by Mel Griffith
As a new administration starts in Washington, predictions are that most progress will be stalled by bickering between political parties. Each seems to feel obligated to oppose anything supported by the other party. A number of candidates for chairman of the Democratic National Committee seem to be basing their campaigns on claims that they would be best at obstructing anything the Republicans want to do, rather than an ability to reach compromises and get things done.
Perhaps the politicians in Washington would do well to observe Tennessee government. Here a Democrat governor is cutting the budget instead of promoting a tax increase. The Republican state Senate just elected a Democrat as Lieutenant Governor. Lt. Gov. Wilder deserved Republican votes because of the bipartisan way he has run the state Senate for many years. It is unfortunate that a majority of Republican senators wanted to play politics Washington style and replace him with a Republican. However, wiser heads among them recognized that replacing the cooperation that has existed in the state Senate for years with partisan fighting was not in the best interests of the state or, for that matter, the Republican party either. Abusing their new-found power would be the best way to lose it in the next election.
Governor Bredesen, who won a fairly narrow victory two years ago, now has about 70% approval rating. Since at least half of Tennessee are Republicans, that means that a lot of them approve of the job he is doing. If he can resist the temptation that befell some previous governors to support a state income tax it is likely that he will be easily reelected. Perhaps some of the limousine liberals who think that the main things the average person wants are gay marriage, gun control and higher taxes ought to come to Nashville and observe, although spending time in Tennessee didn't seem to do much for Al Gore.
Tennessee has one of the lowest overall tax takes in the nation, though some individual taxes are high. This means that we have one of the most efficient state governments in the nation. We are also fortunate to live in a county that is efficiently run. Much of this good government is due to the interest that our citizens take in our government. As a new session of congress and of the state legislature starts we will do well to keep a close eye on them. There are always plenty of special interests working to get government to help them take advantage of the general public.