Tea Party's Real Agenda Is Social And Not Fiscal - And Response

Monday, January 27, 2014

In reading about the efforts of the local "Tea Party" group to deny benefits to some city employees and now their efforts to recall City Councilman Chris Anderson, I certainly have questions about the supposed "Tea Party's" agenda and mission both locally and nationally.  When they came on the scene their stated mission was that of fiscal responsibility in government.  I personally, thought, "what a great idea?!"  I think most taxpayers can get behind that message.  What I've witnessed is a constant and steady slide into social issues that, in effect, dilutes their message and (whether it be their true agenda or the agenda of some of their zealot members) calls into question what they are truly about.  Given that additional elections (they have signatures to require a vote in an effort to overturn a City Council decision to give healthcare benefits to a handful of gay employees who may have domestic partners) and recalls require the city to spend additional funds to hold elections to address these social fairness issues, one has to question their true agenda.

This group has campaigned for months now in local churches and other venues to get signatures on petitions.  Some local clergy have embraced this message of discrimination and have called into question the salvation of members who would think of not signing these petitions.  I've heard it done but it takes a strange and out-of-context twisting of scripture to use the Bible to support bigotry; particularly for Christians who supposedly use the New Testament as their rule of faith, practice, government, and discipline. 

What is of further concern to me is when I read about the "black community" and its leaders in District 7 rallying around this recall.  How quickly we forget.  This group of people who, not that long ago, suffered discrimination and failed to enjoy full citizenship, are now criticizing efforts by the City Council to ensure that another minority enjoys full rights and benefits.  Has this group forgotten the past or is this a group that is angry over not getting a million dollars from the city for a pet project?

We must learn and never forget the lessons of the past and one of those being that any time the majority can discriminate against a minority, we are all the worse for it.  They will come for this group, and then that group, and eventually, they will come for your group.  I believe all prejudice and bigotry is based in fear and ignorance.  When we listen and understand that people basically all want and need the same things and that there is generally plenty of all of that to go around, we no longer fear.  Fear drives most, if not all, political campaigns these days.  We all fall victim to their messages from time to time but I think we must rise above those messages of fear and call for our government to treat all people equally, respecting the dignity of every human being, judging people on their character and not a characteristic.  To move forward we must always stand against discrimination in whatever form it takes. 

From where I sit, it looks like the "Tea Party," locally and otherwise, has a social agenda and is willing to force government to spend money it cannot afford to respond to that agenda; where is the "fiscal conservatism" in that?

John Dixon

Signal Mountain 

* * *

Dear Mr. Dixon,
Perhaps you should sell your home on Signal Mountain and move into the city or better yet the 7th district, to have a legitimate voice in this conversation. That aside I must ask:  have you ever attended a Chattanooga Tea Party meeting? I would venture a guess of “probably not and never will.” In addition, have you had any personal discussions with any “black community” leaders? If neither is true, then you have no legitimate credibility upon which to base your arguments. All you have is your personal opinion and detached observations based on biased national and local media. Secondly, the CTP is not behind the District 7 effort to recall Councilman Anderson. There may be some CTP members who are involved, but they have every right to engage in any activity they desire to pursue. 

Let’s address your denial of benefits claim. You never stated the obvious.  Why should the city grant new benefits to a special interest group of employees while at the same time actively working to reduce and/or take away the contractual benefits for other employees?  The idea of not granting these questionable benefits is absolutely a fiscal issue, and also a social issue. 

You also failed to include the largest group who might apply for the domestic partner benefits – unmarried heterosexual couples. The personnel department could only give a general estimate of the total cost, while admitting their inability to project the true cost.  Ignoring the questionable numbers, five members of the City Council decided a rough estimate was good enough for them.  Moreover, the issue seems more about personal ambitions and special interests of Councilman Anderson and his influencing four other council members to pander to the ultra-liberal faction of their party, including Mayor Berke. 

Concerning the referendum petition effort, you incorrectly stated, “This group has campaigned for months now in local churches and other venues to get signatures on petitions.”  In reality the petition effort, by law, lasted only 14 days. The petition itself did not exist until it was approved by the election commission Nov. 25. 

The voters of the 7th district knew Councilman Anderson was homosexual when they voted him into office. His sexual preferences and lifestyle were never the issue until he personally started choosing winners and losers, refused to return phone calls and emails, and disrespected community leaders. Furthermore, the 7th district has numerous issues which have nothing at all to do with what Anderson has shown to be his personal agenda so far: urban chickens, same-sex benefits, the ability of a grocery store to sell high gravity beer and city employees to remain on the job while running for political office. None of this landmark legislation deals with most of the needs and desires of the citizens of the 7th district. 

Discrimination cuts both ways and it is Councilman Anderson who has used most of the low road dialogue so far. Throwing around words such as “haters,” “homophobes,” and “bigots” does nothing but increase divisiveness over volatile issues.  The citizens have every right to demand that Councilman Anderson sets aside his personal agenda and work to correct the long time refusal by a legion of city leaders, white and black, to address the poverty, lack of affordable housing, economic development and crime in many areas of Chattanooga. 

I do not feel sorry for Councilman Anderson. If he had run his election campaign on what he has shown to be his true agenda, he would never have been elected. Many in the 7th district believe he is nothing but a liar because of this. Several of the 7th district citizens who supported his campaign are now part of the group seeking to recall him. I believe it is a sad commentary on his true personality and ulterior motives in seeking political office. He has a full-time job and devotes himself at best only part-time to his duties for the 7th district. It appears the constituents are getting very little for their voter support last March and are now justifiably disappointed and upset. Now Councilman Anderson is playing the “poor discriminated gay boy” card as he now begs for donations to fight the recall effort.  

Carl Walls
Chattanooga


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