To understand the vote, you have to remember the historyJoe Powell is among those who are just torn to pieces by the recent vote by Congressman David Davis against a bill that tightened federal regulations on dogfighting. I understand that the disgusting and disgraceful actions of Michael Vick have brought the cruelties involved in dogfighting to light for many people. I fear that Powell is forgetting his history, as we tend to do in modern culture. I don't think David Davis is in favor of cruelty to animals, but he is opposed to more federal interference into our business here in East Tennessee.
I haven't seen eye-to-eye with Congressman Davis on everything, and when we have disagreed on something, I have been careful to let that be known. In meeting Congressman Davis on a couple of occasions however, I have come believe he has a keen sense of the history of federal abuse of power here (again and again and again), and is not excited about giving the federal government yet another opportunity to screw the people of East Tennessee over.
Congressman Davis understands that the federal government has not always been a friend to the people of East Tennessee, and they have used federal regulations and laws in a way not to punish those who truly endanger society, but to go after those who do little harm to their neighbor.
Those who know a little something about American history know that during the Late Unpleasantness Union sympathy ran very high in East Tennessee. East Tennesseans were repaid for their loyalty by seeing federal soldiers turn Knoxville's Market Square into a massive powder and ammunition dump right in the middle of town. It was by the grace of God that the city did not burn to the ground, and the federals refused to remove the gunpowder from a public marketplace despite repeated pleas for them to do so. East Tennessee's native son Andrew Johnson was impeached (but not convicted) by radicals.
What really brought East Tennessee into the Republican camp permanently-perhaps more than any other thing-were the actions of the federal government in the formation of the Tennessee Valley Authority and the confiscations of many homes and farms in the name of bringing electric power to this valley. The TVA did dam up the Holston, the French Broad, and the Tennessee Rivers, and did bring electricity here-but did so in a less-than-honest way. After using eminent domain to seize many family properties, telling people that their homes were to be flooded by the newly-formed lakes, TVA held on to properties that did not flood at all. Rather than return the properties to their original owners or their heirs, TVA also kept these lands and began to sell them off (a process that continues to this very day). It did not endear many East Tennesseans to the federal government, and certainly not to the Democratic Party which many deemed responsible as the party of government at the time. Mike Faulk and I have discussed this, and we agree that while the old residual war vote may have been a factor in the early 20th Century, the TVA land grab did more than any other thing in the last 100 years to insure Republican political dominance in East Tennessee.
From the days of prohibition well into the 60's (and beyond), the federals came hither to apprehend the makers of the good ole mountain dew and to try and cut off supply of the happy juice. One thing that must be understood about this time period is that Sevierville and Pigeon Forge were not exactly tourist meccas in those days, and Gatlinburg was just beginning to be known as something of a resort town. The landscape was different. Running moonshine was a risky but effective way to make enough money to feed your family, pay the note on your land, and get ahead in life. It was not the least bit uncommon for local authorities to turn a blind eye when they knew that someone was making shine-especially since, in the eyes of many, these folks weren't interfering with their neighbors. The federals came because (God forbid) the moonshiners were selling cheap whiskey and the federals weren't getting any of that money. For the most part, the feds succeeded in stamping out the practice, but they tended to go after the small farmer who made a little whiskey on the side-it made a lot of people feel that the feds were simply out to get them.
Some people still use their homemade stills around here, however. The feds got Marvin "Popcorn" Sutton after a fire in his barn. What was the local reaction here? Well, I can't judge whether it was universal or not, but the fellas down at the drugstore here in White Pine thought the whole thing was a shame. "What harm did he do them," asked one. "They ought to just leave ol' Popcorn alone," said another. That was just the tip of the iceberg. It wasn't a popular arrest at the Sanitary.
That is generally what folks around here want-to be left alone. If I do you no harm, then leave me be. It is an especially widespead opinion here that the federal government has little or no business in our local affairs. Knowing that, it should come as absolutely no surprise that the Congressman for the Fighting First would vote against another regulation that would bring the federal government here yet again.
I think what Michael Vick did was horrible, and I say that as an animal lover who owns a dog, a rooster, chickens, and raises rabbits. If found guilty, the man should be punished severely. It ought to be the Commonwealth of Virginia taking the lead, however. It is up to local jurisdictions to decide how to punish this kind of thing-animal cruelty is not a Constitutional matter.