Soon after I got elected to the Tennessee Senate, my wife, Linda, gave me some blunt, good advice. It’s the same advice I hope someone will give to President-elect Trump, and it’s advice I’m going to give to our legislators in Nashville.
The advice my wife gave me was in the context of an issue I got confronted with within weeks of being sworn in. I had promised not to raise taxes, but it seemed every prominent local community leader wanted the state to pass a new tax for local governments that would allow them to raise new tax revenue to build a football stadium and expand our local trade center. Since it required a new state law, I had to vote on the tax bill. I was on the hot seat.
I told my wife that the tax was really a local tax and arguably I’d only said I wouldn’t raise state taxes. But the reason I was trying to rationalize the difference between state taxes and state-authorized local taxes was because, as I told my wife, the folks calling were prominent, wealthy people who had the ability to recruit and fund an opponent in the next election cycle.
I really hate to admit that such rationalization crossed my mind so quickly in my political career, but it was good that it did, because it allowed my wife to crush it.
As I mentioned to her the names of those calling to tell me it was “okay” to vote for the tax law, my wife said (and this is a pretty accurate exchange):
LINDA: I don’t remember you mentioning any of those names during the campaign. Did any of them support you?
LINDA: Well, didn’t you win without them?
DAVID: Yes. (Said quietly and meekly.)
LINDA: Then it sounds like they aren’t that important anyway. Just do the right thing.
She cinched the political compromising and rationalizing deal for me from that day forward.
And my wise wife would say the same thing to Mr. Trump and to the Republicans in Nashville relative to the pushback they will now receive from the elite and particularly the mainstream media.
Mr. Trump, you won the election with the mainstream media squarely against you, so don’t start worrying now about what they will say when you follow through on what you said you would do. The American people demonstrated that they can cut through the lies and bias. Four years from now, if you try to tell us you did what you said, when you didn’t, we’ll cut through those lies, too. Do what you said you would do, and you won’t have to worry about whether those who actually supported you will turn on you.
And state legislators, you, too, need to ignore the media and all the threats from the gay activists if you don’t cow-tow to their agenda. North Carolina has been under constant attack since spring for voting for a law that kept bathrooms and locker rooms differentiated based on biology instead of psychology. No governor was under greater attack. And while Gov. McCrory’s race is still too close to call, the fact that it’s even close with all the forces from across the nation that came against him is itself a mini-miracle. But the critical fact is that Republicans picked up a seat in their state Legislature and their Lt. Governor, outspoken on the bathroom legislation, won by six points.
Our legislators need to vote the values of our citizens, not the values of those who write editorials for our state’s newspapers or the values of the Human Rights Campaign in D.C. and their corporate lap dogs, most of whom have their corporate headquarters in California. They do not represent the basic values of most Tennesseans, and they have never been elected. Don’t let them influence, much less dictate, what you do.
My wife taught me a valuable political lesson early on. I hope Mr. Trump and our legislators have equally wise spouses. If they don’t, and if they start worrying more about the opinions of those who were against them than those who were for them, then they may find themselves spending more time at home with their spouses after the next election cycle.
David Fowler served in the Tennessee state Senate for 12 years before joining FACT as President in 2006. Read David’s complete bio.
Get David Fowler’s Blog as a feed.