The Peaceful Transfer of Power

Today is such a wonderful day! If you’ve read prior columns I’ve written, you know that I’m about as conservative as a Republican can be. But today is not at all about being a Republican. Today is far bigger than any political party can be.

Today, January 20, 2017, is Inauguration Day. For a political junkie, such as me, this is the equivalent to the football fan’s Super Bowl, and the baseball fan’s World Series. At my house, we will celebrate all day long. My son and I will stare at the TV much like football fans watch their teams. We’ll be out with friends tonight celebrating into the wee hours.

Of course, because I am a conservative Republican, and because my candidate won, I’m celebrating this day a little more than usual. You probably do the same when your team wins the World Series. But I hope you understand that I would celebrate this day regardless of who the winner of the election was. Today, every American was the winner, even if they don’t realize it.

Today, the peaceful transfer of power will take place in our nation’s capital. This is no small thing. To the contrary, this is a dream that people in other nation’s envy. Today in Washington DC, past presidents and their spouses, including Hilary Clinton, will be present to support the incoming administration. The men and women on the platform do not all align politically with the President-elect, but they do understand the process and importance of the inauguration.

Today, no one will be in fear of a rogue, and un-elected, general taking command of the government. There will be no hostile takeover of the White House. The incoming administration was elected in a free and fair process by the citizens of this nation. How many other nations in the world can celebrate those things? There are people around the world who have never witnessed the process of a free election, who’ve never had the opportunity to campaign for the candidate of their choice, who fear for their nation each time there is any conflict with their leaders. We don’t realize just how good we’ve got it as Americans.

Eight years ago, after drilling information regarding their government into their sweet heads, I wanted my students to see the Inauguration Day ceremony. Rather than meeting for class that day, we headed to one family’s home and watched the events together. It didn’t matter whether it was a Republican or Democrat. What mattered was that the American people had voted for a candidate and he was taking the oath of office to serve faithfully. Iraq, Iran, Cuba, China, North Korea, and Saudi Arabia, among others, should be so fortunate.

Inauguration Day is a beautiful thing. While you are watching the ceremony, regardless of your political affiliations, I encourage you to pause for a moment. Consider how different your life would be as a citizen of another nation. Would you get to elect your government? Could ruthless leaders be recalled? How would you be treated as a minority? Would a disagreement among leaders result in a civil war or great economic depression? If you think you’d be better off there, Delta is ready when you are. Good luck and Godspeed.

America is far from perfect. There are so many problems that it’s hard to determine how to start of list of them. Social issues, financial woes, leaders who lack integrity, and families that are broken into pieces only scratch the surface. Yet, those are problems that every other nation faces, too. But we’ve got one thing that many other nations do not – Inauguration Day – the peaceful transfer of power. Happy Inauguration Day, America!

 

~Temerity Dowell

 

PS –  As I write this, I’ve just learned that the newly elected leader of Gambia, a republic in West Africa, held their Inauguration Ceremony earlier today. The former president refused to attend and will not step down from his office due to election irregularities. United Airlines can take you there.

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One Hypothesis

This week, some of our nation’s Ivy League Universities placated their students in regards to their devastation over the election of Donald Trump to the presidency. Cornell held a “Cry-In” in which students were offered Play-doh, posters, markers, and hot cocoa. One professor at Yale University made the mid-term exam optional for students. Several universities cancelled classes altogether allowing students to take the day to grieve and mourn the loss.*

You’ve got to be kidding!

One wonders what these students will do when they actually grow up, get a job, have a family of their own, and an actual crisis hits? I’m certainly not wishing ill will on any one, but any reasonable adult realizes that crises do come along and we really have to handle them without asking the world around us to pause while we cry.

How did these students come to this way of thinking? Since my own sons are about this same age, I did some deductive reasoning (something we adults learned to do in elementary school) and came up with an interesting hypothesis. I believe it began when they were young children and played in the local community sports league.

When my children were young I always served as the Team Mother. It was my responsibility to plan the end-of-the-season team party. During the season it was obvious which children were more acclimated to the sport. My older son quickly advanced from the outfield and became a pitcher. Our younger son didn’t do so well and didn’t want to play after a couple of seasons. However, if you look on their respective dressers in their room, each of them has a trophy to represent each season they played.

I confess that I am like every other parent in the world. I want my children to be recognized for their accomplishments. Like most parents, I often think that my child is better than everyone else’s (Oh, come on, you do it, too!).

After a few years on the baseball field my sons decided they preferred competing in various 4-H activities, most often with beef cattle. There were many times that I thought their project was the best one. The judges and I rarely agreed on this, though. While my sons did receive a trophy for each baseball season, they rarely earned the awards they sought in 4-H. I’m incredibly thankful for this.

