(This is the third of 10 essays I'm writing before Primary Day on May 3)
In recent years, the long-accepted adage that “all politics is local” has been inverted. Unfortunately, all politics is now national. The controversial issues that drive ratings in primetime on Fox News and MSNBC often dominate local politics.
As Hamilton County prepares to decide who will serve as its fourth county mayor, divisive national issues have already crept in the conversation. Focusing on issues like illegal immigration, which all conservatives oppose, does nothing but distract from conservatives articulating an agenda for local challenges – education, crime and infrastructure.
Last week, a Nashville-based, far-right political website called attention to comments I’ve made about former President Trump. The Free Press editorial page shared some of these comments, including my statement from a 2018 Twitter exchange that Trump was not “a conservative in the traditional sense.” I stand by that.
Like 92,000 other Hamilton Countians, I voted for President Trump. But that doesn’t mean he was perfect or that he’s a role model for children like the four Shelby and I are raising.
Trump was disruptive to the Washington political class. His disregard for political correctness was entertaining, refreshing and, in many cases, effective. However, his frequent personal insults posed a conflict for conservative parents of young children, particularly those of us raising daughters.
Trump’s version of conservatism is closer to national populism than traditional conservatism. He led a movement like none other in my lifetime. But, traditional American conservatism cannot be separated from the principles of fiscal conservatism.
During the four years of the Trump presidency, America’s national debt rose $8 trillion, despite Trump’s promise in 2016 that he would pay off the then $19 trillion debt “over a period of eight years.”
To be clear, many of Trump’s policies were conservative. He was rightfully pro-life, took China to task over its human rights’ abuses and de-regulated numerous industries.
But as the founder of one of the only organizations in America that advocates for generational stewardship and reducing the national debt, I consider myself to be more conservative than Trump.
Last year, the organization I founded, the Millennial Debt Foundation, convened 2,000 conservative leaders across the country to fight wasteful government spending and advocate generationally responsible policy at all levels of government. Our events have featured strong fiscally conservative voices like Senator Tim Scott, Senator Marco Rubio, Rep. Dan Crenshaw, Governor Bill Lee and Senator Joe Manchin.
For the first time in 28 years, our community has an opportunity to consider the direction of Hamilton County government. That conversation should not be hijacked by the dysfunction of our national politics simply for political gain, but should focus on conservative policies with an emphasis on the two most profound roles of local government, education and public safety. That’s what Hamilton County citizens deserve and expect.
Sixty percent of Hamilton County graduates are not ready to go to work or to college, according to the state’s Ready Graduate standard. That is beyond unacceptable. Conservative solutions to education will empower parents, reward our best teachers and principals, and create apprenticeships and increase career training for our students. A conservative agenda aimed at preparing young people for lives of dignified work will reduce crime over the long term in our most hopeless neighborhoods.
They may not admit it on cable news tonight, but these issues matter more than anything being debated in Washington.
* * *
What is wrong Weston, raising complaints about the Tennessee Star’s findings of your anti-Trump efforts?
The political drama of this situation, as it is almost impossible to take back your words the Tennessee Star has published. So now, you respond with rhetoric discrediting national media with the title, “The Peril In Nationalizing Local Politics.”
Let me repeat your title, The-Peril-In-Nationalizing-Local-Politics. Oh no, run for the hills, it sounds like national media is dangerous covering the county mayor’s race. The heart of your message is, don’t read national coverage of the Hamilton County mayor’s race, it could be riddled with danger.
Just come clean and tell the voters the truth, and that ain’t going to cost anything. Tell them you condemned President Trump for years in your work through the political non-profit Issue One.
Weston, your posted words on the Internet are subjected to conservative review on the Tennessee Star, and it is troublesome. It is almost impossible to refute your own words, somehow you just cannot unsay the social media posts and opinion published in national media.
You know sometimes when you're caught, it is just better to come clean.
Instead, you write, national media is bad in local politics. Be truthful, the real peril is that 65 percent of Hamilton County Republicans voted for Donald Trump, and eventually they will be presented with your anti-Trump social media posts and letters of opinion published to national media outlets.
I would also say it is foolish to attempt to capture free campaign media on open venue opinion sites, as your detractors can post here as well.
Weston, you cannot unprint your words. Just come clean, and tell the voters the truth. They may respect the honesty and forgive your lapse in judgment.
The Times Free Press conducted a financial study of your congressional campaign disclosures, and determined that 65 percent of your congressional campaign funds came from Zach Wamp donors.
Yes, the Times Free Press published this data during the Congressional races. The Times Free Press covers national politics, should we ignore them too?
Just tell the truth about your words against The Donald, and cease the C-Street excuses that only work in Washington.