Tuesday, July 18, 2023

I was not the only Republican to skip the Statesman's Dinner. Lee, Hagerty, Blackburn were no-shows.

by Rod Williams, July 18, 2023- I skipped the Statesman's Dinner this year. The Statesman's Dinner, held at the Music City Center, is the big annual Tennessee Republican Party gala fundraiser. It is usually a fun event. I like nice events where people get dressed up. It is a big event and close to 1900 people attended this year.  There is a cocktail party that last about an hour or so and then people move to the ball room for the main event. I have attended several of the Stateman's Dinners over the years. I have always enjoyed them. There is usually entertainment, and some minor speakers and one big political star gives a speech and the most notable or hardest working Republican in each county is recognized. 

With something like 76% of Republicans supporting Trump, and probably more than that in Tennessee, and it being a cold day in hell before I will ever vote for Trump again, I just can't work up the enthusiasm for hanging with Republicans like I used to.  You see, I believe in the peaceful transfer of power and I don't think many Republicans do any longer. I am still a Republican and hope someday the party returns to sanity and its conservative roots but right now I really am a "disgruntled" republican. 

Upon reflection, I am sure I would have enjoyed it had I gone. There are people I don't see that often, that I would have liked to have seen. But I am experiencing a serious Republican enthusiasm gap and with tickets being $300 and then overpriced drinks on top of that, I just didn't feel motivated. 

I certainly would not have gone if Donald Trump would have been the keynote speaker.  I could not have stomached being in the room with hundreds of cheering Trumpinistas. But, when I heard the speaker this year was going to be DeSantis, I was at first pleased and planned to go. I was pleased it was not Trump who was going to be the speaker and with DeSantis being the leading challenger to Trump, I initially looked forward to attending. Since then, however, my enthusiasm for DeSantis has waned. 

I think DeSantis was a good governor and I have liked him, but recently I have liked him less and less. For one thing, he seems soft on support for Ukraine. I don't want to hear Republicans criticize Biden for his administration's commitment to support for Ukraine; I want Republicans to criticize Biden for foot-dragging on weapons delivery.  Ever since DeSantis described the Russian invasion of Ukraine as a “territorial dispute” I have cooled toward him.  

Also, while I at first welcomed DeSantis for standing up against wokeism, it is getting tiresome. One can stand up for traditional values and call out the left's wokeness without being mean-spirited. I know it is fine nettle to thread but in my view DeSantis's has gone overboard. And some of it seems manufactured like he is trying to keep people riled. While we need to push back against the gay and transgender agenda, it does not need to be the primary focus of a campaign.  So due to these two factors, I could not work up much enthusiasm to attend the Stateman's Dinner. 

It turns out that I was not the only Republican who did not attend. None of Tennessee’s three statewide elected officials, Gov. Bill Lee, Sen. Marsha Blackburn, nor Sen Bill Hagerty attended the event. In previous years I seem to recall that they were all speakers at the event. And before Lee was the governor, I seem to recall previous Republican governors were always speakers at the event. I can only assume that out of fear of Trump or loyalty to Trump they did not want to be present where people stood and applauded Trump's leading opponent.  All three lawmakers sent in videos rather than appearing in person. That does not speak well for the state of the Party. The Republican Party is more and more seeming to be the Trump Party. 

For The Tennessean's coverage of the event, follow this link

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