Trouble in Paradise? (Part 1)
Blount County is a wonderful place to live, nestled against the Great Smoky Mountains National Park (on the “peaceful side” of the Park), and laced with creeks and rivers. The people are friendly, the scenery is gorgeous, and the county seat—Maryville—is quaint and charming.
Maryville City Hall features a statue of Sam Houston, who grew up in Blount County before moving to Texas, where he defeated Mexican General Santa Anna at the Battle of San Jacinto in 1836, thereby winning independence for the Republic of Texas. Houston went on to serve as President of the Republic of Texas, Governor of the state of Texas, and a Senator from Texas. Houston, who also served as the seventh governor of Tennessee, is the only American to be elected governor of two different states.
Blount County is understandably proud of Sam Houston, and the Blount County Courthouse also honors local soldiers who gave their lives in combat. Eastern Tennessee, settled by independent-minded Scotch-Irish pioneers, is steeped in history.
Blount County residents are overwhelmingly patriotic and conservative. They support their local high school sports teams and, of course, UT’s Vols. Their elected officials tend to be Republicans, and have been since the Civil War. Exceptions are so rare that many eastern Tennesseans assume that Republican hegemony is inevitable. This is a grievous mistake. Complacency can be a fatal error.
Liberal forces are at work in Blount County beneath the bucolic surface. The local newspaper, the Daily Times, is very biased against Republicans and uses every opportunity to promote Democratic candidates and liberal causes. Maryville College, behind its traditional façade, employs many progressive faculty and an activist campus minister. The Blount County Democratic Party is quite active. A surprisingly large number of left-leaning groups (some of them over-lapping) enable the vocal minority of liberals in Blount County to amplify their influence: e.g., Blount County SURJ (Showing Up for Racial Justice); Alcoa-Blount County NAACP; Blount County United; Women’s March Coalition of East Tennessee; Indivisible East Tennessee; and the League of Women Voters of Blount County.
In addition to those organizations’ websites and Facebook pages, various digital publications and on-line forums allow Blount County progressives to coordinate and communicate with one another (e.g., the East Tennessee Enlightener; BlountViews; Maryville Huddle), a few progressive churches actively promote the liberal agenda (e.g., Monte Vista Baptist Church); and at least one local business serves as the cultural hub for liberal activists in the area (The Bird and the Book). Hard-left extremists are busy trying to undermine the traditional values of Blount County.
On the conservative side, Blount County residents can look to the Blount County Republican Party and the Blount County Republican Women.
It should be obvious that the Left is better organized and more motivated than the Silent Majority of conservatives in Blount County. It’s time for us to wake up and recognize that the opposition is gaining on us.
I’ll give some examples in the next post.