Tennessee –-(Ammoland.com)- The message from election day 2016 is that the path on which many entrenched, Establishment Republicans have been on for the last two decades has been overwhelmingly rejected by almost all conservatives in the nation. An entire barnyard of Establishment candidates were offered by the national party (and its local loyalists) were rejected in the primaries and the non-Establishment Donald Trump was picked by the people despite the clear preferences of party leaders.
So, what does this mean in Tennessee? It means that the existing oligarchy of establishment Republican leaders such as Haslam, Harwell and others have had their chances but its time for new, conservative non-establishment leaders to take the lead and put the state of Tennessee back on the path of conservative principles rather than pandering to Big Business, Big Government, and others who are misaligned with the core functions of a constitutional republic.
The purpose of the Tennessee Legislature in a constitutional republic is to set public policy through debate and deliberation by those individuals from all across the state who have been elected by their constituents as their representative voice in government.
Policy should not be set by a mere handful of minions or elite members of leadership because that would be an oligarchy. Public policy should be set by the entire body of the House and the Senate considering and debating issues of significance such as the recognition and protection of rights that are expressly recognized in our state and federal constitutions, taxation, education, the push back against federalism, refugee resettlement, open borders and other major topics.
The lack of an effective voice in government affairs by the people is fundamentally one of the things that brought about the American Revolution. It is likely one of the things that has given rise to the “Trump Train” revolution.
Governance without representation is the core concept behind “taxation without representation”. It cannot be genuinely debated that the management of a committee system which effectively keeps significant constitutional or public interest proposed legislation bottled up in subcommittees or committees and away from floor debates is anything but abusive and antithetical to a constitutional republic.
When we have “governance without representation”, as has happened repeatedly the last 6 years on Second Amendment legislation (and numerous other core conservative issues), it becomes clear that the public policy of the state, as stated in its statutes, is not being crafted by a fully representative government.
To the contrary, only those handful of issues which the existing legislative leadership of the last six years “allows” to survive leadership’s committee system maze are ever considered by the entire body. All of the other issues that are derailed, “black holed”, or otherwise buried in the committee system are examples of where the vast majority of Tennesseans are effectively disenfranchised because their elected officials never debate or vote on these issues at all.
This problem of disenfranchisement or “governance without representation” lies directly with the leadership composition of the Senate and the House.
Ron Ramsey has retired as the leader of the Senate and a new leader will be selected by its members perhaps on November 17, 2016. There will be a new Lt. Governor in the Tennessee Senate. A burden that the next Lt. Governor will have is to ensure that the Senate’s committee system is operated to craft the best public policy and not to strangle the development of public policy to suit the desires of a small oligarchy of Senate leaders.
In the House, Beth Harwell has held the office of Speaker for the last 6 years. Under the House Rules, the Speaker “shall preserve order and decorum and may speak to points of order in preference to other members.” The Speaker holds the power to create and appointment members to House committees and subcommittees. Perhaps of greater importance, the Speaker solely designates the chairmen of the House committees.
The last six years have proven that the Establishment Republican perspective and control tactics of Beth Harwell cannot be reconciled with the current trend that the voters have demanded across Tennessee by their overwhelming support of Donald Trump.
Certainly, not every bill that is filed should be debated on the floor. However, there are bills each year that are filed, that are serious bills worthy of full debate but which have been derailed to the trash heap of the committee system because one or two votes in a committee of perhaps 4 or 5 responded to the “call” of the oligarchy. Too many times it has been reported by a sponsor that they were admonished before or after the committee vote that “that bill was never supposed to be voted upon.”
While a committee system could function efficiently to improve the system, there is a great risk to the rights of the public if the system is used instead as a tool by leadership to limit the boundaries of the floor debates to only those topics previously approved for choreographic presentation. This is one of the problems that we have seen with Beth Harwell’s tenure as Speaker and is one of the reasons (among many others) that Tennesseans should now demand a new, more accountable Speaker.
The “pink elephant” in the room is that Beth Harwell’s prior actions as Speaker evidence conclusively that it is time for a new Speaker in the House. This is not a popularity contest. It is a question of whether the systems and actions of the House over the last 6 years should be continued in 2017. The answer is “NO” if the goal is to preserve and promote a constitutional republic where all public stewards have a voice in the formation of legislative policy – and not just a handful operating out of a conference room in the Speaker’s bunker.
What are some of the characteristics of Harwell’s tenure which compel the conclusion that its time for a new leader? The non-exhaustive list includes perhaps some of these recurrent themes and embarrassments:
What has become clear over the last 6 years is that the leadership in the Tennessee House Speaker’s office has not been focused on maintaining the decorum of that branch of state government or even insuring that the committee system works as it should (rather than as merely a maze for the oligarchy of leadership to derail legislation that the oligarchy wants to stop).
What has been painfully clear to conservatives is that the oligarchy of Tennessee’s House leadership (which apparently includes the governor) is more concerned with political power and future office possibilities rather than making sure that public policy issues of significance are put on the House floor for a full and fair discussions. There is even some evidence that “indiscretions” such as drunkenness and sexual misconduct may be overlooked by House leadership if the misbehaving legislator or staffer is sufficiently loyal to leadership.
The fact seems to be that the oligarchy of House leadership seems perfectly willing and adept at manipulating the committee system to yield “governance without representation” so long as the sausage coming out of the grinder is flavored to their tastes. That is not how or why a constitutional republic is selected or is intended to function. That is nothing more than an oligarchy pretending to trick voters into thinking that they actually have a voice and representation in government.
Tennesseans should not be required to accept “governance without representation”. Tennesseans should be contacting their elected officials immediately after the November elections and demanding that the leadership of the House and Senate be constituted so that “decorum” is restored and that the risks of disenfranchisement through a misused committee system are minimized or eliminated.
Since it appears that the Republican caucus will meet on or about November 17 to select its “leadership” team, it is critical that you contact your elected representatives and senators and demand that the old ways be put aside and that new leaders, leaders committed to the proper functioning of a constitutional republic, be selected to lead the Tennessee legislature through the surging changes that are expected in the first 2 years of a Donald Trump “non-establishment” administration.
Take time now to make those calls, send those emails, and impress upon your elected representatives that Tennessee must have at this time new, principled leaders who put the constitutional principles and the interests of the voters FIRST.
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