Tennessee Firearms Association, Inc.
Legislative Action Committee
The Safe Commute act's demise in the 107th General Assembly is positive proof that the existing oligarchical control by caucus leaders is too easily abused.
The question is becoming not only for firearms owners but for all constitutionally based conservatives whether the failure of the Republicans to pass the Safe Commute act is the main issue in this election or whether it is a very visible symptom of a process that was used by Republican leadership in the General Assembly which process is ultimately a more significant issue with a much broader concern.
The more we examine the facts, the events and factor in additional information that continues to develop from yet an ever growing network of sources, the more it appears that the larger threat to a Republican form of government in Tennessee is a concentration of power in the hands of a very small number of leaders in the General Assembly. That concentration of power has given rise to a defacto oligarchy.
While we can talk about the details of the Safe Commute act and why it should have been embraced by the legislators, the fact is that the passage of that act would likely have done nothing to impede the long term problems with the manner in which some legislators controll too much power and other legislators are intimidated, disregarded or shunned when they make an effort to represent the interests of their constituents. Perhaps we need to focus even more attention on the abuses of concentrated power. The abuses of using a manipulated and rigged committee system. A system which, as implemented, is not used to fully explore or vet legislation but which is used by leadership on an as needs basis as a set of hurdles designed to have multiple opportunities to derail legislation before it can ever be presented and debated on the floor.
Who controls such a system? Not the citizens through their elected officials because too many of those officials are denied a voice or participation in specific committees which are hand packed by leadership. Consequently, large numbers of citizens - the majority of citizen voters - are effectively disenfranchised from having their representative voice heard or their representatives votes cast on the proposed bills which impact all of us. Those few in whose hands the power is concentrated under this committee system are not accountable to the citizens at large nor even to those in their districts. No, they become addicted to the power, the money and their "enablers" are the money distributors representing the almost limitless resources of Big Business and "government lobbyists" who work on the taxpayers' tab against the interests of tax payers. And what is the fuel that drives this system? Money.
Money begets power. Power in the hands of the wrong officials is not used to fulfill oaths of office, to protect and defend the constitution or to protect the general welfare and interests of the citizens. Power in the wrong hands is the tool through which abuses of power arise, unjust financial rewards are demanded from special interests or extorted demands for "contributions" are made and enforced. James Madison noted these evils and cautioned us to guard against them:
No political truth is certainly of greater intrinsic value, or is stamped with the authority of more enlightened patrons of liberty than that on which the objection is founded. The accumulation of all powers, legislative, executive, and judiciary, in the same hands, whether of one, a few, or many, and whether hereditary, self-appointed, or elective, may justly be pronounced the very definition of tyranny. James Madison, Federalist No. 48, February 1, 1788.
The concentration of power in the hands of a few, even among the elected, constitutes and fosters the environment of opportunistic tyranny. We have seen it revealed with the stunts of leadership in the 107th General Assembly as exercised to keep the Safe Commute legislation from a full and fair hearing on the floors of the respective houses. Not because of a lack of interest or merit but solely because those leaders apparently knew that if these bills came to the floors that they would pass and consequently that their promises given in exchange for the money and support from Big Business would be compromised. Were it not so, why not bring those bills to the floor for full debate and consideration from whence they could be refined or amended other otherwise voted upon a prove to the citizens that the majorities of both houses were against the legislation? That did not happen because the representations of leadership that the bills lacked merit or support among the individual elected legislators were, one might easily infer, public lies.
While TFA is focused on 2nd Amendment legislation, Tea Party groups are focused on other issues and other conservative grassroots groups have even more diverse issues, all are victimized by the abrogation of stewardship by those in leadership who have become addicted to the cocaine of power and the money that feeds that addiction.
If we, as citizens, are to restore constitutional stewardship to state and federal elected offices, we have no choice but to destroy the "cocaine" distribution system that yields abuses of political power. We must, as the stakeholders of our freedoms and rights, restore accountability and stewardship to the citizen in those who are selected to hold public office. We must ever remind them that they are stewards, not rulers by divine right -- as Rep. Debra Maggart and others have apparently deluded themselves into believing.
Those legislators in whom political power was concentrated as leaders in the 107th General Assembly but who have abused that authority must be removed from office and if not from office then from power. It is the task of the citizens to support, volunteer for and elect challengers to replace them. It is the burden of the citizen to demand of their individual representatives in the House or Senate that they, when called upon to select their leaders for the 108th General Assembly, effectively disqualify those who served in the 107th and to appoint others to positions of leadership and then to hold them accountable to conduct the committee system so that a full and functional Republican form of government is restored.
It is time to start with Debra Maggart. Remove her from office. Remove her from power. Remove her from the financial rewards that she values most above her duties as a steward and elected official. Remind others that the oath of office is not a mere recital but a bond which demands the highest allegiance and which cannot be lightly ignored.