Image Credit: alumni.utk.edu
By Don Beehler [contributor to The Tennessee Conservative] –
A new organization called the Coalition for Common Sense TN claims to focus on supporting elected officials and candidates who have “the greater good of the community as a priority versus divisive ideological issues.”
Based in Williamson County, the organization is chaired by former Tennessee State House candidate Bob Ravener. According to news media reports, Mr. Ravener claims there are “hundreds of community leaders and concerned residents in Williamson County” behind his community advocacy group. Furthermore, the coalition’s website states the organization represents “the vast majority” of Williamson County residents.
This is one of the oldest tricks in the book: Claim the moral high ground, say your views represent the majority (with no evidence) and declare that you are for “the greater good of the community.” Then, reposition anyone with a different opinion as “extreme,” “divisive,” “disruptive” and against what’s good for the community.
As I write this on Sept. 6, no names are listed on the Coalition for Common Sense TN’s website, nor is any evidence provided to support the assertion that it represents the “vast majority” of our community. There is, however, an appeal to join the organization’s email list because, “We need to show that the coalition is made up of a unified and large community who embrace our vision.”
Show us, please. Where can we see a list of the hundreds of residents who are behind this coalition? Transparency is an essential part of credibility, especially when claiming to speak for the “vast majority.”
If the Coalition for Common Sense TN is successful, we can expect to see other similar “community advocacy groups” popping up throughout the state as self-appointed arbiters of what is best for Tennesseans. So it’s worth taking a closer look and asking a few questions.
Historically, the words “the greater good” have been used to justify all sorts of abuses. Who defines what is “the greater good” for our community (it used to be the voters), and what constitutes common sense these days?
Why label certain ideological issues as “divisive” and those with opposing views as “disruptive” instead of presenting merit-based arguments that explain why one’s preferred ideology is best for the community?
For example, traditional Judeo-Christian values today are deemed threatening, divisive, extreme and even hateful to some, so a little clarity from Mr. Ravener on what his coalition considers “the extremes of the political spectrum” would be helpful.
What research has Mr. Ravener conducted to ascertain what the vast majority of Williamson County residents think about various issues?
And if the views he considers extreme, divisive and disruptive are indeed small in number, as he claims, why is he so concerned about them?
Standing up for one’s beliefs certainly could be threatening and divisive to those who lack the capacity to engage in the arena of ideas. I trust that is not the case with Mr. Ravener, but voters deserve some specifics on what he and his coalition believe are groups promoting ideology that is not in the best interests of our community—and why.
Among the guiding principles listed on the coalition’s website are finding common ground and encouraging civil discourse, but how does using pejorative language to describe differing opinions further those ambitions?
Real leadership is considerate and respectful of all points of view. It listens rather than lectures, acknowledging that those with other opinions also want what is best for the community. It trusts voters to be intelligent and informed enough to sort through the issues on their own, without a coalition telling us what’s in our best interests.
About the Author: Don Beehler is a retired public relations consultant in Franklin, Tennessee