mass transit metro Nashville

Is Your Legislator in the Big-Business Echo Chamber?

The overwhelming defeat of the mass transit referendum in Metro Nashville this week should serve as a lesson for the candidates for governor and the state Legislature. But they won’t learn if we don’t insist that they do. Here is how you can “school them.”

To understand the lesson they need to learn, you need to know two things. First, you need to understand what currently seems to drive legislators when it comes to legislation that takes a commonsense approach to some of the social issues we’re facing.

What Is Driving Legislators’ Thinking

It is not what regular Joe and Jane Tennessean think about these issues, but what the Human Rights Campaign, the largest pro-homosexual advocacy organization in the country, and its business allies think. Those business allies are, for the most part, represented by a group called Tennessee Thrives.

Increasingly Republicans, particularly those in positions of leadership, are afraid to do anything that would upset these corporate bigwigs. So, when legislation comes up, as it has for the last three years, that would help keep a 12-year-old biological boy from showering in the junior high girls’ locker room because he thinks he’s a girl, Speakers Randy McNally and Beth Harwell, along with Gov. Haslam (the “Big Three”), begin to “encourage” legislators to kill the bill.

For example, this year a proposed bill would have simply allowed the state to help a local public school system afford the cost of defending itself against an ACLU lawsuit if it got sued for adopting a policy prohibiting biological males from being in the girls’ locker room. The bill died for lack of a second on the Senate Judiciary Committee (kudos for Sen. Mike Bell moving the bill).

Was this bill, and the ones dealing with this subject over the previous two years, opposed because the Big Three and our legislators think it’s great to let a boy shower with a girl? No. They would tell you that they are opposed to a boy being able to do so. So what’s the deal?

It is most likely this: Tennessee Thrives said that the state supporting school systems that believe boys are boys and girls are girls and that boys and girls shouldn’t share locker room shower facilities is “discriminatory” and “will harm our economy and damage our state’s reputation.”

Are you kidding me? Protecting the privacy and safety of kids when they are in a locker room by keeping their biological opposites out is discriminatory? Recognizing objective biological realities over subjective psychological states of mind is discriminatory? Doing that is going to harm our economy?

I think Joe and Jane Tennessean, particularly those with kids and grandkids using those locker rooms, would strongly disagree. It’s common sense. And this leads to the second thing you need to understand.

Big Business Can’t Outvote You

According to The Tennessean, “[t]he for-transit campaign . . . was very much the product of the chamber of commerce. . . . Rather than broadening support . . . boosted by small individual donors, the transit coalition chose to build its coffers almost exclusively with checks from large companies, firms and powerful institutions.”

In other words, the critical importance of the mass transit plan was echoing around in the heads of the chamber elites, but it sure wasn’t resonating among the masses of the regular people who vote.

Our next governor and those who seek to serve in our Legislature need to get out of the “echo chamber” of the big business chamber-type elites whose only corporate value is the bottom line and who could care less about what Joe and Jane Tennessean think.

The number of votes that will be cast in August and November by Joe and Jane Tennessean will outnumber the corporate heads of the businesses belonging to Tennessee Thrives. But they have to remind legislators and the gubernatorial candidates of that. And here’s how.

How to ‘School’ the Political Candidates

First, when it comes to who should be our next governor, at TNVoterGuide.org you can watch videos of how the candidates answered nine questions we posed to them.

The two who chose not to participate and the one who chose to participate but did not answer any of the actual questions, let alone follow the directions, just told you what they think about those of us who care about these issues—we don’t really matter to them, regardless of what they may say on a television commercial. As to the rest, listen to what they said and listen to how they said it, and take your conclusions to the ballot box.

Then, in a few weeks, we’ll urge you to ask your state legislative candidates to answer our 15-question voter guide survey. Let them know that you expect answers if they want your vote.

If we who are just regular citizens don’t weigh in on these issues during this election cycle, then only the corporate bullies aligned with Tennessee Thrives will thrive.


David Fowler served in the Tennessee state Senate for 12 years before joining FACT as President in 2006. Read David’s complete bio.

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