With the turn of the calendar to 2019, the political climate at all levels continues to change and adjust in accordance with elections held late last year and some yet to come.
We are seeing transitions in power, as the Democrats take control of the U.S. House of Representatives. But even there, what’s old is new again, with Nancy Pelosi taking a second turn as House Speaker, a powerful and visible role.
As I write this, we are in the midst of a government shutdown. The House, scarcely hours after the Democrats took control, passed a bill to reopen government, but without funding for the wall on the Mexican border that President Trump promised during his 2016 campaign. That’s a deal breaker for not only the president, but for the Senate, which still maintains a Republican majority. For now, any bill that does not include that funding is dead on arrival in the Senate and/or the Oval Office. And so, predictably, the stalemate goes on until somebody blinks.
If one can get past the frustration, which is no small hurdle, the political theater is fascinating.
Pelosi, the first female House Speaker, was nothing short of giddy as she reclaimed the gavel to once again reign over her colleagues. She is already coyly talking about impeachment of Trump, and did an interview with Savannah Guthrie on “Today” to get that topic on everyone’s mind. In that interview she was quick to point out that impeachment should not be for political reasons, but neither should it be avoided for political reasons.
That has to be one of the most strategically worded statements I have ever heard, appealing to her Democratic colleagues and supporters who would like nothing more than to bring down the sitting president. The twinkle in her eye was unmistakable.
We Tennesseans witnessed history being made as Marsha Blackburn was sworn in as the first female U.S. Senator from our state. I am still astounded by her resounding defeat of former Nashville Mayor and Tennessee Governor Phil Bredesen. Hitching her wagon to Trump has obviously proven beneficial to her, and she’s sure to continue to be a staunch ally of his.
That will be in stark contrast to her predecessor, now former Senator Bob Corker, who openly sparred with President Trump, despite their common party affiliation. Corker was known as a deal maker among colleagues on both sides of the aisle, and gained a reputation for bipartisanship.
In a couple of weeks, we will have a new governor when political newcomer and Williamson County resident Bill Lee is inaugurated. With his good-guy, aw-shucks persona in this currently solidly red state, he should be able to expect a honeymoon of at least a few months.
Here in Brentwood, we will have a spring election for four seats on the Board of Commissioners. One newcomer, Susannah MacMillan, has announced her intention to run, with a promise to make supporting schools a top priority. This will be her first venture into politics.
Two sitting commissioners, Betsy Crossley and Jill Burgin, have said they will not run for re-election, while Ken Travis and Anne Dunn have announced their intentions to run again.
I met Crossley in the Leadership Brentwood class of 2005. A recent Brentwood Home Page story detailing her decision not to run quoted her as saying she wanted to allow others to have the opportunity she has had to serve. The story also said she is looking toward retirement in the next ten years and wants to learn to sail. I could not help but smile when I read that.
Betsy Crossley is one of the most well rounded folks I know, and I’m not at all surprised she is looking at learning another skill, especially one that involves adventure. I recall in our Leadership Brentwood class, when we were asked to state an interesting or unusual fact about ourselves, hers was that she plays bagpipes. Sailing will be right up her alley.
I don’t know Jill Burgin, who has taken a job with the Heritage Foundation of Williamson County as executive director of its Main Street Program. I was, however, a fan of her columns in The Tennessean, and then Brentwood Home Page. It was her decision to give up the Home Page column when she decided to run for City Commissioner that led to former editor Susan Leathers letting me have a shot at a weekly column after about a year of my gently pestering her.
Both Burgin and Crossley did stints as mayor during their time on the commission. Both of these ladies have served their city with distinction, Crossley for 12 years and Burgin for eight, and we should all be grateful to them.
According to recent Home Page stories, Anne Dunn and Ken Travis have strong desires to continue the work they have been doing on the Board. Dunn, who has served nearly 30 years, claims there is still plenty of work to do and believes her familiarity and experience will continue to be beneficial to the Brentwood citizenry. Travis, acknowledging himself as the “rookie commissioner,” was the first to pick up his petition to run again. He has served one four-year term and is anxious to continue for another four.
Once upon a time I thought I might like to run for political office. That was then, and this is now, and I’m pretty sure my personality would not be conducive to either running or serving. So I’m appreciative of those who do, even the ones I do not support. The political stuff gets messy and nasty, but it’s still public service.
Bob McKinney is a longtime Brentwood resident, happy husband and proud father, father-in-law and grandfather. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.