Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Why I love politics

Being from a "bi-political" family (mother, Grundy County Democrat, father, Fentress County Republican and Veteran), I was fortunate enough to be raised in a house filled with spirited political discussions during every election. I turned 18 only a couple of weeks before the '80 Presidential election, so my biggest disappointment that year was not being able to finally vote. But that didn't stop me from getting caught up in the Reagan Revolution and boy, that feeling never left me. Somewhere out there is a picture of my college pals and I with a big '84 Reagan Bush sign in front of our PAC house, just a bunch of radical conservative students believing that there was a bright future ahead of us because of a man called Ronald Reagan. That '84 sign hangs in my office today, a reminder to never forget those youthful ideologies.

After years of concentrating on career achievements then motherhood, I finally came back "into the fold" in 2001 when I worked on Michael O'Brien's State Rep campaign then Judd Matheny's State Rep campaigns. Both had the same qualities of Ronald Reagan that I had always admired...Strength, Optimism & Passion for the pure political process. These were the guys in white hats. I am proud to say that my educated hunch about Judd was dead-on. He has never swayed from the path while in office. He is one of the finest examples of a citizen legislator that I have been privileged to witness firsthand. There are several in office today that hold that honor...but we need more.

Working in politics is kind of like visiting your favorite restaurant and getting a peek at what goes on in the kitchen. Sometimes you really don't like what you see or even stomach the results. From all indicators, we are one step away from losing the conservative battle and falling into the bigger government trap that apathy and, in my opinion, laziness has gotten us into. We can't have it both ways. Either you are in control of your life, or government is. Our founding fathers never envisioned nor approved of the kind of all-encompassing, bloated government structure that we live in today. They were freedom fighters throwing off the shackles of government oppression when they signed the Declaration of Independence and fought the great battle for sovereignty. Maybe it's time to become freedom fighters again. I'm in!

Therefore in that vain, I am committed to supporting any candidate (federal, state or local) who best reflects the Reagan ideology. I am always on the search for those people who want to run for the right reasons, to serve the people. I will help them in any way I can and work hard for the end result. Victory for the people. And sometimes you just have to step up to the plate yourself when no one else will just to get the ball rolling in the right direction. In 2006, my campaign as a State Representative Candidate for District 37 (Grundy, Marion, Sequatchie & VanBuren Counties) was a very successful one. 30% of the vote, $5000 spent and two major endorsements by NRA and NFIB. Who knows what '08 will hold. It will be a very interesting and intense political season. One we must all be involved in.

Where Dark Agendas happen...

I am an avid reader of Bill Hobbs blog, he always seems to find the story behind the story in state politics. In my Feb 14 blog, one of my observations was about committee meetings and "dark agendas" being absent from the process during my visit. I keep on forgetting that the first couple of weeks in session, legislators are still fresh and somewhat (if you can believe this) idealistic about working together for the common good (their job).

What really happens in the state legislature is a lot "darker" then people ever want to think about. It's like going into your favorite restaurant and peering in the kitchen during peak rush, some of the processes may make your stomach weaken considerably. The fact of the matter is that the state house is still being run "the old fashioned way" by people who have watched the Godfather one to many times. We see this a lot in our small rural towns and it causes a great deal of damage to the citizens quality of life. Can you imagine what it does on a larger scale like the state legislature? We all want to focus on the evils of federal government, but this kind of thing is much closer to home then we realize.

Below is a recent Bill Hobbs blog about just one issue being considered this session.

