Crossville Chronicle, Crossville, TN


November 27, 2012

LION AND THE LAMB: On the front lines

CROSSVILLE — This past election brought a shocking revelation to many people in our country. The power of white males that has been controlling the political life of our nation since its beginning was shown to be in decline. A coalition made up of women, minority, and young voters had won a second term for President Obama.

The outcome was unexpected by many, including Romney who had to cancel the fireworks display in the Boston harbor that he had set up to celebrate his victory. The long-term effort of the birther movement to cast suspicion on Obama's presidential credentials, the continuing effort of the Republican majority in the House of Representatives to block Obama's economic initiatives, and the Tea Party's effort to build grass roots opposition to the powers of the federal government—all of these were not enough to change the outcome.

All three of these efforts, however, and the election itself, have helped fuel a secessionist movement—one that can be found in all fifty states but is strongest in the former Confederate states in the South. Petitions on behalf of secession are now being signed by conservatives and then sent on to the White House. Our Tennessee version states: "We petition the Obama administration to: Peacefully grant the State of Tennessee to withdraw from the United States of America and create its own NEW government." One doubts, however, whether this petition will have much of an impact either in Tennessee or in the White House. One suspects that it serves more as a way to show the displeasure of those on the losing side of the election.

A greater challenge to the well-being of our nation will be taking place soon in a number of states. Starting in January, a single party will hold the governor's office and majorities in thirty-seven states, the largest number in sixty years. This single-party control will probably mean more partisan agendas as Democrats try to expand personal liberties and social and economic support systems and Republicans try to restrict them. This will be a challenge especially for our region since Republicans have now gained control of the old Confederate South (except for Arkansas which will be the only such state with a Democratic governor).

Another serious problem confronting us is the right's longtime demonization of the federal government and its role in our national life. Participants in this demonization would prefer that the states be declared "sovereign" and "independent," with the federal government having only very limited powers. They would like, in practice, to go back to the organizing principles of the original Articles of Confederation. Our founding fathers, however, realized quite early in the game that our nation needed a strong central government under the Constitution with power to act on matters of national interest, including efforts to promote the "general welfare." Thus the Tenth Amendment reserved to the states and individuals only powers not granted to the federal government under the Constitution.

During recent decades Democrats have struggled to protect the core programs of the 1930s and 1960s such as Social Security and Medicare. Unfortunately, however, they have made major concessions on issues like Wall Street and corporate regulations, enabling freewheeling casino capitalism to return.

These are some of the issues confronting us as we move into the next four years. As columnist Charles M. Blow has written, "Once again this country finds itself increasingly divided and pondering the future of this great nation and the very ideas of liberty and equality for all. The gap is growing between liberals and conservatives, the rich and the not rich, intergenerational privilege and new immigrant power, patriarchy and gender equality, the expanders of liberty and the withholders of it."

And here in Tennessee, we are on the front lines of this challenge before us. It will be an exciting four years.

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  • LION AND THE LAMB: Four ways to demonstrate opposition

    Marcus Borg and John Dominic Crossan mention in their book, “The Last Week,” that Roman-occupied Palestine during the first century was under the control of Pontius Pilate who lived in the coastal city of Caesarea. Each year at the beginning of the Passover observance when Jews celebrated their liberation from Egypt, Pilate feared that they might be getting ideas about revolting from Rome, so he would come with additional soldiers on horses to beef up the Roman garrison in Jerusalem. 

    April 15, 2014

  • WE THE PEOPLE: Is it (new) party time?

    The Democratic and Republican parties are toast, according to Joe Trippi. The Republican Party is coming apart at its Tea Party seam. Democratic candidates struggle to celebrate President Obama’s health care successes, while responding to criticism of his failed promises, e.g., government transparency.

    April 15, 2014

  • TIDBITS: I found it at the library

    I have such fond memories of going to my local library as a child, searching through shelf after shelf and finding a book that would make me a Little Princess in World War II England, or bring me along as Nancy Drew solved the Secret in the Old Attic.

    April 14, 2014

  • STUMPTALK: The reason words have meaning

    If words did not have accepted meanings we would not be able to communicate effectively and civilized society would not exist.

    April 14, 2014

  • Lion and the Lamb: Do we really believe in democracy?

    The recent Supreme Court decision, McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission, is in a long line of debates about power in a democracy. Should power be in the hands of all the citizens or should it be in hands of those who have greater wealth and social position?

    April 8, 2014

  • We the People: Public education or business opportunity?

    A month ago, we followed the money trail left by a ‘think tank’ to the major sources funding an attack on our traditional, locally controlled public schools. We saw that a handful of billionaires provide major support to many organizations lobbying for change.

    April 8, 2014

  • Stumptalk: Just another government lie?

    There is a vault located in Fort Knox, Kentucky. It was built in 1936 and encased in 16 cubic feet of granite and 4200 feet of cement. The door is made of 20-inch thick material that is immune to drills, torches and explosives.

    April 7, 2014

  • GARY'S WORLD: The chance to speak your mind

    Are you tired of hearing people complain about the way things are run in Cumberland County? Or, do you like the way the county government is run and operated in our beautiful county?
    Are you happy with the way things are, or would you like some change?

    April 3, 2014

  • LION AND THE LAMB: Digging beneath the headlines

    Our media have been focusing on two important events that have taken place overseas during the last several weeks.

    April 1, 2014

  • WE THE PEOPLE: SNAP, health and work

    A recent letter from Representative Diane Black to me states that she voted for the farm bill (with $8 million in Food Stamp (SNAP) benefit cuts) because she, like me, is a supporter of food stamp benefits for Tennessee families who qualify. That’s a lot of families, as most recipients are families with children and the elderly. Now, recall that there was already a major cut to the food stamp program back in the fall. But for some Republicans, that was not enough.

    April 1, 2014

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