By Joe Rector

I don’t know about any other Tennesseans, but I, for one, feel so much safer knowing that our state officials are taking care of us. If you don’t believe they are, just check out State Senator Frank Niceley’s “fatherly” leadership.

Niceley’s proposal would remove the arduous task of choosing Democratic and Republican candidates for the U.S. Senate from you and me and place the task in much more capable hands, caucuses in the state legislature. Oh, you didn’t realize that this was such a terrible burden? Well, Niceley seems to think that we aren’t up to the challenge. A poll showed that 93% of those asked opposed the bill, but our senator said that 92% of us didn’t know that until early in the 1900’s that’s the way things were done.

This poll states that “we need a little history lesson,” and that his proposal is a way to get the federal government under control. How’s that going to happen? According to him, if enough small red state legislatures could choose the candidates, “they could effectively control the U.S. Senate and through that “get Washington under control.” I’m interested in who “they” is.

What seems clear to me is that Niceley’s bill (SB471) is nothing more than a brazen attempt to usurp the right to vote from all of us in Tennessee. This man suggests such a thing is okay because too many of us are not only ignorant but also apathetic. I can agree that the numbers of folks voting is low, but when the choices offered include people like Niceley, there’s not much reason to get out of the chair to choose.

I am not apathetic and resent Niceley’s suggestion that I’m ignorant. No, I don’t see eye-to-eye with the man, but that doesn’t mean I lack the capacity to choose a person to support as senator. I’ve seen the workings of our state legislature and sure don’t want them speaking for me as far as candidates for either party. By the way, what if an Independent candidate wants to run? How does he or she get on the ballot?

Our state “leaders” have often decided that we should not have the right to choose persons for leadership positions. For example, Tennesseans want a return to an elected school superintendent. However, the state legislature refuses to allow the change. Some leaders have said that appointed superintendents take the politics out of education. So, the selection process is left to school boards, and I’m pretty sure those individuals sit at the pleasure the districts that elect them. The result is that a leader of the school system answers to a handful of people instead of the public that he or she serves. Of course, we voters would have to decide on a person who lives in the area and is familiar with the “politics” of the area and the system instead of bringing in someone from far away who has no stake in educational system. I suppose the legislature thinks we voters aren’t as smart as some search firm that gets a wad of cash to find superintendent candidates.

Few of us are happy with our leaders. Their partisanship leads to fights, anger, and the dreaded “gridlock.” Frank Niceley might think he and his cohorts are better equipped to choose the “right” candidates, but I’m SURE the intent of the founding fathers was to give the right to choose leaders to the people, not the chosen few. Perhaps we can figure a way to choose a better candidate than someone who wants gerrymandered control of elections. I, for one, am disgusted with any person who thinks of himself as being above citizens who are ignorant and apathetic. Of course, Niceley might be right that voters aren’t too smart; they voted him in, didn’t they?