The world we live in today is complex and the nation is obviously much more complex than it was in 1776. With over 300 million diverse people from all walks of life and socio-economic backgrounds living together, most viable public policy solutions of the modern era, don't fit neatly on a bumper sticker or get solved by simplistic slogans.
I think most American people want responsible elected representatives to work in and through our democratic government institutions to address and solve important public problems while adhering to the principles in our founding documents, supporting free, but fair markets and fiscal responsibility. They generally do not want representatives who assault, undermine and obstruct the democratic process that helps provide, freedom, order, and viability to a civil society.
The anti-government, Tea Party crowd often opposes government just because it's government without much thought beyond that. For instance, many anti-government forces have the desire to sell TVA and it's network of dams and power plants that control flooding, provide recreational opportunities, promote commerce and give us lower cost power than the private sector to operate our homes and businesses. About 13% lower, according to a recent independent study.
The anti-government crowd doesn't realize that without proper funding for government built roads and infrastructure we would not have the freedom of commerce, free markets or the ability to get goods to market and expand the economy. They often fail to realize without reasonable government regulations we will likely go back to to a world of highly polluted air, water, unsafe food and defective products that would restrict our freedom more than enhance it. The anti-government crowd wants to eliminate vital minimum wage laws that in reality help to protect single moms and others working full-time so they are more likely to gain needed economic freedom to afford gas for a car, rent an apartment or buy baby formula for their child and avoid government subsidy. The anti-government crowd often talks about the desire to either eliminate or greatly reduce Social Security and Medicare. Ignoring the fact that we have contributed to these programs and most of us will have to rely on them in our senior years to help ensure we will not go hungry, lose our homes/apartments and have access to health care. The anti-government crowd wants to remove or restrict reasonable public funding to just about everything that is important to a free, orderly and civil society just because it's considered "government." They don't seem to understand that in a democracy like ours, good government actually enhances people's freedoms rather than restricts them and good government promotes business opportunity rather than suppresses it.
Lamar Alexander has been successfully supporting good government, promoting business and solving complex state and national issues for a long time. His successes are evident. His experience and ability to responsibly work with others to get things accomplished is what we need more of in Washington, not less. Political neophytes who have a "my way or the highway" attitude with no real knowledge, understanding or willingness to work with others on complex national problems that deeply affect people's lives and personal freedoms are much less likely to succeed in making our country better.
Take the Patriot Act for example. The Tea Party wants to repeal it and criticizes Alexander for supporting it.
In reality, the Patriot Act enhances our freedoms instead of destroying them. The Patriot Act gives the FBI and NSA the legal authorization to monitor certain communications between suspected terror cells overseas with contacts in this country. There is a system of checks and balances in place through properly constructed Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) courts to oversee and review such monitoring activity to ensure compliance with the Constitution and prohibit government overreach and abuse in most all cases. If abuse should occur from some rouge employee there is a system in place to deal with it, within the Rule of Law.
The Patriot Act is necessary today because those wishing the USA harm have access to weapons of mass destruction unlike in 1776 when the enemy had single-shot muskets, wore nice red-coats and marched in formation.
Today's enemies are both individual terrorist and state sponsored terrorist groups that work in secret, communicate electronically and attempt to blend into society until ready to strike. They have or are working on the ability to quickly disperse nuclear, radiological, chemical, and biological weapons in large-scale, populated areas right here in the U.S.
Without legislation like the Patriot Act, the chances of thousands or tens of thousands of Americans being injured/killed and whole American city blocks being vaporized or destroyed is real and much greater.
The FBI and NSA are not interested in anyone's phone call with aunt Suzie or what website a curious college student may have visited. Those are protected by the First Amendment. But, if a terrorist group is talking to contacts inside the USA about exploding a nuclear device in downtown St.Louis, or flying planes into the Capitol or shooting up Hamilton Place Mall, you bet they are interested and they absolutely should be. American lives and our very freedoms to conduct business, raise families and live free from harm depend on this legislation at this time in our history.
The Tea Party crowds naïveté on this and several other issues, while maybe well meaning, is alarming.
Lamar Alexander understands the importance of following the Constitution and the Rule of Law, which is exactly why he and others knowledgeable in national security matters and the role of government in protecting it's citizen's from harm supported the Patriot Act. The Patriot Act was passed by a Republican controlled congress, signed by a Republican president and has continually passed Constitutional muster by an independent judiciary.
If the Tea Party were successful in their effort to repeal such legislation thousands of Americans would be much more likely to be killed in un-thwarted terror attacks reducing our freedom to live our lives as we see generally see fit. Another big terrorist attack on US soil will likely happen one day, even with these safeguards in place, because the enemy is persistent, mobile and uses changing technology to its advantage. But, legislation like the Patriot Act, as it stands today, at least gives us a fighting chance to protect American citizen's freedoms by thwarting attacks before they occur. Without legislation like the Patriot Act. we have little chance of stopping future terror attacks.
Lamar Alexander brings a lot of knowledge and experience to the public arena. He has served Tennessee and the nation well for many years. I trust his experience and judgment in Washington. He will thoroughly study issues and work with others to find reasonable, balanced, workable solutions to our problems. He will not just blindly follow slogans claiming government "tyranny" and "abuse" that really doesn't exist.
He supports free, but fair markets where investors, customers and the public interest are reasonably accounted for and not exploited or abused by unscrupulous, unregulated forces. He supports fiscal responsibility by reducing the national debt, as we all do. However, unlike some, he knows there is a responsible way to accomplish this and an irresponsible way.
Let's not always tear down our vital democratic government institutions and unmercifully criticize those we elected to responsibly study issues and serve in our representative republic.