I always thought I was making each child on the team realize their worth by presenting them with a trophy. However, my sons show little regard for those trophies today (and some of them look really cool). Instead they are proud to show off the many ribbons, plaques, and pins they earned in 4-H. These prizes were not given, they were earned.

I can’t help but to compare that mindset of earning the reward to being given a prize. The “snowflakes” on college campuses who are crying and holding candlelight vigils over their loss in the presidential election have probably been given most everything they’ve ever had. I know there are exceptions to this, of course. But if my hypothesis is correct, the college parking lots are probably filled with cars purchased by daddy.

When I was growing up (go ahead and roll your eyes), I wasn’t given anything. I also wasn’t especially talented at anything. I worked very hard and earned every bit of what I got, including jobs, grades, degrees, and money. So did each of my family members.

Earlier this week on a social media outlet, I explained that when Barack Obama won in both 2008 and 2012, I was devastated. I could not believe that this nation would elect someone based on the color of his skin rather than the content of his character. On both occasions, though, I got up the next morning, made breakfast, and got my boys started on their school work. I was chastised for my comment and advised that my socioeconomic status was such that I was incapable of understanding what the problem is. Really?

Oh, believe me, I understand the problem.

When Obama was elected, I went through those days angry and disappointed at the outcome, as well as at some of the people who caused that outcome. I certainly prayed for our nation and our newly elected leaders. However, I never had to take a day off to mourn, cry, grieve, or make animal models with Play-doh.

The problem is that I’m willing to work harder than a snowflake. So I win the prize.

 

~Temerity Dowell

 

*http://www.foxnews.com/us/2016/11/10/canceled-classes-cry-in-and-more-college-campuses-reel-from-trump-win.html

Applied Civics 102

In perusing social media outlets for the past few days, I’ve noticed a trend in bashing Republican leadership, SEC members, and the Republican Party in general, due to the State Executive Committee meeting held in Nashville this past weekend. Let me offer some examples:

I believe you were very misleading in your post, too bad you have fallen victim to the establishment.

I don’t think you were truthful. There are too many people, as well as the media, reporting the opposite of your story. People were locked out, delegates were changed. I will not support the RNC anymore.

The GOP is getting as bad as the [Democrats], the very reason I predicted Trump would do well from the beginning! People are tired of not being represented! Or misrepresented!

TN is controlled by corrupt upper level establishment Republicans and we just can’t seem to root them out yet.

They did not have enough room for the public to go in and see what was happening. It was done intentionally because they knew many people were coming, but they did not want any bystanders.

At best this is a perceptional cluster and unethical behavior in the Tennessee GOP, and will hurt unifying us against democrats and Hillary.*

This is very disturbing. I know for a fact that some of the posts I’ve read are written by people who have never darkened the door of a political or governmental meeting in their life. Yet, suddenly, they have become experts on how delegates are elected, sunshine laws, the Republican Party by-laws, and what the “right thing to do” actually is.

Conversely, there are many who have been involved with the process for years and know far more about political procedure than I ever will. While I have appreciated their wisdom and activism, it’s unfortunate that many of them believed lies that were being spread by persons with a clear bias. Between these two groups, I have yet to decide which is worse.

In the last ten years, when I first became interested and started following political and governmental matters, I’ve learned many things. I’ve learned that there are always at least two sides to every single story, to every piece of legislation, and to every situation. Always! Sometimes there are even more than two sides. Before I cast judgment and form an opinion on anything, I always try to learn both sides of the story. I’m not always successful. I still have strong opinions on some issues and, frankly, don’t give a flip what the other side says. I do try, though.

Sadly, there are many people who did not bother to check both sides of the story before spreading untruths regarding the meeting last Saturday. They have not always looked into every side of the story, and there really are several different sides in this one. They are often completely unaware of the facts and have resorted to spreading their opinion as well as the opinions of others rather than factual information. Apparently, this was not restricted to Tennessee. Similar situations have been reported in other states.

Pause for a moment and ask yourself if you, or others you know, may have been guilty of spreading falsehoods, intentionally or not. Have you discussed the matter personally with your own, or another, SEC member (although their contact information was removed from the website earlier this week, it has been re-posted)?

I implore you to please get to the bottom of the matter. Do so quickly! We cannot afford to allow our party and our nation to fall at the hands of rumor and innuendo. Stop getting all of your information from Facebook, Twitter, and the evening news. Find out what really happened and spread the truth liberally!

 

~Temerity Dowell

 

*The quotes here were taken directly from various Facebook posts. I did not include names in order to protect the privacy of others. I only edited them for the sake of good grammar, spelling, and clarity.

 

Applied Civics 101

In the past 48 hours, much misinformation has been disseminated regarding elections, delegates, and the RNC National Convention. This, unfortunately, has spread far and wide by an ill-informed electorate who has bought into lies that have been perpetuated by others who have not bothered to do some simple research. The cycle continues each time a post on a social media outlet is shared or commented on by others who do not know the truth either. This article is an effort to end the lies, intentional or not, and to teach a little bit of civics to those who haven’t attended a government lesson in a long time.

