Roy Exum: Who Do You Trust?

Monday, October 22, 2018 - by Roy Exum
Roy Exum
Roy Exum

About this time last month a 25-year-old kid with a fresh degree in “public policy” left me a phone call hoping to get my views. Joda Thongnopnua is the Democratic candidate for the State House in District 30 and he is like a load of other erstwhile politicians in my experience who I’ve never heard of but “really want to meet me” … this with less than a month before they “really” want some sway for your vote.

I don’t blame kids like Joda, trying to be the quarterback for the Green Bay Packers with no experience or ever taking a snap in any football practice of any kind. Had I met the youngster, his head crammed full of some kooky college professor’s theories, it would have been an absolute waste of my time. He’s running against Esther Helton, who I have known and respected for a long time and, in truth, I’ve already checked her name on my early ballot.

About the same time Joda played his “Roy card,” he got the newspaper all stirred by loudly calling for “debates and forums,” heaven help us all, and I told Esther some good advice. Never get in a fight with a pig “because you both get dirty and the pig likes it.” Face it, Thongnopnua is a heavy underdog with everything to gain with any exposure he can get, while Esther, her political base solid and her experience as an East Ridge commissioner proven, would gain zilch. A debate would be ridiculous.

Thongnopnua is getting clobbered in the early voting and, come election day on Nov. 6, it’ll be worse. I can give you five names that assure me Joda will fall mightily: California Senator Diane Feinstein, Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, accuser Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and Senate candidate Phil Bredesen.

Ironically, it was Schumer who said it best: “There are so many millions who are outraged at what happened here, there’s only one answer: Vote,” Schumer said after Kavanaugh was sworn in. What Chuck can’t see is the “many millions” wouldn’t vote for a Democrat any more than they would join their obnoxious mob.

All across Tennessee the early voting numbers are breaking records and there is a very good reason there is a super majority of Republicans in the state House. It all comes down to trust. Would you vote for a 56-year-old polished and professional Republican or a 25-year-old Democrat with a degree from the zanies who taught him public policy?

Esther Helton will be a delightful edition to the Chattanooga area delegation. She has long friendships with all of them and the fact she will be joined in the legislature by newcomer Robin Smith will enhance Hamilton County’s footprint in state politics under a vibrant new Governor, Bill Lee. Robin’s going to be really exciting to watch with her long reach in state politics as her greatest blessing and don’t discount the fact she and Esther are best friends.

Now tell the truth … Can you imagine our 25-year-old Joda Thongnopnua eating scrambled eggs with Bo Watson, Todd Gardenhire, Mike Carter, Patsy Hazlewood and the rest? If he doesn’t say the blessing, my friend, he’s completely out of the conversation. And for the record, those who taught Joda public policy wouldn’t have much shine at that breakfast table either. A big dynamic, believe it or not, is that the smart people who vote a Democratic ticket realize the kid is a terrible fit for what Southeast Tennessee needs. Teamwork wins.

But there is this … I am eager to have lunch with Joda after the election. The fact he’s a David vs. Goliath without nary a stone in his slingshot bag is pathetic in a way – blame the party for that – but I’m much more interested in what Joda Thongnopnua will bring to us in the future. Despite his bumbling inexperience and lack of a political road map, I appreciate his moxie. I can easily predict I’ll like him.

Unlike the Democrats and Republicans both, our nation must begin to recognize and cultivate the leaders of our next generation. Look at our choices to replace Bob Corker as Senator from Tennessee. On one hand we’ve got a tired 75-year-old man who has been out of politics so long they probably had to use crowbars and airplane glue for him to take a stand.

Bredesen’s opponent is the worst Republican politician in the history of the United States. I loathe what Marsha Blackburn has personally done to enhance the torture of Tennessee Walking Horses, how much money from opioid makers and “big pharma” she has used to feather her nest, but with Bredesen as such a huge bullet for Schumer’s shenanigans, you have to hold your nose at the ballot box against all principle and do what is best for the United States of America. Vote against Fibbin’ Phil.

The biggest thing that has ever affected my political convictions may well be the Kavanaugh hearings. When I watched a wild mob racing through our Capitol, actually violating laws because of their “convictions” (and the daily pay check they were paid for being such rubes) it is actually sickening. I am further convinced those like Feinstein, Schumer, Bernie Sanders, Richard Blumenthal don’t have America’s best interests at heart.  I’d love to scream “Shame! Shame!” too, but I haven’t any orange marmalade to slather on my English toast like the liberal elite do.

The only interest Blumenthal is worried about is on the reported $125 million he has in the bank. Money – big money – now makes far more moral and ethical decisions, and everywhere we turn we find Americans “want their country back.” To do that, we must find new promising leaders, and don’t leave without admitting Republican antique Mitch McConnell is in a tight race as the one who is ruining our political process in his insane quest for dysfunction.

I believe our political healing needs to start on the local level. And it all comes down to a matter of trust. Please vote.

* * *

Incidentally, if you want to have some fun with state politics, you want to know who will take Lamar Alexander’s seat in the Senate when he steps away? There is a trauma surgeon at Vanderbilt by the name of Manish Kumar Sethi, MD. He’s the brightest star on the state’s horizon and – remember you heard it here first – you are going to love this guy “Mani.”

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