A tale of two governors

Dan ArpPowell

In the movie “As Good as it Gets,” Jack Nicholson says he wants “to be a better person.” For some time now I have been trying to do just that. As a very opiniated person, this is no easy task. I have strong beliefs and am often quick to assert them and refute what others say.

I’m trying to make myself politically into what I refer to as a Lincoln/Eisenhour follower. Eisenhour believed in the middle way, finding a way through the political parties’ differences. Lincoln believed in equality of opportunity. The philosopher Joseph Campbell spoke of “finding the center of one’s bliss.” I look for these and other sources that will help me in my quest.

Cindy and I recently spent five days driving from Heiskell, Tennessee, to Alameda, California, a small island in the Bay Area. We traveled there to celebrate the holidays with our sons, their wives and the best grandson in the world. As we drove, we were accompanied by many podcasts.

Hands down, in our opinion, the best series was “You Might Be Right.” This series, put together at the Howard Baker Center at UT, is amazing. Co-hosted by former Govs. Phil Bredesen (Democrat) and Bill Haslam (Republican), this podcast fits very well into my self-improvement kit. I will put this program up against anything like it produced anywhere. It makes me proud of Tennessee.

The theme is based on Howard Baker’s famous ability to reach across the aisle and acknowledge that the other person might be right. He was a listener.

Bredesen and Haslam follow this theme. In their programs they introduce topics such as the filibuster and affordable housing. They host two presenters, on opposite sides of the topic, each of which bring facts and statistics to their side. There are no arguments. Haslam and Bredesen explain that “they are making a humble attempt to bring civility to government.”

Cindy and I learned a lot listening to these conversations. At the end of each episode the hosts ask guests if they learned anything from the other side. The answer was always yes.

I salute these two men for their work on this project. When you have time, give this a listen. You never know; you might be right, you might be wrong, but you will learn something new.

Dan Arp lives in Heiskell, Tennessee


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