The close senatorial race in my adopted state of Tennessee between Congresswoman Marsha Blackburn and former TN governor Phil Bredesen reveals much about the current condition of American politics and will have results of great significance to the entire country.
Bredesen, a Democrat, is presenting himself to the electorate of this mostly red state as a pragmatist willing to “call ’em as he sees ’em.” One early commercial has the candidate looking earnestly into camera while assuring us he will vote with Trump when he thinks the president is right — North Korea, in this ad — but against him when he thinks he’s wrong – tariffs.
Bredesen, a successful businessman, surely understands Trump is using tariffs as a negotiating ploy to improve our balance of payments when other methods, if there actually were any, have failed miserably. But let’s leave aside conventional political hypocrisy and skip to the important question.
In 2018 America, where the idea of a Blue Dog Democrat seems like a fantasy from a universe far far away, is it even possible for a Democratic senator, assuming he wants to, to “call ’em as he sees ’em.” Or is the Democratic Party already too Bolshevik to tolerate the slightest apostasy? Has partisanship reached that level?
Do bears defecate in Tennessee’s Smoky Mountains?
In 1993, the Senate confirmed Ruth Bader Ginsburg for the Supreme Court 96-3. Today’s Democrats treat confirming Brett Kavanaugh, a candidate with a record at least equal to Ginsburg’s at that time, as if voting for him were tantamount to spreading Bubonic Plague in a children’s hospital. A couple of Democrats — desperate to save their seats — might, at the last minute, vote for Kavanaugh, assuming they were given “cover” by a unanimous Republican vote.
Is Bredesen the kind of man who would do the right thing in that instance or in the case of a future SCOTUS nominee? Is he the kind of man who, even with his business background, would dare buck Schumer & Co. when it comes to taxes or other matters of economic importance? Would he seriously undermine party loyalty to vote in favor of something like a border wall — even though that wall was favored by a majority of Democrats before Trump came along and advocated for it?
That, in the proverbial nutshell, is the nature of today’s Democratic Party politics. Its anthem should be Groucho Marx’s famous song in Horse Feathers — “Whatever It Is I’m Against It” — only now you can replace “It” with “Trump.”
Would Bredesen avoid joining that chorus when the rest of his caucus are singing that tune in unison? Is there anything to really show he would be brave enough to counter the power of group think or even would want to in the end?
Whether Bredesen is lying to himself or to the public or both doesn’t matter. The results are and will be the same. What we are seeing here is a “centrism” masquerade for electoral purposes the likes of which we are going to be seeing all over the country in red or purple districts.
Bredesen and others like him may or may not realize the level of pressure that will be put on them to conform were they to win. It will be severe and very, dare I say it, Russian. (Or — in the case of Dianne Feinstein — Chinese.)
Which brings me to Marsha Blackburn. She is the opposite of Bredesen in that she lets her biases hang out without obfuscation. She is quite out front in her allegiance to the president and his program. Indeed, she was one of the first in Congress to back Trump publicly before he essentially took over the Republican Party.
You know what you’re getting with Marsha and if you favor lower taxes and full employment you should like it. (It sounds so simple, you wonder why we are having an election, but we are. That’s how great the level of disinformation is. )
And of course in the Senate, all politics is not just local, but national and international as well. The retiring Republican Tennessee senator played an unfortunate role in smoothing the way for the Iran Deal. His intentions may have been good but the results were horrendous. That deal — whose real contents, and whether it was even signed, are still unknown (thankfully we have now pulled out) — financed mass murder all over the Middle East and exacerbated the massive refugee crisis destroying the identity and values of Europe. It even, via Hezbollah, drastically affected many American lives from across our Southern border. (If you’re not familiar with that last point, please click on the link.)
It’s hard to imagine Phil Bredesen, a Democrat, having stood up against this Obama-era atrocity — that’s not too strong a word — or standing up to something similar around the corner. It’s also hard to imagine a true conservative like Marsha Blackburn ever countenancing anything remotely like it.
For that reason alone (although there are many others) Marsha’s election to the Senate is of paramount importance for 2018.
Roger L. Simon – co-founder and CEO Emeritus of PJ Media – is an author and an Academy Award-nominated screenwriter.