Last week, the Tennessee State Legislature decided that it was a good idea to expel two black democrats for a minor “rules infraction.” That same body thought it was a good idea to spare the white woman who participated in the same gun safety protest as the two black men. The backlash was swift and severe. It was an obvious case of “good-ole-boy” and “nullification” politics that has been happening in the south for centuries. The Tennessee GOP shamelessly put themselves in the spotlight with the bone-headed move, and America didn’t like what it saw.
Apparently, the Tennessee GOP thought this was 1923, not 2023.
After the expulsion, the GOP didn’t stop there. After it became known that the local governments could simply reinstate Justin Jones and Justin Pearson, the two legislators who were blatantly unfairly ripped from their duly elected seats, the GOP started making threats.
They threatened to cut off local funding to the areas that Jones and Pearson represent. This was reported by multiple sources. Pearson himself, who was suddenly thrust onto the national stage after the expulsion, told a national audience how he “heard that people in the state legislature and in Nashville are actually threatening our Shelby County commissioners to not reappoint me, or they’re going to take away funding that’s in the government’s budget for projects that the mayor and others have asked for.”
“This is what folks really have to realize,” said Pearson. “The power structure in the state of Tennessee is always wielding against the minority party and people.”
Pearson’s story was corroborated last week by Shelby County Commissioner Erika Sugarmon. She told local reporters that members of the body are “being threatened by the state to take away funding, needed funding to run our schools, to run our municipalities.”
“This is about bullying people into submission. And enough is enough,” said Sugarmon.
Now, it appears that the Tennessee GOP is finally waking up and smelling the coffee.
On Monday, Tennessee House Speaker Cameron Sexton said that he could not stop two expelled representatives from being reappointed. In a statement, a spokesperson for Sexton said that the speaker would not stand in the way of the reappointment of Democratic Reps. Justin Pearson and Justin Jones.
“The two governing bodies will make the decision as to who they want to appoint to these seats,” the statement from Sexton’s office said. “Those two individuals will be seated as representatives as the constitution requires.”
The Tennessee GOP wanted to teach those “boys” a lesson. Now, it looks more like it was the GOP that was taken to school. They wanted to send a message. Now, it looks like the only message sent was that the Tennessee GOP is both ignorantly backward and majorly incompetent.
It is possible that Pearson and Jones could be returning to the State Capitol in their duly elected roles by the end of the week.