Sunday, April 16, 2023

How Republicans handed Democrats a major win with expulsion of Jones and Pearson.

by Rod Williams, April 16, 2023 - I opposed expelling what have become known as the "Tennessee Three." Not because I did not think that their actions in leading a protest from the well of the chamber was not despicable; I firmly believe we must have decorum in legislative bodies in order to have a working Democracy. I opposed expulsion because I did not want to elevate the status of the three law makers. On April 4th, I wrote the following:

There should be an expected level of decorum. However, ousting is a drastic step and less severe measures should be taken first. The Speaker should call attention to the behavior of Jones and his colleagues from the podium and admonish them and warn that a repeat of such behavior will result in more drastic action.  

I know Jones is an activist and does not respect decorum. I was once at a Marsha Blackburn event where he disrupted the meeting during the prayer and had to be physically removed from the room. Then there was the time when a House Representative was engaged in dialog with protestors and Justin Jones threw a cup on hot coffee on the Representative.  I understand that the leopard is unlikely to change his spots with a mere warring and admonition from the speaker. 

Still, I would support something less drastic than ouster. To oust him will make him a martyr and a hero to the left. He may become an in-demand radical like Al Sharpton and get his own show on MSNTV and a teaching job at TSU.  I would support a resolution censuring the three and stripping Jones of his committee assignments. 

It has happened. They have become national figures. They got encouragement and praise from the President, the Vice President came to Nashville for a photo-op, they have been featured in numerous TV news shows, and their story has become world-wide news.  They are now back in the same seat from which they were ousted without missing a single vote. Republicans shot themselves in the foot.

Writing in The Tennessean, Vivian Jones says "experts" call the ouster, "a political misstep that has energized state and national Democrats and propelled the expelled lawmakers onto the national stage, while affording no clear victory for Republicans."  I think it is difficult to not agree. 

She writes that Oscar Brock, a Republican National Committee member from Chattanooga, said "the expulsion votes and ensuing national rancor was a political miscalculation that could have long-term ripple effects."  Quoting Brock, Jones writes:

"They did overstep, they clearly overstepped: I don't think anyone is arguing they didn't,” Brock said of the lawmakers who violated House rules.

But Brock said Republican lawmakers may have overreacted.

“What I suspect they failed to take into account was that by treating them as harshly as they chose to, they would lift these three to national prominence in very short order and enable them to bring voice to an issue that many people are passionate about on both sides,” Brock said.

She writes that the expulsion has energized the Democrats and helped frame the debate about gun control. 

Also, Republicans lost the public opinion poll on the expulsion. Jones writes, "51% of Americans consider the move to expel Jones and Pearson an “anti-democratic abuse of power,” while 42% viewed expulsion as “an appropriate way” to discipline lawmakers."

In Jones's piece, there is more evidence and informed opinion saying that Republicans came out the loser on this episode.  Also, it will cost about $600,000 for special elections which Jones and Pearson are sure to win. Face it; the ouster achieved nothing, it made heroes of these radicals, it energized gun control activist, it made Tennessee look bad, and it wasted money.

Republicans acted emotionally rather than rationally and handed Democrats a win. Republicans shot themselves in the foot. Maybe Republicans in the House needs some anger management training. 

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