What Bad Politicking Tells Us About the Politicians We Need

Jul 29, 2022 by David Fowler

What Bad Politicking Tells Us About the Politicians We Need
I believe one state legislative primary is a microcosm of the dilemma voters face during Republican primaries and provides insight into what is most needed among those we elect. The one I have in mind is that between Senator Jack Johnson and Gary Humble in Williamson County. See if you agree with my assessment. And, if either of them takes my words and uses any part of them against the other, that candidate needs to lose.
My observations about the bad are based on my knowledge of both candidates. I suspect few, if any, know the politics of both candidates in the way I do. 
For those who may not care about my description of the two men, I hope you will consider for future reference my thoughts and analysis about the kind of elected officials we need.

Senator Jack Johnson

Senator Johnson arrived in the Senate the year after I retired. In 2012 I worked closely with him on legislation he carried that I initiated. Since then, he became the Senate Majority Leader, a position of considerable influence. 
I have lobbied Senator Johnson on several other pieces of legislation in recent years, most of which affirmed the historic Christian view of human sexuality. He has, per his prerogative, chosen not to co-sponsor any of them, including the recent Marital Contract Recording Act, or, to my knowledge, provide any support in the caucus for passing them. Whether that is good or bad, you will have to judge.
What disturbs me, though, is some of the tactics I have seen employed against Mr. Humble, and why Senator Johnson may have been silent about them. 
For example, the PAC funded by Senate Speaker Randy McNally has run a social media ad quoting Mr. Humble as saying, “I am not pro-business.” That statement is so far removed from the context in which it was said as to be a damnable lie. 
Mr. Humble said that if being against certain government mandates regarding COVID and protecting the rights of individuals was not pro-business, then he must not be pro-business. 

In addition some persons or organizations who support Johnson’s re-election (I strongly suspect McNally’s PAC) lied about my lobbying work in a recent push poll. 
The purpose was clear: Denigrate Mr. Humble because he worked for me for about a year. That work, maliciously misrepresented, even took place before the time of Mr. Humble’s employment. This video exposes one of the lies and this video explains the other. 
A long-term incumbent with more campaign money than he can spend, holding an important legislative position, and having the backing of virtually every prominent Republican in the Senate and in Congress should not need the support of people who would stoop to lying. 
Yet, Mr. Johnson is apparently okay with such lies being made. He has certainly not denounced them. And, if they are coming from the Speaker’s PAC, the reason is clear: You don’t criticize the speaker or you will pay the political price.
I believe such campaign tactics and candidates who, like Senator Johnson, do not call out obvious liars and demand that they desist in their lies make politics despicable. 

Gary Humble

I know from having Mr. Humble in my employ for a year that he appreciates my emphasis on God’s design for the family, the sanctity of life, and freedom of conscience. He put that appreciation to work for the organization I lead. Again, you will have to judge whether that is good or bad.
That being said, Mr. Humble’s approach to politics for the last two years has been aggressive, and he knows I have thought it too much so at times. In my view, he sometimes lets his emotions get the better of him (truthfully, a fault of my own to which both candidates can attest). 
I also think Mr. Humble thinks he knows more about the Constitution and constitutional jurisprudence than he does. To his credit, though, I have found him approachable and teachable in this regard.
Finally, in my view, Gary has ripped into some legislators for their votes and made comments about them when a better understanding of the process and its challenges, which comes from experience, would have suggested a different approach.  
These things have caused many, particularly legislators, to be adamantly opposed to Mr. Humble’s election and favor Senator Johnson.
I cannot comment on Mr. Humble’s campaign pieces because I am not in the district. 

My Analysis

In my view, the tactics employed by Mr. Humble in his pre-campaign political efforts and decried by supporters of Senator Johnson are the same tactics being employed by some who support Senator Johnson.  In my view, this is the pot calling the kettle black. 
For Johnson’s supporters to respond, “Well, Humble started it,” sounds like siblings who were fighting in the backseat of the car when a parent turned around and said, “Enough! You two stop it.”
But here is the more important point: If being associated with me and the organization I lead makes Mr. Humble unqualified for office, then the same must be true for Senator Johnson who has supporters who deliberately lie, even about a third party (the organization I lead)  that has never endorsed or given money to any candidate and was minding its own business. If Senator Johnson is unwilling to disassociate himself from those who use these tactics in support of him, then, in my book, he is, in principle, no different.
Mr. Johnson could have decried these tactics and has not. Mr. Humble, to my knowledge, has never acknowledged that in the past he has sometimes misspoken or been too over the top.
My fellow voters, we will keep getting these rhetorical tactics in politics as long as we keep continue to accept them, which is why I am speaking out even if the winner never wants to see me in his office, which leads to my final point.

What We Need in our Politicians

I have come to believe that seeing politics as a means of getting power and wielding it to bring about a preferred agenda leads to the kind of political rhetoric we get.
This approach to politics should be problematic for the Christian because it denies, in principle, everything the Bible says about God.  
For the Christian, God is the source of all authority and power. By His authority and power all things, including the things we do, are providentially used and directed by Him toward fulfillment of His agenda set in eternity before the first act of creation. 
Because God has authority over all things and intends to manifest that truth to all, He says the meek—those humble enough to yield to God in all things—will be the ones that will eventually inherit the earth. 
Because God delights to manifest His power, He says His power is perfected when we acknowledge our utter weakness apart from Him. 
Given the foregoing, the question for the Christian is which candidate best demonstrates that humility and dependency. That candidate, if elected, is less likely to become an arrogant tyrant over time, willing to lie to hold power.
In the case of the primary between Jack Johnson and Gary Humble, we may not know the answer until we seek how the winner responds to the outcome, particularly to those who opposed him. 
I wonder which one will be humble enough to consider the possibility God was using his opponents to bring him to a position of greater humility and dependence on God going forward. 
[1] Please, do not insult my intelligence as one long-term incumbent did by suggesting that Senator Johnson or his experienced campaign manager do not know what these “independent organizations” are doing. I was a candidate for the state Senate. I knew what was going on and so does the Senator’s campaign.

David Fowler served in the Tennessee state Senate for 12 years before joining FACT as President in 2006.

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