On Democratic Purity 

As the eagerly attentive denizens of the planet's seven continents surely know by now, the Shelby County Democrats were able Monday night to enforce a ban against Republican officeholders at their annual Kennedy Day Dinner. There were, both literally and figuratively, no elephants in the room.

There were, however, some conspicuous elephants outside the room, and Governor Phil Bredesen, titular head of Tennessee Democrats,

alluded to them in an aside to his keynote address. These were the disabled Tennesseans and their sympathizers who picketed the event from positions on the Central Avenue sidewalk outside the Holiday Inn where the dinner took place. In his speech, Bredesen gave these protesters against his TennCare cuts backhanded praise for exercising their constitutionally protected freedom of speech, just as -- or so he informed his Democratic audience -- he had given them a few minutes of his time before entering the hotel.

The governor's solicitude for the demonstrators was given appropriate applause. But Bredesen might have merited greater praise had he dealt with the TennCare issue in some other way than by repeating his well-worn mantra that, to maintain the state's solvency, he had no other choice than to make the draconian series of cuts that left many of the seriously disabled protesters uninsurable.

We seem to recall that state senators Steve Cohen and Rosalind Kurita, both Democrats, had proposed increasing the state cigarette tax so that the resulting revenue might have seriously mitigated the scope of the TennCare reductions. The governor, up for reelection this year and an economy-minded administrator under any circumstances, chose not to support such a measure. More crucially, perhaps, Bredesen took an adamant stand against new taxes of any kind -- especially that bugaboo of the state's recent past, an income tax -- and boasted of Tennessee as a "low-tax state."

It's true that Tennessee's rate of per-capita taxation is phenomenally low compared to the national average and to that of the great majority of states. The corollary is that Tennessee is a low-services state as well, and that's nothing much to brag about.

It should be noted that Bredesen spent much of his speech insisting that his fellow state Democrats marshal their energies this year toward the goal of electing 9th Distict congressman Harold Ford Jr. to the U.S. Senate -- the same Harold Ford Jr. who just voted, against the Democratic majority in Congress and along with House Republicans, to make permanent President Bush's giveaway tax cuts for the wealthy.

It is all well and good for the Democratic Party to safeguard the sanctity of its guest list on formal party occasions. We just wish the party -- and its spokespersons -- would be just as resolute in upholding Democratic traditions and policies that, once upon a time, benefited the most needy and deserving in our midst.


Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment



News Blog

Tennessee Breaks Record for Student Aid Requests

News Blog

MLGW's Water Test Comes Back Clean

Fly On The Wall Blog

RDC Announces Plan to Raise Atlantis

News Blog

New Vision Unveiled for Riverfront

News Blog

Memphis Pets of the Week (July 20-26)

Music Blog

The Secret Service rides again

We Saw You

Beauty Shop birthday, Sache Sunday, HEELS, Park + Cherry

Fly On The Wall Blog

Memphis Billboard Contains Porn


More by Flyer Staff

Readers also liked…

  • Dear Chuck Brady ...

    • Jul 7, 2016
  • Remembering Irvin Salky: One of a Kind

    • May 18, 2017
  • Common Sense Pot Policy

    Unlike Bill Clinton, I've inhaled. So have 49 percent of all Americans, according to a recent National Survey on Drug Use and Health. Marijuana (medical or otherwise) has been decriminalized or legalized in 23 states, and measures are on the ballot to legalize it in five more states this November, including Arizona, Nevada, Massachusetts, Maine, and California (where medical pot is already legal). A recent Gallup poll found that 53 percent of Americans think pot should be legalized and regulated like alcohol ...
    • Aug 25, 2016
© 1996-2017

Contemporary Media
460 Tennessee Street, 2nd Floor | Memphis, TN 38103
Visit our other sites: Memphis Magazine | Memphis Parent | Inside Memphis Business
Powered by Foundation