How would Democrats change Tennessee?

by Dave Carew

Although Underground Nashville is not a political blog, we believe it’s very important during this election season to respectfully and thoughtfully present the views of as many different political parties as possible. Recently, we ran our interview with Justin Owen of the conservative/libertarian Beacon Center of Tennessee. Now, to present another perspective, we offer our exclusive interview with Brandon Puttbrese, Communications Director of the Tennessee Democratic Party:

UNDERGROUND NASHVILLE:   What is the central, over-arching message of Tennessee Democrats this election year?

BRANDON PUTTBRESE: We’re all in it together. Putting Tennesseans back to work at good-paying jobs and restoring middle class security has to be our top priority. It’s time to rebuild a fair economy that protects the middle class AND rewards hard work and responsibility with opportunity. Our state economy grows strongest from the middle out and bottom up. The special-interest-dominated governor and legislature not only failed to create high-quality jobs, but they have focused all their efforts on an irresponsible, top-down economic agenda that punishes working families to reward the wealthiest and most privileged Tennesseans.

UN:   If Democrats were to control the General Assembly in Tennessee after this election, how do you believe the economic situation of the average Tennessean would be improved over the ensuing two years?

BP: The special-interest governor and legislature are creating a huge mess that is shortchanging our families, our children, and our future. The damage they’re doing to working and middle class families will take years to fix. With Democrats in charge, you would finally see a meaningful focus on protecting our families and workers who are still looking for jobs through no fault of their own.  Democrats proposed a dozen jobs bills in 2012, and Republicans killed nearly all of them. Instead, the Republican agenda was: more tax breaks for millionaires and billionaires; big money privatization that drains funding from our kids’ schools; and radical reforms like removing 800,000 Tennessee seniors from Medicare and forcing them into a TennCare-style state department.

UN:   Why do you believe Tennessee has become such a solid Republican state over the past five years?  How do you plan to turn that around?

BP: President Barack Obama earned more votes in Tennessee than Governor Bill Haslam. There are plenty of Democrats in Tennessee to win most state elections. Our challenge—which has been made more difficult by Republican voter-suppression tactics like the voter ID law—is to register, engage, educate, and turn out Democratic voters for our elections. Tennessee is almost dead-last in voter participation. If we increase participation in our elections, Democrats are not only competitive — Democrats win. Republicans know this. Is that why they are attacking our basic freedom to vote, and citizens are being robbed of their right to participate in our elections?

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David M. (Dave) Carew is writer/editor of “Underground Nashville” and the author of the novels “Everything Means Nothing to Me: A Novel of Underground Nashville” and “Voice from the Gutter.” He also is a freelance book editor, publicist, seminar and workshop leader, journalist, and advertising/marketing/public relations writer.


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Editor’s Note: “Underground Nashville” covers artists, authors, musicians, poets, political figures, and other compelling people and happenings not typically covered by the mainstream Nashville media. It also presents reflections and commentary from an underground/indie perspective, offering “thoughts from the shadows of a great American city.”

Dave Carew




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