Community Conversation highlights need for people to vote

Hank Hayes • Aug 29, 2018 at 7:30 PM

KINGSPORT — We are by nature political beings, yet Tennessee ranks at the bottom in voting and voter registration, concerned citizens were told Tuesday at a Kingsport Chamber Community Conversation event to help jump-start democracy.

“People need to vote. We are watching the crumbling of democracy,” Daryl Carter, associate professor of history at East Tennessee State University, told the group.

In addition to the Kingsport Chamber, partners for the event included Humanities Tennessee, Think Tennessee and the Tennessee Press Association.

Attendees talked about the lack of civil discourse in the current political climate; an obligation to vote to honor those who paid the ultimate price for freedom; being able to distinguish between truth and lies; starting a movement to take kids to the polls; and issues like gerrymandering.

“Tennessee Republicans are doing it here and California Democrats are doing it there,” Carter said of gerrymandering.

Carter noted Americans hate politics but are extremely good at doing it.

“I watch my students. It’s only the first few days of the semester, and I’ve had two dozen students emailing me telling me how much they love my class, and it’s their most favorite,” Carter disclosed. “They are thinking about something else down the road. … It’s politics. You just don’t call it that.”

Politics is personal, Carter added. “We do it at every part of our lives,” he said. “ … If I took a poll here in Northeast Tennessee, I would have a bunch of people telling me (current U.S. Rep.) Phil Roe is a bum. The same people will go vote for him. I personally like the congressman. … Most members of Congress are not at risk of being thrown out.”

Carter also pointed out that people have become lazy about their decision-making.

“It’s easier for a lot of people, myself included, to click on the news or social media and find somebody who already confirms what I believe,” Carter concluded.

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