Former Congressional candidate and local entrepreneur Weston Wamp said he and his father, former Congressman Zach Wamp, have been criss-crossing the country as part of an effort to make politics less venemous.
Mr. Wamp told members of the Downtown Kiwanis Club that the major political parties have morphed "into a tribalism that is as serious as SEC football."
He said attack politics going on all across America "worries me."
The speaker cited Ward Baker, a Marsha Blackburn aide, who told a group of Republican activists that Phil Bredesen would be defeated by “death by 10,000 cuts.” Baker also said, "We have a list of everybody who's screwing us" and he said, according to a Tennessean article, of those who do not come back into the Republican fold "I’ll do everything in my power to make sure that they have trouble living in the future.”
In contrast, Mr. Wamp said GOP candidate Bill Lee came from nowhere in the Tennessee gubernatorial race by taking the high road. He said when other candidates were blasting out attack ads against one another, he stayed out of the fray as his stock soared and he eventually won.
The speaker said, "The antidote (to the rancor) is empathy."
He said great leaders in the past have been willing to reach across the aisle and consider other viewpoints.
Mr. Wamp said when his father was in Congress he had both Republican and Democratic roommates and it helped him to see "the other side" up close.
He said part of the effort of Fix Politics Now is curbing gerrymandering of districts and campaign finance reform. Zach Wamp is among 200 former members of Congress, governors and cabinet secretaries - 45 percent Republicans and 55 percent Democrats - involved in the effort. Former Senator Bill Brock is among those active in the movement.
The speaker said it is becoming more obvious that many candidates "are bought and paid for" and that "the dark money controls."
He said he is hopeful that some more reasonable drawing of the 3rd District boundaries will take place, noting they now stretch from the bottom of the state to the top.
Mr. Wamp said lobbying in the days of JFK was a $30 million business. Now it's $3.3 billion, he said.
The speaker, who now is the father of three with his wife Shelby, said he still enjoys his two-hour Saturday morning show on ESPN Radio in which he combines the topics of sports and politics.
He said, "I think about quitting it, then somebody at Walmart will come up and tell me how much they enjoy it."