Dear Gov. Lee:
This letter represents the leadership of the undersigned Republican county organizations from across Southern Middle Tennessee. Its purpose is to plead with you to do two things immediately: (1) Change course with respect to your response to the COVID-19 crisis, repealing all restrictions on businesses and gatherings of any kind, whether these are direct restrictions (e.g., executive orders) or indirect ones (e.g., rhetoric regarding Health Department enforcement); and (2) to end the recess of the Legislature.
We begin by pointing out that good people can disagree about some, maybe most of the responses to this ordeal. The reaction depends in large part on one’s source for news, including government sources of information. We all can agree that those voices have been varied, from one extreme to the other, and the common person is left wondering who to believe. This confusion is brought into real and hard focus when the person’s livelihood is put on hold or destroyed altogether. Even for those who have not lost a business or employment, seeing one’s community shuttered is unreal, even post-apocalyptic. This is no exaggeration.
We agree that you have done your best. It’s fair to say that no governor enjoys the full support of his/her people in terms of their state’s response to this issue. Having said that, the leadership of these Republican County parties believes strongly that the State of Tennessee needs to take the lead, unique from all other states, in putting this matter behind us for good.
There is strong medical opinion that we have now reached a point where there should be limited and, in most areas, no restrictions on contact. The six-foot rule, something that has hamstrung restaurants, for example, is not backed by science according to a host of reputable doctors. The limitation on public gatherings to 10 persons not only hurts us economically, but as human beings. We are social creatures and always have been.
But more than that, we are the People. And the People are able to govern themselves. We do not need at this point any more hand-holding from the government. Even the World Health Organization seems to agree with us. Puckett’s in Columbia, for example, can decide for itself how to manage its restaurant, good or bad. Patrons can decide whether to eat there. But somewhere along the way we decided that only government knows best. We’re now reminded that’s not true. The People have opinions, and a voice. Gov. Lee, let the marketplace decide, let individuals decide, what they want to do with their lives. This is still a free country. You have the power to end all of this immediately, recognizing that the People can best govern their lives — even in this situation.
As to our second point, the People’s voice in Nashville is our State Legislature. Even if you disagree with our position about ending all restrictions immediately, the People have a right to have their voices heard in Nashville during this critical time. Therefore, we’re asking that you bring the Legislature back from recess immediately. In this critical time, I’m sure you agree that the People, even if their government disagrees, have the right to be heard.
Gov. Lee, we have been your faithful supporters — and we are asking for your help. Lead the way and remind other states why America is fundamentally different in its approach and ideas about government than any other country in the world. For our part, Tennessee has always been known as “The Volunteer State.” That statement has always spoken to the role and decisions of the individual. It’s time we once again live up to that name by ending these restrictions and giving back our voice in Nashville.
S. Jason Whatley, Maury County Republican Party Chairman
Susan Curlee, Lawrence County Republican Party Chairman
Chris Morris, Giles County Republican Party Chairman
Julie Quan, Marshall County Republican Party Vice-Chairman
Mary Tackett, Lincoln County Republican Party, Chairman
Richard Brooks, Coffee County Republican Party Chairman
Daniel Walcott, Perry County Republican Party Chairman
Johnny Heard, Wayne County Republican Party Chairman