The entitlement mentalitySean Braisted wrote a post the other day about his disagreement with some controversial statements that Tennessee Republican Chairman Robin Smith made about the nature of the war in Iraq. My concern is not so much over what Sean said about Chairman Smith's comments about the war, but a one-liner that seems to indicate that the ever-idealistic Braisted is falling into the trap that the Tennessee Democratic Party has laid for itself of thinking that it is forever entitled to majority status:
Now, nobody of course really cares all that much about what the Chair of the TNGOP thinks or says...the group itself struggles with it's irrelevancy on the State level.
Irrelevancy? Braisted would have us believe that a party that did not lose a single seat in the General Assembly in a year when dissatisfaction with Republicans was extremely high, a party that managed to buck the national trend of a large Democratic majority by sending a Republican Senator to Washington, and a Party that has given Tennessee its first Republican Lieutenant Governor since Reconstruction is irrelevant? By that logic, Democrats must be a non-entity in Tennessee-they couldn't carry Tennessee for her own favorite son for President in 2000 (who won every county in the State ten years prior in his Senate re-election), they couldn't win the 2006 Senate election with the most electable candidate they could have fielded amid widespread dissatisfaction with the Republican nominee, and when the General Assembly is in session many of their members vote with Republicans on key legislation.
The truth, of course, is that neither party organization in Tennessee is irrelevant. Political parity in this State is an increasing reality, as Republican influence makes its way into the former Democratic bastions of Middle and West Tennessee. The Democratic base (both traditional and modern) should not be taken for granted by the Democrats or written off by the GOP (and vice-versa).
The notion that Republicans are irrelevant is a widespread one among Democrats in Nashville. This same mentality also leads to a sense that they are entitled to perpetual majorities and eternal control. The GOP is but five seats shy of control in the Tennessee House (I am counting Chris Crider's traditionally Democratic West Tennessee seat, since Crider has announced he will leave the House after 2008 whether he is elected Mayor of Milan or not), and what will bring them to control is a continued sense of entitlement to their positions on the part of the Democrats. This way of thinking is one that the Republicans developed at the federal level, and we see where it got them last year.
The sense of being able to deal with anything and survive anything that results from assuming that your opposition is irrelevant and that you can get whatever you want is part of the reason that the majority of people who got nailed in Tennessee Waltz were Democrats. The notion of invincibility that results from seeing your opposition as irrelevant is part of the reason that John Ford is spending an extended period of time as a guest at the Graybar Hilton.
It should never be assumed that the other political party is irrelevant, for when you make that assumption, you unintentionally begin the long, slow process of writing your own political obituary. I am surprised and disappointed that Sean Braisted would begin to fall into that trap. As much as I disagree with Sean's politics, I think him to be a politically savvy and gifted young man. I would have thought that he would know better.
Labels: Tennessee politics