Tuesday, August 6, 2019

Briley's strategy to beat Cooper is to claim the mantle of "progressive" and paint Cooper as a "conservative."

by Rod Williams- The Tennessean reports today that Mayor David Briley says, "We will fight like hell," as he continues his reelection campaign. With John Cooper winning 35% of the vote compared to 25% for Briley, there hss been some speculation that Briley would throw in the towel and discontinue his campaign. Instead, Briley vows to keep on fighting.

In the Tennessean article Briley takes the position that he is the progressive and has "a forward-looking vision" and "a proven record of two decades of work for progressive causes in Nashville," while Cooper "has demonstrated he has a conservative approach in many respects and is more interested in looking in the rear view mirror than moving the city forward."

For the next few weeks I think that will be the main message of Briley, to paint himself as the progressive and Cooper as the conservative: Briley, "forward-looking;" Cooper a reactionary. Briley has advocated some progressive positions, such as making members of the LGBT community a favored group entitled to favored treatment in the awarding of Metro Contracts and in advocating that Nashville be a sanctuary city.  However, Cooper has not been an outspoken opponent of these positions.  On controversial social issues and national issues such as immigration, I don't think there is much daylight between Cooper and Briley. Briley has been more vocal, but they are both Democrats.

Where Briley can rightly be entitled to claiming to be the "progressive" and rightly label Copper the "conservative," is on fiscal management of the city.  Nashville has the most debt per person of any city our size in the nation.  Cooper is concerned about that; like a good progressive, debt does not seem to concern Briley.  Our police department is undermanned, in the last twenty years we have  build only one new fire hall and our fire department is under staffed, there is a terrible attrition rate among Metro school teachers and the number of failing schools is growing, we can't build sidewalks and our water and sewer and roadways are falling apart.  Cooper is the one who wants to focus on these things; Briely seems to think things are fine and we need to keep doing what we have been doing.  I guess focusing on the fundamentals and being concerned about public safety  and being fiscally responsible makes one a "conservative."

Cooper has been critical of sweetheart deals such as the fairgrounds soccer land giveaway deal and massive subsidy to Amazon. While I share Cooper's criticism and think many conservatives do also, so do many progressive social justice warriors.  Stand Up Nashville is very much a progressive organization and they were critical of the Amazon deal.  To label Cooper a conservative and Briley a progressive based on those issues is a stretch. Sometimes politics makes for strange alliances and it seems the most conservative element and the most progressive elements agree that corporate welfare is wrong.

Cooper has also taken a position that we need to build up and improve all neighborhoods of Nashville, not just focus on the downtown area.  I don't know if that makes one a conservative or a progressive but I think many neighborhood activist who think of themselves as progressive are more inclined to agree with Cooper than they are Briley's defense of the status quo.

Channel 5's political analyst Pat Nolan says that Briley will be seeking the support of those who voted for Carol Swan but says, "Cooper does have to get some Swain vote too", and his relationship with his brother could become an issue with some people. There are some Republicans and conservatives who like what John Cooper says about fiscal issues, they're not as crazy about his brother who they see as being very liberal in congress."

Maybe Nolan is right but he shouldn't be. Both Briley and Cooper are Democrats and both are liberal. Where they differ is that Cooper is for prudent fiscal responsibility and Briley thinks the way we have been doing things is just fine.

Labels can be a handy shortcut devise for determining if you align with another. However, labels can also be deceiving and the meanings change over time.  What is now called "conservative" used to be called "classical liberal."  I am still not sure what the difference is between "liberal" and "progressive." I think "progressive" simply means really, really liberal. When it comes to local elections however the terms don't really mean much. The big social issues can not be affected by local mayors or city council members.  Thanks to the state legislature. we cannot make Nashville a sanctuary city and we cannot impose rent controls, inclusionary zoning, or a $15 minimum wage. Locally, we cannot impact abortions or many of the other big divisive national issues.  Locally, we cannot print money. At a local level, debt matters now.

I am sure, that if they would stop and think about it, there are "progressives" more aligned with the fiscal responsibility and neighborhood orientation of Cooper than they are Briley. Also, I hope that Pat Nolan is wrong and that those who voted for Carol Swain will not vote for the fiscally irresponsible Briley simply because John Cooper is the brother of Jim Cooper. 

Stumble Upon Toolbar
My Zimbio
Top Stories

No comments:

Post a Comment