Thursday, November 08, 2012

A Great Response to Today's Post

My old friend Brad Bradley, who now lives north of Little Rock but grew up here and got his law degree from UTK, weighs in on today's post:

I just read your post about rebuilding the Democratic party. I think it is pretty much on point. I disagree a bit with the order of the things you listed. I think that it will be hard to win statewide races in Tenn. unless and until the party learns how important Memphis is to it. I wonder what percentage of the Dem vote is in Memphis and Shelby County?  It all goes back to race and the fear of scary, black, crime-ridden Memphis. Have you read William D. Miller's Mr. Crump of Memphis? It came out in the early 60s and details how Crump was able to make deals with East Tenn. GOPers because the rural/Nashville establishment hated Crump and wanted the power for themselves. I know those days are over but, as you say, there is more to Tenn. that the 440 beltway. The point is that the party has to work together to rebuild; it can't be three or more separate parties.

You are right that we have to do a better job defining the GOP for what they are-right-wing extremists who, like the Taliban, seek to impose their version of morality on the rest of the populace even though that populace does not agree with it. See the  4th Cong. Dist. for 1 example.

Also, we need to do a better job protecting the middle class, which includes protecting public education at all levels. Too many people in both Tenn. and Ark. do not value education. Instead, the place more value on hunting/fishing and athletics. But it is education that truly prepares one for a productive life and every college-educated person in the state is a block to build up the middle class. Less than 25% in Ark. have college degrees or better. The Dems. are complicit if they support vouchers in any form because they, for the most part, subsidize white kids already going to private schools. Our public education system was the envy of the world at one point, but not now. Yes, we need to improve some of the ways schools operate and some of the results. However, that does not include vouchers. It should include paying teachers more and recognizing/rewarding the importance of their jobs. It also includes reducing poverty because even the best teacher
cannot do the job without significant help from the parents and if the family is in poverty, that help isn't forthcoming. We also need to stop demonizing the teacher's unions; however, this isn't likely to change in the near future. The long-range demographic trend is for urban areas to expand and rural areas to decline. But, its like one of the other posts you sent out today: trying to stop a cultural tide with a picket fence.
One other thought: Education is the best economic development tool there is because business wants an educated workforce and the more educated the populace, the more likely business is to locate in an area. Getting back to the rural areas, part of the problem is the lack of communications infrastructure meaning high speed internet access at reasonable cost. This would address Trace's concern about rural folks only reading the local papers and would allow them to read papers from all over, assuming no pay walls. However, some big media, like ATT don't want to invest because of the cost and lack of density make it hard to be profitable on such services.  

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