published Monday, September 24th, 2012

Robin Smith: Choices

By Robin Smith

As one who enjoys reading, I have too many "favorites." But an all-time favorite read is "The Traveler's Gift" by Andy Andrews. It's a historical fiction that travels through time encountering some of history's notables: Abraham Lincoln, Solomon, Harry Truman and Anne Frank, to name a few.

In one chapter, a vivid word picture is painted describing the fear, danger and determination felt by the Frank family while hiding during the ravages against the Jewish people in World War II. Anne Frank dialogues with the book's main character about her dire circumstances and contrasting resilience.

"Our very lives are fashioned by choice. ... First we make choices. Then our choices make us," the young lady remarks of her family's determination enduring two years of atrocities in the Holocaust.

What choices have we made as a society in the last decades?

Collectively, we've come to choose a culture that celebrates personal gratification, elevates a pop culture of extravagant extremes and over-sexualized relationships, and applauds success as defined, not by achievement, but by fame and notoriety. In the name of tolerance and political correctness, we've come to choose "whatever" over that which is good and decent. We've chosen a nanny-state government that intimidates and rejects the faith community that serves as the hand of love in benevolence and charity, not simply a handout.

So, what have our choices made for us?

In Tennessee, the birth rate to unmarried mothers was 44.1 percent. Four of 10 babies were born without the benefit of a dad -- ranking 12th worst in the nation, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in 2010.

In a study published by the Heritage Foundation in 2010 using U.S. census data, "the poverty rate for single parents with children in the United States in 2008 was 36.5 percent. The rate for married couples with children was 6.4 percent. Being raised in a married family reduced a child's probability of living in poverty by about 80 percent."

The suicide rate in 2009 for Tennessee was the 13th highest in America, with 14.6 percent of deaths self-inflicted. The CDC found that "intentional self-harm" was the No. 10 cause of death nationally. The National Institutes of Health notes that for every suicide death, there's "an estimated 11 attempts" that are unsuccessful.

Despite the focus on "personal rights" and self-esteem, suicide attempts, as referenced by the NIH, are "not harmless bids for attention" and are "not normal responses to stress." Instead, according to the American Psychological Association, two key factors exist in those who inflict personal harm: "A perceived burdensomeness" and a "low sense of belonging." Both of these circumstances are rooted in one's family and social circle.

The CDC records "poisoning" as "the leading cause of death from injuries in the U.S." Of these deaths, 90 percent are caused by drug overdose. The National Institute of Drug Abuse states that "in 2010, an estimated 22.6 million Americans, or 8.9 percent, of the population had used an illicit drug or abused a psychotherapeutic medication (such as a pain reliever, stimulant, or tranquilizer) in the past month." Self-medicating to escape problems is destructive.

These few statistics connect the dots that expose a trail of cultural decline that impacts the health of our families, neighborhoods, workforce and economy.

Let's be honest. More than government programs, we need an individual commitment to work hard, be honest in all of our dealings, keep promises to our families, care about the needs of others through our places of worship ... you get the idea. It's our choice; then our choices make us ... and our family, our community, our nation.

Robin Smith, a consultant at Rivers Edge Alliance, is a wife and mother living in Hixson. She served as the Tennessee Republican Party chairman from 2007-2009.

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Rickaroo said...

"Let's be honest. More than government programs, we need an individual commitment to work hard, be honest in all of our dealings, keep promises to our families, care about the needs of others through our places of worship ... you get the idea. It's our choice; then our choices make us ... and our family, our community, our nation."

Yes, let's be's so easy to say what you said, Robin Smith. But that is all that you conservatives can offer on the subject - empty rhetoric. You like to use the term "nanny state" as a hyperbolic representation of a government that sees not only the compassion but the practicality of providing safety nets. But you counter with nothing but the high-fallutin' sound of your warm and fuzzy, Ozzie-and-Harriet, church-centric, flag-waving Norman Rockwell painting of America that you think we all just somehow need to make the "choice" to live in.

