Chuck Fleischmann and Mary Headrick made it crystal clear in their debate Monday night that the people of the 3rd District can't stand another two years of Fleischmann's "tirelessly" working to deliver the nothing we've gotten - unless you count a Grover Norquist "no-tax" promise as a sign of work.
Fleischmann says he got the stalled Chickamauga Lock funding fixed, but he didn't. The new lock's completion is still unfunded and stalled, and Fleischmann still won't completely commit to support a barge fuel tax disguised as a user fee that barge owners have requested as a way to get construction started again.
Similarly he opposes Sen. Bob Corker's proposal to use an increased gas tax to fund the nearly broke highway infrastructure fund. Why? Because the many new electric cars won't pay that tax. Where does this guy drive?
He says the federal government has no place setting standards for education to ensure children all over the nation are learning at the appropriate rate. And he's so out of touch that he thinks minimum wage is meant to be an entry level wage and if it's raised it will endanger teen jobs.
He wants abortion outlawed everywhere. Period. And the Affordable Health Care Act -- the one that's helped at least 10 million people finally get health insurance -- is "a disaster." His only alternative solution? "Insurance companies and physicians should come together" and develop a system that would "allow the free market to work." Wait -- isn't that what got millions uninsured in the first place?
To each of Fleischmann's rote, simplistic and out-of-touch comments in Monday night's debate, Democratic challenger Mary Headrick offered common sense and reasoned counterpoints.
She made clear that she has not signed anything with Grover Norquist that says she won't approve taxes to support things the American public uses jointly. She noted she was "stunned" to hear his comment about gas taxes not being a viable highway infrastructure resource because of electric cars. "We have years more of gas cars," she said.
And she's right. In 2013, 96,000 plug-in electric cars sold in the U.S., representing a bit more than half of 1 percent of the total market of 16.5 million vehicles, according to Green Car Reports. That leaves plenty of gas tax pennies.
Headrick's answer on abortion? "I trust women. They are very careful in this very serious and sad decision when they have to make it," said the 30-year physician. "I trust women."
And what about ISIS? Fleischmann first slammed our president for delaying action, then said he agreed with Barack Obama's eventual decision to support moderate Sunni forces in Iraq and to begin air strikes against ISIS.
Headrick said we do need to fight ISIS, but how is still murky: "Right now, we cannot define our enemy, nor can we define our reliable long-term ally."
Certainly on Monday, Fleischmann was "kinder, gentler," and not on attack mode as he had been in a July debate with a GOP primary challenger. In Monday's debate, he was not at all that angry Congressman who bowed up his back at Weston Wamp and spit out accusations that Wamp was -- God forbid -- talking to Democrats.
Apparently, after a full-page newspaper ad signed by prominent Republicans and independents decried his deceitful television and flyer ads and his complete inability to talk about the aspect of governing that requires conversation and compromise rather than absolute partisan gridlock and obstructionism, Fleischmann wants voters to believe that in that earlier debate Chuck was a victim of his then-political consultant Chip Saltsman.
Immediately after the primary, Fleischmann parted with Saltsman.
Here's the thing -- and we say this for moderate Republicans and independent voters out there who, like us, just want to see the best person elected, regardless of party: Fleischmann is not that best person. He is a one-trick pony. Tea party. Anti-government.
But, folks, we are government.
We are roads. We are education. We are health care. We are defense.
And we need to elect Mary Headrick to this seat.