Letter: Boxes Within Boxes

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602 S. Gay Street
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Knoxville, TN 37902

Those suspicious of voters who vote are no doubt delighted with a Republican proposal to have legislators in Nashville choose Tennessee’s candidates for the U.S. Senate. And in a way, it is a miraculous idea. Making senators beholden to Nashville legislators instead of Tennessee voters promises a level of creative corruption new to most of us, and that’s saying a lot, considering the fecal nature of our politics during the past few decades. But never underestimate the new GOP. That’s why I say hats off to visionary state Sen. Frank Niceley and the mystifying Frank Cagle [“Getting Attention,” Frank Talk, Feb 14, 2013] for thinking deeply inside the box and finding yet more boxes. It’s all quite simple, really. Why should voters bother with federal primary elections when someone in Nashville can do our thinking for us?

Not that I’m necessarily opposed to Niceley’s bill. Watching U.S. senators kiss Nashville derrière would be spectacularly entertaining. Just how deeply and how lovingly must a future LAMAR! gum the gluteus of some homegrown paragon of neo-billy rectitude such as Stacey Campfield whenever nomination day rolls around? How much back-room ideological slobber and inchoate drool would be required to secure one prickly vote from one prickish chawbacon strutting the obscured halls of the Tennessee State House?

So I say go for it, GOP! Niceley’s bill promises the best political theater since Basil Marceaux.com squared off with June Griffin to win the Republican nomination for some obscure Nashville office a few years ago, though precisely which office they sought none of us can quite remember. But who cares? We’re talking Nashville here.

Which raises the question: Nashville who? Dolly lives in Sevierville, and the Vols are right here at home! Nashville is a crowded, greasy spot on the interstate! And that, my friend, is probably the whole point of Sen. Niceley’s proposal. Few of us know what goes on in those dank warrens beneath Legislative Plaza, and those who know ain’t saying all that much. So if his bill passes, look for FRANK! signs to appear all too suddenly in your neighborhood. And if you like the guy, send him some Chapstick.

Brian Griffin

Knoxville

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Comments » 2

Americanvoter writes:

) Sir you must be a product of the current education system. The 17TH Amendment was passed in 1912 changing the election of State Senate from State Legislators to popular vote. The purpose of Senators being appointed by the State Legislators was for the states to have a voice in the Federal Government and the Senators were beholden to the States. Not some special interest group on the other side of the country. Don’t believe me just look at the source of their campaign funds today. If the Senator of the State voted for some bill that would hurt their State he could be replaced. No more unfunded Federal Mandates! The Congress represents the people in the Legislation. The Senate represents the States. You elect the state legislation that elects the state Senator. Now your vote for State Legislator becomes very important. Here’s a good test give your State Legislator a call at home. Then call your US Senator at his home.
You could say that the States no longer have the power they had in the beginning thanks to a Republican named Lincoln. In the beginning each State was a Sovereign Country called a State joining together to form a Union of Countries. Called the United States of American. The Constitution was document written by Sovereign People representing Sovereign States placing restrictions on the Federal Government not limits on the people. If you did not like the laws in the State you were living and could not get others to see it your way. You could vote with your feet and move.
I for one fully support Sen. Frank Niceley as a US Senator and I would vote for a State Rep. that tells me that is the way he would vote. If you would sit down and talk with Sen. Niceley you could understand his knowledge of the intent of the founding Fathers. As a Farmer he is a man that has signed the front of a check not only the back.
Remember this one thing in 1912 the same progressive government that passed the 17th Amendment also passed the 16th Amendment (1909) that gave us an Income Tax.
How’s that working for you?

briangriffin writes:

Thank you for your concern about my education. I spent a lot of time ducking-and-covering at school and probably missed something.

In a way, my education might not be as "current," as you suggest. For example, I've always harbored the notion that Americans voting for their representatives is a good thing. Apparently that idea is not very popular among current Republican Party authorities and their highly-trained mouthpieces. By such standards I guess I'm more "old-fashioned" than "current." But because the "current educational system" teaches that all Americans should vote, I can see why you think my views on voting are "current" and therefore suspicious. My support of voting rights conflicts with conservative Republican efforts to resurrect restrictions on voting rights. In short, I think voting is great and should be expanded, while today's "conservatives" distrust voting and want to restrict it.

Being happy about my right to vote for U.S. Senators is something I have in common with William Jennings Bryan. Bryan was a big supporter of the 17th Amendment, the one that allows citizens to vote for U.S. Senators -- the amendment you seem to dislike.

You might have liked Bryan, though! Like you, he favored old-fashioned education instead of the "current" approach of his day. For example, he was suspicious of the expansion of public high schools because some of them taught modern ideas about science. A few even began teaching human biology without including religion, and chimpanzees became very popular figures in both politics and religion. As I'm sure you know, Tennessee's preachers opposed public high schools because of this. That's why Bryan agreed to prosecute a Dayton teacher accused of teaching modern, "current" ideas about human biology in one of those new-fangled "high schools" that somehow got built in Dayton, Tennessee, over everybody's dead body.

I was named after Bryan because my family thought he was a good Christian and a terrific guy. However, my name was spelled wrong on my birth certificate. Apparently my father wrote "Brian" instead of "Bryan" on the hospital form. He and my mother and my grandfather all apologized to me about this when they realized, years later, what they had done. (I pointed this out to them myself when I was eight years old.) Even so, I do not doubt that my family's distrust of education remained strong. Like you, they were suspicious of the "current" education of their day.

In any event, I guess we have to agree to disagree. I'm big on voting. You're not. That's okay. You don't have to vote unless you just want to.

About the income tax that you mentioned. How's that working for me? Well, I'm okay with my share. I like America, and I believe our government can improve if those who hate government, such as most of Tennessee's Republican "conservative" representatives, would stop tearing it apart.

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