The angry grandmother: When Tennessee’s lawmakers act worse than toddlers

February 27, 2023 12:01 pm
Members of the Tennessee House of Representatives greeting each other on opening day of session. Jan. 9, 2023.(Photo: John Partipilo)

Tennessee state lawmakers in April 2022. (Photo: John Partipilo)

Have you ever dealt with a grandchild who throws a tantrum when things do not go their way? If they don’t get their favorite food, if it rains during the time scheduled for the playground, or if they have to share their toys? We all have a way of cajoling young ones to be a little more flexible —that broccoli is delicious or that the sun will come out soon, for instance.

But I am at a total loss about how to react to the Tennessee Legislature. The members  seem to be throwing a big tsunami of a tantrum and being a giant bully because the Nashville Metro Council said no to hosting the Republican National Convention in 2024.

I do not want any national political conventions held in my city. It does not matter to me whether it be Democratic, Republican, Independent or Green. I do not believe political conventions are safe. Why does this uppity political junkie feel this way? 

If Nashville hosts one of the conventions to select a presidential candidate, we will be inundated with groups like the Proud Boys and every other scary group that was part of the treasonous invasion of the U.S. Capitol  on Jan. 6, 2021. Those people terrified me and I would definitely fear for my grandchildren.  They terrorized our nation’s capital. 

And, I also remember the violence of the 1968 Democratic Convention which resulted in a great deal of trauma. 

The virtual conventions of 2020 were a success. Nominees were safely selected, speeches given, performances enjoyed and the process was safe. Other conventions are different. They are about selling a product whether it be guitars, software, insurance or washer and dryers.

Because the people Nashvillians elected to represent us on local issues, our Metro Council,  said ‘no’ to the Republican National Convention, our state leaders have decided to punish us. State leaders want to take over how we elect our mayor, our council and who gets to serve on local commissions. 

You can be sure that council districts will be drawn in a way that benefits those in power today in state government, which may not be the same thing as representing the diverse neighborhoods of Nashville.

Some of the people who want to punish us the most do not live in cities and as someone who grew up in a small town, I can tell you there is a big difference between living in a rural community and living in an urban area. There are advantages and disadvantages to both. 

I have stayed in Nashville because I want to live in a big city, not a small town. This grandmother is really angry because out children continue to suffer — witness the continued crisis in the Tennessee Department of Children’s Services — and our legislature appears to be spending more time bullying Nashville than taking care of those in need.

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Saralee Terry Woods
Saralee Terry Woods

Saralee Terry Woods is an uppity independent who ran BookManBookWoman Bookstore for more than 25 years in Nashville.