You can't just utter words of how you think things ought to be and then call that a plan or a platform. Yet that is all the Republican platform amounts to: empty feel-good gibberish of individual freedom and self-reliance and no policies that actually address the problems of unemployment, crime, homelessness, poverty, high cost of education, lack of accessible, affordable health care for millions, etc. You act as though more trickle-down nonsense, more tax cuts, and more austerity are all we need to get America back on the "right" track and then everybody is simply going to start behaving in accordance with life as conservative Robin Smith sees it in her tidy little Norman Rockwell picture of America. Nonsense.

September 24, 2012 at 4:23 p.m.
Facts said...

Well, the GOP is likely to swell in its ranks based on Rickaroo's logic: honesty, integrity and a strong work ethic are obviously partisan. Just keep talking. The way I see it, the angry left that hates America and what made our nation great are causing tremendous damage.

September 24, 2012 at 5:50 p.m.
Rickaroo said...

The "angry left" is no more angry than the angry hateful right. And I beg your pardon, but I doubt that you right wing-nuts love our country any more than we libs do. Our country was never stronger and more prosperous than in the 50, 60s, and into the 70s, when we had sensible banking and business regulations, a much higher tax rate on the wealthy, with fewer loopholes, a growing economy and middle class, and the American Dream was realized by more working class people.

We libs are not intent on an all-socialist government, like you try to make everyone believe; we just want to try to restore a sensible blend of government and free market principles, like we used to have, before you angry, rabid, government-hating righties lost your friggin' minds.

September 24, 2012 at 6:09 p.m.
328Kwebsite said...

Let's be honest: Chattanooga Republicans have cut spending that supported rehab programs in this city. Chattanooga Republicans have cut spending that supported halfway houses for the mentally ill. Chattanooga Republicans attempted to cut spending that provided direct medical aid to handicapped children.

They did all of this under the disguise of "smaller government" by refusing to fund important social programs previously covered under the city/county tax agreement.

Now, Robin Smith, the Republican leader who organized and spoke at local Tea Party rallies, is here to tell us that we should be more caring toward those in need. Any time Robin Smith wants to stop the hypocrisy by leading her party into making decisions that support any of the causes she just editorialized for, we're standing by to see it happen.

We know how much Chattanooga Republicans care in these causes because we've seen them refuse to pay for each and every one of those listed above. Those weren't decisions made by some Karl Rove peon or distant marketing chickenhawk. Those were decisions made locally by local Republicans. And what did they do? Cut off funding for handicapped kids.

The correct choice is to throw those Chattanooga Republicans out of office as soon as elections allow.

September 24, 2012 at 9:32 p.m.
timbo said...

328KWebsite....Robin Smith did not "organize" the local Tea Party.

All conservative care about people in need, we just don't think you have to enable their bad behavior. We just want to help them in a different way. Just throwing government money at them is a cop out.

I guess that is the only way you un-creative liberals can figure out to fix problems. Same song, second verse.

September 25, 2012 at 3:29 p.m.
aae1049 said...

Beautifully written piece. Robin Smith is a rock star.

September 25, 2012 at 6:09 p.m.
timbo said...

aaee1049....."rockstar?".....I like Robin alright but she did mismanage her campaign for Congress to the point of losing to a nobody. Now we're stuck with Chuck. she also had a cornucopia of the same political hacks that have ruined the local Republican Party. She should've run from those people as fast as she could. It made her look like a Rinos. Her list of supporters made up my mind to vote for somebody else.

These people don't need to be canonized with excessive hero worship. Robin is a good person with a lot of ability and that is enough.

September 26, 2012 at 9:50 a.m.
aae1049 said...


How many 3/4 million campaigns have you run? I am willing to bet NOT ONE. See, that is the funny thing about political know it alls, they have never organized or managed large campaigns, or accomplished anything of substance.

There is no excessive hero worship. It was a compliment to someone I admire, not to you at all. Further, I don't take directions from anyone, so get over yourself Saltsman. Keep it up, and I may find files in my garage about you, and that booster seat for your guy is off the table. hehe

September 26, 2012 at 10:56 a.m.
Facts said...

Timbo, Voters voted for a self-financed liar. No mismanagement, just a liar. It sounds like you're the main reason we're stuck with a nobody.

October 21, 2012 at 9:33 p.m.
LaurynGraf said...

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November 29, 2013 at 8:17 p.m.
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