Legislative takeover looks like fascism

March 11, 2023 12:23 pm
Photo illustration by John Partipilo.

Photo illustration by John Partipilo.

What do you call it when a group of legislators pass legislation that is designed to intentionally make a place worse? 

As far as I know, there isn’t a specific term for this, but it could be described as “malicious legislation” or “destructive legislation.” The idea that a group of legislators would intentionally create laws to make a place worse is highly unethical and goes against the fundamental purpose of government, which is to improve the lives of citizens and communities. It should also be considered an abuse of power and a violation of the legislators’ duties to serve the public interest.

This is where we are in Tennessee. The GOP is intentionally forcing through bills that are intended to punish Nashville for refusing to host the 2024 Republican National Convention — a blatant attempt to suppress dissent. 

There are a variety of punishments included in these bills, all aimed at consolidating the power of state Republicans. First, legislation passed and signed into law on Thursday reduces the Nashville Council by half, from 40 to 20 representatives, effectively firing half of the city council, and redrawing Nashville’s district lines. 

Next up on the docket: state Republicans have proposed a hostile takeover that would install Gov. Bill Lee, the Speaker of the House and the Lieutenant Governor on the boards governing National International Airport, and would give the Tennessee GOP the ability to name 10 of the 13 spots on the board that manage our sports venues: Bridgestone Arena, Geodis Park, and Nissan Stadium. They’ve also got a bill that would remove the special tax zone downtown, effectively defunding the Music City Center. 

It’s worth noting that this means the GOP would seize control of over $3 billion in capital spending across the Nashville area: a $1.5 billion airport renovation project, and a $1.5 billion Nissan Stadium renovation — or an even more costly new stadium. This opens the door for rampant corruption from a state party that is apparently feeling as if they have no checks or balances on their behavior. 

These bills target only Nashville, and everyone involved on the Hill understands that the legislation is retaliation for Nashville’s rejection of the RNC. Nobody thinks this proposal will make Nashville better: the punishment is the point. 

Intentionally designing legislation to make a place worse could be seen as a form of authoritarianism, which is a core feature of fascist regimes. In such a system, the government may use legislation as a tool to enforce their agenda and suppress opposition, without regard for the interests and needs of the people. If a group of legislators is intentionally creating harmful laws to consolidate their power or suppress dissent, it could be seen as a manifestation of fascist tendencies.

Let’s call what’s happening in Tennessee what it is: a fascist takeover of the state’s biggest and fastest growing economy.

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Laura Brown
Laura Brown

Laura Brown is a Tennessee-raised businesswoman and writer. She has graduate degrees from Vanderbilt University and Middle Tennessee State University and a bachelor's degree from the University of Tennessee. You can follow her on Twitter @LBonPlanetEarth