Become engaged, study the issues and vote for those who best represent your interest and the interest of our nation.
Our government is not all bad and not all government taxation, spending or regulation is bad. While not perfect, we have a good government. The key is finding balance and the right approach.
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Thank you, Tim, for the excellent analysis of Lamar Alexander. While I do not agree with Lamar on every issue, I do believe that he does try to be representative of the diverse population of the great state of Tennessee. The founders' intention in creating the United States Senate was to avoid populist ideology and be the more deliberative body. The United States Senate was also designed to represent the interests of the state as a whole, not individual politically drawn districts. This is reflected in the fact that while the entirety of House members undergo election every two years and allows for the people to provide the federal government with the populist view of the times.
With each state designated two senators, only one-third of the members of the Senate are up for election to allow for a calming mechanism on difficult and politically charged issues to be reasonably discussed and a consensus to be formed. In politics today, we seem to have devolved into an us versus them attitude. It seems the electorate wants his or her way or nothing at all. No person or political party has exclusive license to patriotism or ideas. The very thing that makes America great is our ability to debate, compromise, and then unite. It seems that some are satisfied to only debate and avoid the necessity of actually governing.
Just weeks ago, I was shocked to see a large group of "tea party" members take up arms in Nevada because the Bureau of Land Management, who under a federal court order, had gone to remove the cattle of a rancher from federal land who refused to pay for the use of said public lands. It is unimaginable to me that the rule of law in this country has broken down to the rule of a mob. I have had the privilege to have first-hand experience working with our local federal law enforcement agents. I cannot say that I have met a more patriotic and professional group of individuals who work tirelessly and place themselves in harm's way to protect us and the Constitution. These public servants are willing to step in front of any danger to protect their fellow citizens. It is revolting that this Tea Party organization would take up sniper positions on federal officials in the performance of their sworn duty, and over something as trivial as cattle nonetheless, is offensive and should be universally rejected.
As Tim mentioned, the Tennessee chapter of the Tea Party has been after Lamar Alexander because he is doing his job as the founders envisioned. It is unreasonable that seemingly sane and educated individuals would demand that Lamar would agree with them on each and every issue. There is no evidence that would show that Senator Alexander has done anything but seek to do what he believes is best for the citizens of Tennessee. In fact, it takes courage to represent and listen to views that you may not personally have. Any leader selected at-large has a responsibility to be inclusive of the minority opinion. Our country needs leaders, not ideologues and pundits with catchy phrases that serve only to divide us. An effective leader seeks to do what is right, not just what is popular.
I thank Senator Alexander for his service and I will proudly cast my vote to re-elect him. I encourage everyone to take the time to honor those who gave the ultimate sacrifice that allows us to freely choose our leaders and vote. My greatest wish is that Americans will remember that their neighbors are not the enemy. We have plenty of enemies in this world and we should focus our attention to dealing with them. If we work together towards common goals it will only make us stronger and safer.
E PLURIBUS UNUM (Out of many, one)
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Lamar Alexander votes over 60 percent of the time with Barrack Obama. The Tea Party is more a set of ideals based upon the Constitution and that is not a document to be made fun of to many Americans. So if you agree with Obama the majority of the time and sneer at constitutional principles, imagining that it is an outdated and backwards set of ideas, maybe Lamar Alexander is your guy, in my opinion.
Joe Carr, the man running for Lamar Alexander's current position, can't talk about anything without bringing up the Constitution in a reverent way, actually, I feel that is what our founding fathers intended, to use the Constitution as a guideline, don't you?
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Not to denigrate Mr. Gobble in any manner, but his essay could easily have been written by Barack Obama himself.
I am certainly not part of the “Tea Party crowd” but I am probably very naïve, and with respect to "political" matters a simpleton if the truth be known. However I can say the last six years have been a nightmare for many of us and I have yet to see any evidence from the GOP "establishment" that they really give a whit about what is happening to our country.
The U.S. healthcare system, our necessary place in the world, our military, our economic underpinnings, our social and moral climate, all have been greatly damaged.
When I send letters or emails to my government representatives all I get back are statements that they are working on the issues I am concerned about or that they “voted” this way or that way. I see no tangible results.
Mr. Gobble's essay mentioned that if not for certain national security measures supported by certain establishment politicians we would be like the British Red Coats of the Revolution being mowed down by the wily Americans. I would contend that the Republican establishment is playing the role of the Red Coats now by lining up, giving their predictable speeches, casting their votes, and being mowed down by the juggernaut of Barack Obama.
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Do you have any idea what the Tea Party is really about? We are not anti government – we are pro constitution. We are anti nanny state and don’t believe the government should tell us how we must live. (See Michelle Obama and her lunch program for starters) We don’t believe the government is the answer to all our problems, we think that we the people are. We believe that the federal government should not be in the business of choosing winners and losers. We also believe that being a congressmen or senator should not be a lifetime job, but a short term commitment to serving the country. Lamar Alexander has made his wealth from public office – how does that happen? If for no other reason, I would vote for Joe Carr, but with Alexander’s record in office, it is an easy decision.
As to the rest of your opinion letter, Tim, you have not worked in the real world, you too have lived off government jobs. Try and run a business and you will find that the reasonable regulations aren’t so reasonable after all. The federal government was put in place to do the things the states couldn’t. The closer that government is to the people, the more effective it will be.
As for the Patriot Act, it is loaded with provisions that are not constitutional. Security is important, but so is freedom. I guess you have not stayed up with the current news of how the NSA is tracking all of us.
Chattanooga Tea Party