Fleischmann's wake-up call
A New York Times writer once quoted author Hunter S. Thompson saying Hubert Humphrey campaigned like "a rat in heat."
Thompson never met Republican U.S. Rep. Chuck Fleischmann, who may have squeaked out another two-year term Thursday with frenzied and negative campaigning so disgusting that main-stream local Republicans decried it with their own full page newspaper ad this week.
But voters here have met Fleischmann. And even in this very politically red district, they roared a message to the incumbent: We don't like to be trifled with. We don't like negativity. We don't like do-nothing congressmen. In Hamilton County, where challenger Weston Wamp was within 84 votes of a win (according to unofficial vote totals) the message was more like: Take your anti-government tea party ball and go home.
Fleischmann did more than simply disrespect us by trying to mislead voters with baseless, negative campaign ads that falsely pasted the head of his challenger onto a photo of someone else lighting a passport on fire alongside a quote about immigration amnesty taken out of context. Fleischmann's real dishonestly has been that he betrayed his oath to serve the people who elected him.
Instead of working with all the other representatives and senators who took similar oaths to fix the cracks in our democracy, he joined the anti-govern club. He became part of the obstructionist block that brought us the sequester and the broke highway fund and the still-stalled Chickamauga Lock.
It's one thing to feel that there are ways to save money in Washington, but it's another thing entirely to put a closed sign on it. Perhaps Chuck thinks his tea party no-tax oath is more important than his oath to us. Or perhaps his tea party blinders just give him a license to shirk the hard work of governing.
We can only hope that this vote gave him a wake-up call. And we can remind him: There's another election in just two short years.
Faith is about love, not sex
Chattanooga voters decided Thursday that we'll have to wait for the courts to tell us that the definition of marriage has evolved.
The City Council already had approved on a 5-4 vote the Chattanooga Domestic Partnership ordinance, but the tea party-leaning Citizens for Government Accountability and Transparency launched a petition drive to force a citywide vote. That's why the question was on our Thursday ballot. The ordinance would extend health and other benefits to domestic partners of city workers, something that will make the city more competitive and simply be more fair for same-sex and committed long-term partners.
Now Chattanooga will be behind what other cities, counties, states, some private businesses and the U.S. Treasury Department and Internal Revenue Service are moving toward: a policy giving same-sex and live-in couples the same tax treatment and benefits as other married couples - in keeping with the recent U.S. Supreme Court's ruling to overturn the Defense of Marriage Act.
The petition and the vote simply delay the inevitable. Any day now, Tennessee's 7-year-old constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage is likely to fall - along with 30 others one-by-one as the Supreme Court reviews them.
A Hamilton County wish list
The state's fourth largest county has two new school board members and two new county commissioners and a slate of re-elected ones.
When the candidates interviewed with the Times Free Press editors to seek our endorsements, almost every one of them said they believe our children need better education resources and our county needs a vocational school.
Over and over, candidates said to us: College is not for everyone, and the county's single-track college-bound curriculum fails too many children who graduate high school unprepared for available and decent-paying jobs.
We believe that, too. And we know many of you believe it, because these candidates told us they heard it from voters, parents and employers.
Let's hold to the fire the feet of all these elected and re-elected school board and county commission members.