Bruce Barry

Bruce Barry

Bruce Barry is a professor of management at Vanderbilt University who teaches and writes about ethics, conflict, rights, politics, policy, and other things that pop into his head.

The Tennessee State Capitol with locked gates. (Photo: John Partipilo)

It (probably) can’t happen here

By: - November 13, 2023

Election day 2023 turned out to be a euphoric one for Democrats who have lately been spending way too much time marinating in the sour juices of grandpa-trails-an-unhinged-fascist polling. Voters in quite red Ohio said yes they would like to be able to smoke a joint and get an abortion. Voters in very red Kentucky […]


The Nashville mayoral end game

By: - September 11, 2023

(Editor’s note: An earlier version of this story attributed a quote in the last paragraph to Alice Rolli instead of Freddie.) There are two ways to foreshadow how things will go down Thursday night when Nashville’s aeonic mayoral election saga finally streams its series finale. Most likely is the conventional wisdom prediction (it’s not called […]


Running off with it?

By: - August 21, 2023

In political circles talk of a candidate’s “lane”— a metaphorical claim to an exclusive or dominant hold on some identifiable voter segment—has grown banal almost to the point of cliché. But in a jungle primary with a crowded field, like the first round of voting in Nashville’s mayoral race, lanes do matter. The two who […]


Photo finish?

By: - July 27, 2023

For months the narrative of Nashville’s mayoral race has revolved around a gaggle of hopefuls with a legitimate shot at making the two-candidate runoff, but little consensus among journalists, pundits, and assorted political obsessives on which two it will be. Now, with just a week until election day, the picture is coming into focus. Sort […]

Nashville mayoral candidates, from left: Sen. Jeff Yarbro, Stephanie Johnson, Metro Councilmember Sharon Hurt, Sen. Heidi Campbell, Natisha Brooks, Matt Wiltshire, Councilmember Freddie O'Connell and Davidson County Property Assessor Vivian Wilhoite. (Photo: John Partipilo)

Home stretch

By: - July 6, 2023

The eight (significant) contenders for mayor of Nashville have been slogging their way through summer heat and humidity long enough to show those paying attention who they are and how they think about the city. But the reality is that many haven’t been paying attention: for elections of this sort (municipal races in odd-numbered years) […]

Ten of the 12 candidates for Nashville mayor at the May 10 Arts and Entertainment Forum. (Photo: John Partipilo)

Rounding the clubhouse turn

By: - June 15, 2023

With a scant four weeks until the start of early voting the state of the race to become Nashville’s next mayor is, like a typical summer day here, hazy with a chance of a popup storm or two that will probably never come. As the gaggle of hopefuls navigate an unremitting stream of joint live […]

Historic Nashville Courthouse. (Photo: John Partipilo)

Analysis: State of the Nashville mayor’s race

By: - May 2, 2023

Hey kids, with early voting in Nashville’s wide open mayoral race just two months away, let’s check in and see what’s what. The qualifying deadline is still a couple of weeks off, but the field is pretty much set, and forum season — that uniquely Nashville cumulus of collective dog-and-ponies before every possible civic organization […]

Nissan Stadium in Nashville, home of the Tennessee Titans. (Photo: John Partipilo)

Don’t look up

By: - April 10, 2023

Spring is a time of renewal in the Tennessee General Assembly: renewal of infatuated devotion to the widest possible access to firearms, renewal of rampant hostility aimed at those with the audacity to be something other than a white cisgender heterosexual Christian, renewal of fervent disdain for the notion that access to health care is […]

Metro Nashville Courthouse. (Photo: John Partipilo)

Let’s get this party started

By: - March 9, 2023

John Cooper’s choice to forgo a second term as Nashville’s mayor is among the better things that have happened in this city in quite a while. At his 2019 inauguration he declared that “what our fellow citizens want from us is very clear: a focus on neighborhoods, a Nashville where tourism benefits residents, not the […]

Downtown Nashville on a typical night. (Photo: John Partipilo)

A tale of two cities

By: - January 30, 2023

Recent news that Music City tourism honcho Butch Spyridon will (sort of) retire this summer has me thinking about how Nashville has changed during his three decades leading what is essentially the city’s official tourism bureau, the Nashville Convention & Visitors Corp.  Short answer: in just about every way. Longer answer: in some ways that […]

Nissan Stadium in Nashville, home of the Tennessee Titans. (Photo: John Partipilo)

Not ready for takeoff

By: - December 13, 2022

Eight weeks have blown by since Mayor John Cooper and the Tennessee Titans delivered unto Nashville a so-called term sheet (lawyer speak for “stuff we provisionally agree on”) with procedural and financial particulars for a proposed new East Bank stadium. Writing here at the time I called it a bad deal built on specious logic […]

Mayor John Cooper, left, with Tennessee Titans cheerleaders and mascots for Nashville's professional sports teams during a 2021 COVID vaccination event at Titans stadium. (Photo: John Partipilo)

A bad deal

By: - October 24, 2022

The prospect of a new $2.1 billion domed stadium for the Titans finally dropped from the ether to the table last week when Nashville Mayor John Cooper unveiled financial particulars that will go before the Metro Council for its approval. Cooper’s sales pitch — now being endlessly recycled on every media platform that will give […]