Talk is Cheap.
The Kingsport Times News takes state Rep. Nathan Vaughn's side in its story about the battle over a proposed pro-life amendment to the state constitution. But the KTN ignores the elephant in the room: The Kingsport Democrat talks pro-life, but when the time came for action yesterday, he wasn't in the room. Vaughn is like a lot of Democrats who claim to be pro-life - he's pro-life on the campaign trail, pro-life in his speeches, and pro-life in his rhetoric, but not pro-life in action, when it counts.
To put it another way: What has Rep. Vaughn ever done to actually help pro-life legislation pass in the Tennessee legislature? Nothing. What has he done to stop pro-life legislation from passing? Plenty, starting with voting for Jimmy Naifeh for House Speaker. Naifeh, another Democrat who claims to be pro-life but routinely sends pro-life legislation to be killed in a specially chosen House subcommittee.
Vaughn thus puts partisanship ahead of his pro-life views - and nevermore so than Monday night and Tuesday morning at the state capitol. Monday night Vaughn asked to be a co-sponsor of the House version of Senate Joint Resolution 127, a proposed constitutional amendment that would - if passed by the legislature and approved by voters - write into the state constitution a provision that nothing in the constitution can be interpreted by judges as creating or protecting a right to abortion. The amendment is necessary because in 2000, in the case Planned Parenthood v. Sundquist, the state Supreme Court - stacked with unelected liberal judges - struck down commonsense provisions like parental notification, informed consent and a waiting period.
The SJR 127 amendment would reverse that and leave abortion policy in the hands of the people's legislature rather than in the hands of a few liberal and unelected judges. It has passed the state Senate with an overwhelming majority vote, but in the House, Speaker Jimmy Naifeh routinely sends pro-life legislation to die in an obscure House subcommittee whose sole purpose seems to be to give the legislature's most rabidly pro-abortion female Democrats a subcommittee of their own where they can kill pro-life legislation.
Thus, the House version of SJR 127 was doomed from the start, and everyone - including Rep. Vaughn - knew it Monday night when Vaughn, who is known for being pro-life, asked the House sponsor to sign on as a co-sponsor.
It was pure cynical partisan theater.
Rep. Vaughn - and other Democrats who claim to be pro-life - want to sign on as co-sponsors to give themselves political cover, knowing the subcommittee would kill the legislation and it would never come to a floor vote. Most political observers in Nashville believe SJR 127 would pass the House by a large margin if Naifeh were to allow it to come to a floor vote.
A floor vote is never going to happen because the Democrat leadership in the House does not want a pro-life constitutional amendment on the ballot statewide in Tennessee ever, fearing it would bring a lot of social conservatives to the polls and threaten Democrats' majority.
Democrat legislators like Vaughn who want voters back home in their districts to believe they are pro-life want to sign on as co-sponsors for political cover, so they can campaign claiming to have co-sponsored pro-life legislation, all the while knowing Naifeh will abort the legislation in the subcommittee created for that very purpose.
The House sponsor of SJR 127 is willing to let "pro-life Democrats" sign on as co-sponsors if and when the bill reaches the House floor. That makes political sense - if they can't sign on as co-sponsors for political cover just before Naifeh kills the bill, they might actually work to pressure Naifeh to let the bill come to the floor for a vote.
The bottom line is that the legislature is full of pro-life Republicans and pro-life Democrats, but there's a difference between them. The Republican-led Senate passes pro-life legislation; the Democrat-lead House kills it.
And rhetorically pro-life legislators like Democrat Nathan Vaughn enable the pro-choice Democrat leadership to kill the legislation by electing Jimmy Naifeh as House Speaker every two years.
Rep. Vaughn may, in his soul, be pro-life. He may give pro-life speeches. He may pray every night to God to end abortion. But when push comes to shove - when Rep. Vaughn is faced every two years with casting a meaningful vote that affects the future of pro-life legislation - he votes for Jimmy Naifeh for Speaker. The vote for Naifeh for Speaker is the first vote Vaughn cast at the opening of the current General Assembly, and it was a pro-abortion vote. And Speaker Naifeh then sets about to kill the pro-life legislation that Vaughn says he supports.
Talk is cheap.
Rep. Vaughn hasn't done a blessed thing in the legislature to be actively pro-life. And he has done MUCH to harm the pro-life cause, including vote for Naifeh for Speaker as Naifeh routinely executes all pro-life legislation.
He did not even go to the subcommittee hearing Tuesday to urge his fellow legislators to pass the resolution and allow it to go to the House floor for a vote.
He may claim to be pro-life. He may say all the right words to all the right people, but actions matter more than words, and when it came time to act, Rep. Vaughn failed to back his words with action. He is pro-life except when it counts - just like a lot of "pro-life" Democrats in the Tennessee General Assembly.
Pro-life voters need to understand this clearly: If you vote this fall for pro-life Democrats for the state House, you are undermining the pro-life cause because they will vote for Jimmy Naifeh for speaker, again, and he will send pro-life legislation to die in his subcommittee guillotine.
In Tennessee a vote for a pro-life Democrat for the state House is a pro-abortion vote.
Postscript: A single line jumped out at me over and over as I read the Dr. Seuss classic Horton Hears a Who to my son at bedtime last night:
"People are people, no matter how small."If you haven't read it, the book tells the tale of Horton, an elephant who risks everything to protect the tiny people of Whoville against those who - risking nothing of their own - threaten Whoville with destruction.
500,000 of Tennessee's smallest, most helpless and vulnerable people have been killed in the state's abortion mills since 1978, according to Tennessee Department of Health data. That's almost equal to the the population of Nashville-Davidson County. Many of those abortions have been subsidized by an annual state budget appropriation for Planned Parenthood, the state's largest abortion provider.
Half a million dead babies. That's what electing "pro-life Democrats" gets you.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Observations from "a day on the hill"

I recently spent the day "on the hill" after watching my bill being navigated thru an early morning subcommittee meeting. Being a political junkie, I thought I would follow the whole day process and attend every committee meeting I could schedule in. Here are my thoughts...

Legislators really do care what the citizens think, so I guess it surprises my why more people don't get involved in the process.

I really didn't see too big of a difference between Dem and GOP thought processes. I guess committee meetings are thankfully more about work then about dark agendas (I have revised my opinion on this since the post was written. Committees meetings have definitely turned dark).

I especially liked Rep. Fraley's way of handling his Transportation committee. Quick and to the point.

There are way too many unfunded mandate bills for my taste. Why can't there be a committee to delete unproductive restrictions on people and local governments instead of just adding more for the sake of adding more.

Lobbyists are people too. I met the greatest guy from Johnson City who had been one of the old guard legislators while sitting in the "lobby" waiting for the next committee to start. Just a great guy still wanting to make a difference. I guess the true love of the political process never leaves you. How refreshing.