Politics is like the weather. It changes slowly and runs in cycles. When rough weather persists too long, we complain. And whether or not it is "rough weather" depends on your personal political philosophy.
Right now, for Democrats it is rough weather. But Democrats need to remember how many years it was rough weather for Republicans.
Take our local congressional seat. How many years, in days of yore, was J.B. Frazier our representative? Then came Democrat Marilyn Lloyd. Republicans Lamar Baker and Bill Brock had some terms in there, but they were moderates who would be unacceptable to today's Tea Party and among the neocons of the Republican party. They were the Roy Roberts kind of Republicans. My father was a balance-the-budget man. He ceased to call himself a Republican when Reagan and Bush unbalanced the budget with their tax breaks for the wealthy.
When I was elected as a Democrat in 1978, nine Democratic commissioners were elected with me. The only Republican was Claude Ramsey, our current county mayor. Democrats need to remember that as late as the 1980s they were clearly the majority party and held most courthouse offices here.
To demonstrate that there was little difference in the philosophies of the local Democratic and Republican parties, let it be revealed here for the first time that I considered making the race for county executive as a Republican. My reason was that the Democratic county judge had fired me and no major Democratic official had come to my aid. I couldn't find a job and had two children starting college. I am glad I didn't run as a Republican because I would be uncomfortable today with the Tea Party and the national leadership of the neocons in the Republican party. I am more in tune with the Sam Nunn/Richard Russell/Estes Kefauver kind of politics.
Groups and individuals screaming about cutting taxes blip across the political screen on a regular basis because it is always popular to use that kind of rhetoric. Note how our new congressmen are now doing an Indian rain dance after running against earmarks. They find that the Chickamauga Dam project and research funds for Oak Ridge and Tullahoma depend on such funding.
You can always find cases of stupid and even silly government expenditures, but most people who are elected find that most governmental costs are needed or imperative. And the grand old institution of congressional politics does not yield itself to quick change. Like the county commission's little pots for district projects, earmarks have always been a part of congressional operation, and it is not going to change much now or ever.
The important thing for all of us is to stick with some basic tenets of good government like balancing the budget, protecting our borders, rebuilding our infrastructure and restoring our economy, which has been ripped out and shipped all over the world. Losing so much of our manufacturing base is the worst mistake of the last half century. Let the Tea Party sink their teeth into that if they want to make a difference.
Like Ross Perot, who had a lot of good, solid ideas about improving government, the Tea Party will be around a little while, but it will do nothing but impact an election here and there unless it addresses the real problems of the nation.
E-mail Dalton Roberts at DownhomeP@aol.com.