To nobody’s surprise, Bill Haslam won the Republican nomination for Governor of Tennessee on Thursday, and everybody will be surprised if he doesn’t coast from here to the governorship. Haslam’s victory, I suspect, is largely attributable to the fact that he had not one but two tea-partiers snapping at his heels. Between them, they drew almost half the votes. If Ramsey or Wamp had had the psychological skill to let go of his own ambitions, step aside, and let the other go one-on-one with Haslam, things might have turned out differently, but tea-partiers are not known for their psychological skills. If they ever did take control of the government, I think things would get chaotic in a hurry…but they’re too crazy to win, even in a crazy state like Tennessee. And so Haslam, who seems like a cross between Phil Bredesen and George Bush, is the Republican nominee, and the race is his to lose.
His main competitor has staked out a number of basically Republican positions for his platform–which is why I’m calling him “Me, Too” McWherter. If Wamp or Ramsey had become the Republican candidate, at least we’d have a clear choice between a right-wing crazy and middle-of-the-road mediocrity. As it is, a Mc-Wherter-Haslam contest has all the drama and polarity of a faceoff between Tweedledee and Tweedledum.
“Me, too” McWherter supports Arizona’s imposition of a police state for brown-skinned people. “May I see your papers, please?“ I can remember when patriotic Americans were proud that that was a question that only got asked behind the Iron Curtain.
He thinks “intelligent design” should be taught in public schools, with evolution given some attention as a “theory.”
He is against a state income tax, a gross act of pandering to the lowest common denominator. It is this state’s fiscal downfall that wealthy conservatives have sold the average Tennessean on the phony idea that an income tax would affect primarily low- and middle-income people. That’ s a lie, and McWherter lacks the courage to confront it. But hey….he’s rich enough that if we had a state income tax, he’d have to pay it.
He showed further lack of courage when asked about the issue of the Murfreesboro Mosque–”you can’t just drop these things into a neighborhood,” he said–as if the Muslim population of Murfreesboro somehow has fewer rights than, say, the town’s Baptists.
He has also said he’s against allowing gay couples to adopt children. Frankly, I think this is an absurdly trivial issue, only pushed to the forefront because peoples’ phobias are being amplified as the general crisis of our culture intensifies, and those who will not face what is happening grow ever more frantic in their efforts to avoid the real issues.
Asked about abortion, he has said that while he, personally, is opposed to it, the decision should be between a woman and her doctor, and not a matter of state law. That’s the traditional sop the Democrats throw to women–”vote for us, we’ll screw you over every other way the Republicans will, but at least we’re pro-choice.” But he opposes state funding for abortions–so if you’re poor and pregnant and don’t want to have a baby, tough nuggies.
So….with Democrats like this, who needs Republicans?
Considering the scope and depth of of the problems that face Tennessee, we need a real alternative, and fortunately, one is available. Howard Switzer is once again running as the Green Party’s candidate for Governor. With McWherter given a snowball’s chance in hell of winning, I’m hoping that hordes of voters will give up on him and opt for Howard instead, to send a message to the Tennessee Democratic Party that people are on to their Tweedledee vs. Tweedledum relationship with the Republicans. It would be a first, but stranger things have happened!
music: James McMurtry “We Can’t Make It Here Anymore”