Many of you may know that by last Friday evening, the Trump campaign sent an email to their base advising supporters to attend the State Executive Committee meeting held Saturday morning in Nashville. Dozens of Trump fans turned out in hopes of preventing the SEC for the state Republican Party from appointing a slate of delegates who would represent the Trump, Cruz, or Rubio campaigns at the national convention this summer. Just this information alone has proven to be very confusing.

First, many people do not know who the State Executive Committee for either political party is. Both the Republican Party and the Democrat Party in each state have this committee in some form. In Tennessee, the Republican (SEC) is made up of one man and one woman who represent each of the 33 state senate districts, making a committee which serves as a board of directors for the state party. You probably do not remember seeing their names on a ballot, but you elected these members in the fall of 2014. Their names were the last ones on the statewide ballot. You could select one man and one woman to serve as your representatives to the state party.

These sixty-six members (33 x 2 = 66) are unpaid. They are not reimbursed for any expenses they incur in the line of their duties, not even gas money (and some live in very large senate districts made up of several counties). Their duties include disseminating information from the state party to the local parties in their respective districts, working with local parties to increase their numbers, relaying any problems or requests from the local party to the state party, and finding good candidates to run for office. They are supposed to attend every Republican activity or meeting in their district that is possible.

These members are required to meet quarterly on dates pre-determined by the state party chairman whom they elected. These meetings are public and advertised. Any Republican is permitted to attend providing that space allows without violating any fire codes. The media is also allowed to attend. Rumors of closed door meetings are false.

Second, few people understand how delegates to the RNC are selected. Two overriding rules determine this in Tennessee. First, a presidential preference election is held and voters elect seventeen delegates. That consists of 14 delegates who run for a statewide position (usually people who have statewide name recognition), and three delegates who run in their congressional district. Because Tennessee has nine congressional districts, the voters across the state elect twenty-seven for those congressional districts and fourteen statewide positions. This is a total of forty-one.

Tennessee is allowed to send 58 total delegates to the convention. Since 41 are elected, that leaves 17 others. Three are the automatic appointments of the state party chairman, and the state national committeeman and committeewoman. These delegates are elected by the SEC members (These SEC members are suddenly becoming very important. I’m guessing you wish you had looked more closely at those names in 2014 before you voted for them.) The remaining fourteen delegates are then appointed by the SEC, this being the second of the two rules to determine the TN delegation to the convention.

It’s important to pause here and say that Tennessee GOP by-laws make this state a proportional one. Unless one candidate gets more than 80% of the total vote, he or she will not earn all of these fourteen delegates. Any candidate who receives more than 20% of the vote will earn an amount proportional to the votes they get. Some states are “winner-take-all.” Due to this year’s election, the Donald Trump was awarded a combined total of elected and appointed delegates of 33, Ted Cruz was allotted 16, and Marco Rubio earned 9 (33+16+9= 58)

Under the Tennessee GOP by-laws, those campaigns who receive more than 20% of the votes cast in the GOP presidential preference primary will receive a proportion of the remaining 14 delegates. The campaign leaders in the state will submit a list of potential delegates and alternates to the state party chairman that they would prefer to represent them at the RNC. The chairman and his staff will then work to determine the eligibility of each of those delegates. This is where the process gets very cumbersome and difficult.

For example, the campaigns will present those names of people who worked tirelessly for the candidate. Unfortunately, some of these people may not have a stellar voting record. If they do not meet the requirement of the state by-laws, they will not be eligible to serve as a delegate. After that, this process becomes brutal and often unfair, not simple. Some feel that when a campaign submits their choices, those should be honored. However, if a person whose name has been submitted has not always been a great supporter of the GOP, the state will not want them to be a delegate at their convention.

In the end, the state party chairman submits his final list to the SEC members for their approval, or not. If the SEC members do not approve of the appointees, the chairman and representatives of the campaigns will meet once again to develop a new list to submit to the SEC.

It’s also important to note that, at least in Tennessee, the entire slate of delegates must be given a single up or down vote. Unless they can jump through a multitude of unknown parliamentary procedural hoops, they cannot vote on the potential delegates individually. This is why there will be some appointed delegates that one side or the other will not like. You simply cannot make all the people happy all the time.

By the way, none of this information was taught in your high school government or civics class. Those classes are designed to teach about our levels and divisions of government and how they work, not partisan politics. If you wish to be part of the politics that creates the government, you need to do your own homework. Most people believe it is enough to show up and vote on Election Day and then whine or scream when something doesn’t go their way. If you want to participate in the process, then educate yourself.

 

~Temerity Dowell