Tennessee editorial roundup
MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — Recent editorials from Tennessee newspapers:
Johnson City Press on civil democracy:
Bitter rancor dominating national politics grew into all-out verbal war, as Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation to the nation’s highest court cemented the divisions in Washington and more importantly the public.
Our federal politicians and political action committees are both mirroring and feeding those divisions at breakneck speed with neither side seemingly interested in civil discourse. No one can claim a higher road, including television networks that pump people into a frenzy and seemingly air any political ad regardless of veracity. Revenge politics are the norm of the day.
We cannot help but wonder when the discord will reach a precipice, boiling over into more dangerous conflict or finally giving the public the kick in the teeth it needs to demand civility.
Republican U.S. Rep. Phil Roe has reminded us on more than one occasion of last year’s sniper attack as the GOP caucus practiced for the annual Congressional Baseball Game for Charity, which left House Majority Whip Steve Scalise of Louisiana seriously wounded. We also remind you of the 2011 shooting of Roe’s Democratic colleague, Gabrielle Giffords, and the violence at the “Unite the Right” white nationalism rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, which resulted in the death of counter-protester Heather Heyer.
It would a tragedy to see this nation devolve into the clashes that marred the cultural changes in the 1960s.
That’s why it was so refreshing to see Tennessee’s two gubernatorial candidates engage in vigorous but respectful dialogue at the debate this newspaper sponsored with the Kingsport Times News, Eastman and Ballad Health.
Democratic nominee Karl Dean and his Republican opponent Bill Lee treated one another with the dignity the office of governor deserves and offered ideas toward solutions to Tennessee’s problems rather than mere partisan smack talk. They presented a lot of common ground, and where they differed, they did so without ugly hyperbole, character assassination or accusations. It was clear that each man brought his mind, not his emotions, to the stage.
If only the Dean-Lee model could play out on the national stage. Tennessee isn’t so lucky with our other major race this year, the increasingly acrimonious contest between former Democratic Gov. Phil Bredesen and Republican U.S. Rep. Marsha Blackburn for the U.S. Senate. That race is fueled, of course, by its implications in the balance of power in Washington.
The Pacer (University of Tennessee at Martin college newspaper) on drinking while driving:
In 2016, over 10,000 people were killed from incidents related to drinking and driving, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
We at The Pacer would like to remind you that you always have other options rather than driving while under the influence.
Friends are nearly always willing to come get you if they know what your alternative option is, and many groups even specify a designated driver for the evening if they are hosting an event.
The Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT) also reminds drivers regularly through signs and other media that buzzed driving is drunken driving, and it only takes a blood alcohol content level of 0.08 percent to classify as drunk.
In Tennessee, when you receive your license you are automatically agreeing that if you are pulled over for suspected drunken driving, you give your consent to be tested. Should a driver refuse to submit to a test, that driver would automatically lose his or her license.
Experts at TDOT and the CDC recommend that if you know you will be drinking, before you ever take your first sip, give your keys to a designated driver who will not be drinking.
If you cannot find a designated driver out of your group of friends, you should consider taking public transportation if that is an option, or calling an Uber or Lyft.
Johnson City Press on early voting:
Early voting has become as important to the democratic process as Election Day itself.
If the trend continues, early ballots likely will overtake those cast on Election Day in short order. In the most recent primary and local general election in Washington County, 8,612 people cast early votes compared to 10,508 at the precincts Aug. 2. That’s 45 percent of all votes cast.
As early voting begins, you can bet that lines will develop at polling places across Tennessee, given the high-stakes race between former Democratic Gov. Phil Bredesen and Republican U.S. Rep. Marsha Blackburn to fill the U.S. Senate seat vacated by Bob Corker, who chose not to seek a third term.
Voters on both sides of the aisle and independents know how important Tennessee’s Senate race is to the balance of power in Congress, and the race is our divisive national political climate in a nutshell. Tennessee is America right now.
Both sides are claiming energy stemming from President Donald Trump’s involvement in the contest in support of Blackburn, given the polarization surrounding the president, as well as the rancorous confirmation process for U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Brett Kavanaugh.
In Northeast Tennessee, the federal contest between incumbent Republican Phil Roe and his Democratic challenger Marty Olsen for Tennessee’s 1st District U.S. House of Representatives seat also will bring voters to the polls.
While the U.S. Senate is the big draw, remember several state and local offices also are at stake in this election. Tennessee will elect a new governor, either former Nashville Mayor Karl Dean, a Democrat, or Middle Tennessee businessman Bill Lee, a Republican. The state Legislature also has several contested races, including the two House seats in Washington County.
Locally, voters in various towns and cities will choose government councils and school board members. These races should not be on the back burner when you enter the polling place — the more local the office, the more important it is to your daily life.
Regardless of your motivations, do not allow the prospect of lines deter you from voting, either during the early voting period or on Nov. 6. All Tennessee voices are needed in this election.
Early voting runs today through Nov. 1. Check with you local election commission for locations and times.