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Tennessee Senate Race May Be Most Crucial of 2018

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 minutevote 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?