‘Liberal Tommy’ comes clean

Larry Van GuilderEar to the Ground, South Knox

Six months ago, the Knox County GOP sent an urgent message to voters in the city’s District 1: Beware of “Liberal Tommy” Smith, the district’s city council representative.

According to the county Republicans, “Liberal Tommy” is too closely ideologically aligned for comfort with the likes of President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris.

Tommy Smith

How rude, injecting partisan politics into the workings of a non-partisan government body! But the GOP undoubtedly took a cue from the U.S. Supreme Court. If the highest court in the land can render decisions redolent of partisan politics, what did the local GOP have to fear from a bit of meddling and name-calling?

While we applaud the GOP’s intentions, it must be said the mailer missed the mark. This reporter’s recent interview of Smith uncovered an ideology that Karl Marx himself might have approved of.

Exhibit 1: “Ninety-five percent of people only care about the half-mile around them,” Smith said.

Consider the life of a Chinese peasant or a Russian farmer of the previous century. Smith’s observation would certainly apply to their circumstances.

Struggling to survive, they would have little time or incentive to look beyond their immediate surroundings. It seems Smith would have Knoxvillians stick to their modest knitting so the all-powerful, all-knowing state can manage the important issues.

Exhibit 2: Smith said one of his goals is to recruit small businesses for Chapman Highway and the Vestal community.

All right-thinking “Amuricans” understand that when government gets involved in business, whether recruiting or regulating, the death of free enterprise is close behind.

I’m reminded of a sign I once saw proudly displayed at a Tea Party rally: “Keep government out of my Social Security!” Tea Party ideology in general may be anathema to council member Smith, but its instincts are sometimes correct and counter to his “liberal” notions.

Exhibit 3: Smith takes an inordinate interest in reducing litter in the city.

What does litter have to do with Smith’s politics? The answer is apparent if you’ve seen photos of the immaculate streets around Red Square in Moscow.

Those pristine byways are evidence of a rigidly controlled society whose members fear the consequences of the slightest step out of line.

But freedom-loving Tennesseans cherish their right to show love for the capitalist system by dumping its many symbols – cups, bags, worn tires or mattresses – wherever they see fit. Nothing says “I love the USA” quite like decorating your neighbor’s lawn with a few McDonald’s hamburger wrappers and drink cups.

Exhibit 4: Continued investment in neighborhood trails and greenways is a Smith priority.

We need only point out that “neighborhood” is code for “cell,” a term well-understood by the council member’s fellow travelers.

The entirety of Smith’s program goes beyond the Knox County GOP’s “liberalism” charge; in fact, it’s downright “socialistic.” However, if his ideas are what socialism is about, I guess I’m on board, just another fellow traveler.

Maybe the Knox County GOP could use a dose of Smith’s politics. Cleaning up litter on county roads might keep the party faithful too busy to meddle in city government,

Larry Van Guilder is a former editor, reporter and columnist for Knox TN Today. He has returned after a lengthy absence.

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