You Are My Sunshine
As it happens to be the political season, we should all take a break with Louisiana's late singing Governor, Jimmie Davis
Eldridge's lawyer has a point when he says that this entire affair could raise equal protection questions. Eldridge took the oath of loyalty, so there is no good legal reason to deny her a Republican ballot. The potential court case that might arise out of what I'll call the Eldridge Affair raises some very legitimate questions about Tennessee's primary voting laws and rules because those laws are incredibly inconsistent. It is extremely easy for a person to cross from one party to the other and go unchallenged, so much so that it happens all the time because we have no party registration in Tennessee. Yet our rules for that so-called "open primary" are written in such a way that the uninformed observer would think that our primaries are closed. The ability to challenge crossover voters in a way that could deny them the ability to vote in a primary is a hallmark of a closed primary system-although even in a closed system, there is always an easy means to switch parties should the voter choose.
The reality is that until we close primaries in Tennessee, we’ll have people crossing over depending on what county they may be in and that area's history of domination in local offices by one party or the other. I’ve had Republicans in West Tennessee admit to me that they have voted in Democratic primaries when they felt that doing so was their only voice in who was elected. I know that Democrats here in Jefferson County do this because people in my community have admitted to me that they vote in the Republican Primary even though they personally consider themselves Democrats because the candidate they know can get elected (and that they often support) is running as a Republican.
Either we need to require party registration (which I strongly favor), or-if the Legislature doesn’t take that step-the “loyalty” provisions of the law need to be removed. We can’t have an election law regarding primaries that literally says two different things, and party leadership that encourages crossover voting (as Tennessee Republican Chairman Chris Devaney did in his quote on the whole affair) while they know that candidates can still legally question those votes.
I personally despise crossover voting. I have never in my life voted in a Democratic Primary, because I am not a Democrat and I do not believe that it is my place to try and sabotage the nominating processes of a political party by voting in their primary when I do not support that party-I believe that to do so is ethically and morally wrong.
Those who are concerned about the long-term debt that will now be incurred by the county do have a point, however. It is all well and fine to say, as many citizens have done, that they favor the bond issue and the tax increases that will inevitably result because new school construction and old school renovation are urgent needs in our county education system (and those who say this are absolutely right). Statistics indicate that Jefferson County's population is aging, though, and that in 20 years there will be even more people in the county on fixed incomes. Further, many younger families will struggle since property taxes and insurance are often tied to mortgages, and the increased cost could discourage home and property ownership in the future.
The only way to give our students and teachers those resources in the future is to either raise local taxes in perpetuity (something that is both undesirable and impractical, as well as tyrannical), or actively work together to encourage the planned and responsible development that we need to bring more tax-paying businesses and citizens to Jefferson County. The latter is by far the more preferable option.