee “a black eye nationally,” Geer said.

Well, stop me if you’ve heard this one before. Let’s roll the clock back to October 2009, after our controversial guns-in-bars legislation was passed, vetoed by our then-Democratic governor, and then passed into law by the Republican legislature’s veto override.What did Tennesseans think then?

Despite the passage of the so-called “guns-in-bars” law by the Tennessee General Assembly, 80 percent of state residents are against allowing permit holders to carry handguns in bars. Sixty percent oppose handguns in restaurants. Fifty-four percent oppose handguns in parks.

Hmm, that was the signature legislation that year, too. Too bad. Afall 2010 MTSU poll showed only 40% approved of the Tennessee legislature vs 31% disapproval. And Vanderbilt’s June 2011 poll showed another shift:

Support for the state legislature has plummeted 20 percentage points since January, according to a Vanderbilt University poll reported by The Tennessean…and the cause appears to be controversial votes such as the Republican-led fight to remake Tennessee’s laws on teachers unions.

Ya know, I’d be tempted to tell Tennessee voters to stop voting for the damn Republicans if they don’t like what they’re doing once they get to the capitol. Sadly, a lot of our Democrats are as bad as the Republicans on that score, nor has the Tennessee Democratic Party done much to cultivate new candidates, at least not that I can tell.

So, what does it all mean? To me it puts the lie to the whole “What’s The Matter With Kansas” argument that the God-guns-gays stuff are just distractions to get people voting against their own economic self-interest. People in Tennessee keep saying they don’t like this stuff, and yet they keep voting Republican. Meanwhile, Republicans keep passing this stuff. Not only are they voting against their own economic self-interest, they’re voting against their philosophical interests, too.

Tennessee Democrats need to remind voters of this come election time. The fact is, our Republicans keep going off the rails on a crazy train of UN-Agenda-21-conspiracy, 10-Commandments-posting, hand-holding-is-a-gateway-to-sex, show-me-the-birth-certificate crapola.

You know what they say about people who continue to do the same thing over and over and expect different results, right?

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One thought on “What’s The Matter With Tennessee?

  1. quixote says:

    The Repub message can be pretty much summed up as “More money for you.” (I know they do the opposite, but the hypnosis is all about repeating “More money for you.”)
    There’s the plain old lower taxes message. The deficit BS subtext is really the same: “ZOMG you’ll have higher taxes any second because them horrible Dems are spending your money.” And then there’s the refrain of “We’ll keep the brown people in their place so they can’t take your jobs or lower the price of your house.” That one also lets people vent spleen at somebody who doesn’t control their jobs. Quadruple win. (The anti-women campaign is another whole mess to make people feel safe in a world before sex was invented.)
    To compete, the Dems would have to give an equally passionate defense of the government and the party as a friend of the middle class. It would be easy because it also happens to be true. “More money for you” could actually work for them because they could prove they’ve actually done it in the past.
    But they can’t do it now because it would offend their donors and future employers.
    So here we are. It’s not irrational at all. But there’s no way out, just like there’d be none if it really was insanity.

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