Maskless in Nashville: Two Parties Attend Tennessee GOP Dinner

August 1, 2021 Updated: August 2, 2021


I attended the annual Statesmen’s Dinner of the Tennessee Republican Party Saturday night, the first in two years since 2020’s was postponed due to the pandemic.

The most striking thing about the event was the surprisingly large size of the crowd. 1400 plates were sold, which made it, according to the woman in charge of such matters, the largest public dinner in the country since COVID.

I can’t vouch for this claim, but there certainly were a lot of people in the banquet room of the Music City Center—not a single one of them, that I could see, wearing a mask or anything similar (other than some of the servers).

I guess there wasn’t too much fear of the new bogeyman, the Delta variant, that’s been causing a certain amount of confusion lately. Apparently, even the White House doesn’t know if there’s a test for it. And although it is reported to be virulent, as are most viruses as they mutate to survive, it is also similarly less lethal.

(While we’re on the inescapable topic of the pandemic, I highly recommend Alex Berenson’s just published “On vaccines, lies, and Auschwitz.”)

Even given the exceptional attendance, I had a mixed reaction to the event that featured speeches by virtually every Tennessee Republican heavyweight, among them Governor Bill Lee, Senators Marsha Blackburn and Bill Hagerty, Rep. Mark Green, Tennessee House Speaker Cameron Sexton, party chairman Scott Golden, all along with keynote speaker House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy.

They even brought out of retirement multi-term senator and Bush 43 secretary of education Lamar Alexander to wrap up the event.

The speeches were good, hit most of the marks—Blackburn was particularly fiery—but most had a kind of “by the numbers” quality about them and made you remember, if you needed any help, what a great speaker Trump was and is.

For McCarthy—and most everyone else, for justifiable reasons—the goal of goals for the evening was the replacement of Nancy Pelosi… by McCarthy.

The elephant in the room, however—the increasingly contested election of 2020—was only tangentially alluded to, as if it were too risky to speak about in detail.

That other bête noire of Republicans, Critical Race Theory, was mentioned multiple times but not with the fervor you could find in many Tennessee venues where moms and dads are outraged by the communist propaganda being force fed their children in red state schools.

We are in crunch time in America, with the country deciding whether to go yet further left to totalitarian “isms,” if not there already, or back to our freedom-oriented founding—and maybe I didn’t read the room correctly, but I sensed a level of disappointment.

These people wanted to be inspired, to be on their feet more than they were, shouting and clapping more, and not have the sense they were just punching the ticket for another annual event to fatten party coffers.

That—I submit—is why so many of them showed up. (That and who doesn’t want to get out these days?)

The essence of the problem, in Tennessee and across the country, is that there are still two Republican parties that haven’t fully reconciled. Call them the old guard and the MAGA people. You could also call it Bush v. Trump.

The old guard think the MAGA people are just a bit too rowdy—we might also say indecorous or perhaps uneducated—although they need Trump’s army in order to win.

Meaning no disrespect—I admire the man—Lamar Alexander exemplifies that old guard and did the other night, calling for a middle of the road approach to everything that may have been justifiable a while back, but ran its course some time ago. Times have changed—bigly, as someone said.

You don’t fight Pelosi, Schiff, AOC, Rashida Tlaib, Ilhan Omar, the mainstream media gang, the Marxist professorate, Hollywood (need I go on?) via “business as usual.” They are about as interested in “business as usual” as most of us are in stomach cancer.

You hear talk in the grass roots these days that Republicans should adopt a little Alinsky of their own—not straight on ends-justify-the-means criminal Alinsky, but at least some of his willingness to fight and keep fighting until only one of us is standing.

Allowing them to win, even a little bit, is the direct road to Soviet America.

Robert Conquest—the historian of Stalinism and one of my personal heroes—explained the danger of the middle-of-the-road approach when he wrote years ago in the second of his Three Laws of Politics:

Any organization not explicitly and constitutionally right-wing will sooner or later become left-wing.”

History has borne him out.

Lastly, while I am in the mood of recommending terrific articles by others, have a look at “It’s the Liberalism, Stupid” by Liel Leibovitz over at Tablet.

Roger L. Simon is an award-winning novelist, Oscar-nominated screenwriter, co-founder of PJMedia, and now, editor-at-large for The Epoch Times. His most recent books are “The GOAT” (fiction) and “I Know Best: How Moral Narcissism Is Destroying Our Republic, If It Hasn’t Already” (nonfiction). He can be found on Parler as @rogerlsimon.

Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.

Roger L. Simon
Roger L. Simon
Roger L. Simon is an award-winning novelist, Oscar-nominated screenwriter, co-founder of PJMedia, and now, editor-at-large for The Epoch Times. His most recent books are “The GOAT” (fiction) and “I Know Best: How Moral Narcissism Is Destroying Our Republic, If It Hasn’t Already” (nonfiction). He can be found on GETTR and Parler @rogerlsimon.