On Friday’s Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy – broadcast on Nashville’s Talk Radio 98.3 and 1510 WLAC weekdays from 5:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m. – Leahy welcomed guest host and Nashville Tea Party founder Ben Cunningham to the show.
During the third hour, Cunningham called for people to revisit discussions raised by the Tea Party movement and talk about what the role of our government is and why not to sit by and let them do the thinking for us. He urged people to raise their voices and to be part of the conversation at the local, state and federal levels.
Leahy: We are joined now for the last half hour of this program and of the week our good friend, all-star panelist, and the official guest host of The Tennessee Star Report the President and Founder of the Nashville Tea Party Ben Cunningham. Good morning Ben.
Cunningham: Michael good morning! How are you?
Leahy: I’m looking forward to that aspirational day. I call it in studio freedom day. (Laughter) It’s aspirational. We have to make sure that we’re ok with all of the governor’s plans and the mayor’s plans and the iHeart Media official policy. But we have an aspirational day for in-studio freedom of Monday, May 4 where we will be able to have all of our all-star panelists, one at a time, in the studio here.
Ben, I am putting together your official Tennessee Star Report hazmat suit (Laughter) so you can come to the studio. We’ll have an N-95 mask for you. We’ll have gloves. Our microphones are about three and a half feet away. They can be extended. I was talking with Crom Carmichael about this where we can extend them back so we’ll be about six feet apart. We’ll take a picture of it when we’re officially approved.
We’re hoping that all goes well that in-studio freedom day will be two weeks from Monday, May 4. I’ve been suffering Ben from studio fever. It’s sort of like cabin fever when you’re in the studio alone and used to having in-studio guests. So, I’m looking forward to that day.
Cunningham: I think this is going to give the psychologists many years of studies to see how this has affected us all. I’m sure it’s affected us in many ways that we don’t understand. And of course our good friends the politicians we don’t realize how many politicians are out there until they all start telling us what to do. (Leahy laughs) They have pretty much based on faulty computer models at the beginning pretty much destroyed the economy.
And that’s not a laughing matter. These folks have brought the economy to a grinding halt. They were all concerned about the threat of the coronavirus but it really is the time for us as citizens to really think long and hard about our relationship to our government.
That’s what we did in the Tea Party movement a lot and I think its time to return to those discussions. What is the role of government? Do we simply allow them to pat us on our little citizen heads and say you people go home, we’ll take care of it. We’ll listen to the experts but we don’t need to listen to you. Well, they do need to listen to us. And we have got to raise our voices and be a part of this conversation at the state, federal, and local levels.
Leahy: You wrote a letter to the governor along those lines the other day and you said, “I’m asking you to immediately lay out a plan to quickly restore economic and personal freedom and trust. And trust the people of Tennessee to be capable of living as free people.” Did the governor reply to your letter?
Cunningham: No. (Leahy laughs) I don’ t even know if he’s read it.
Leahy: I’m shocked! I’m shocked! (Cunnigham laughs) It’s interesting. I’ve been a critic of these blunt instruments of the statewide shutdowns of non-essential businesses. This state-wide stay at home businesses when we have maybe 10 of our counties have a coronavirus problem. 85 of our 95 counties don’t have a problem.
Four counties don’t have a single case of coronavirus and yet the governor is exercising the authority granted to him under certain laws passed by the Tennessee General Assembly has shutdown basically the entire state. It doesn’t make a lot of sense to me, and yet that’s what the governor has done.
Cunningham: Nor me. And in situations like this, the politicians tend to judge us citizens by the lowest common denominator of behavior. And that’s a problem. That’s a real problem. That’s an invitation to tyranny. We have got to raise our voices and tell him we are free citizens. We have intelligence and the ability to judge risk.
And we probably have a much better ability to judge risk. Your little Nashville sphere of influence and you ought to look as you say to the people outside in these counties. Do you have a problem? OK. Let’s address it. If you don’t have a problem then let’s get back to work.
Cunningham: And get this economy back. It’s going to take years. We are certainly facing a major recession level dip in economic levels. And we may, in fact, be facing a depression. We just don’t know at this point.
Leahy: Ben, a number of people around the country and some in Tennessee have decided that its time to take the protest to the streets. I’m sure that they’ll have advice on following the social distancing guidelines. There will be a free Tennessee event at the state capitol this Sunday from one to three.
Then I think there will be events around the state and a big event on Monday the 27 for this Free Tennessee group. Did you see by the way the horn honking protest on Wednesday the 15 in Lansing, Michigan? It was largely people driving around.
There were a few that were people walking but it was mostly people were in their cars. protesting the unconstitutional executive orders of Gretchen Whitmer. The Democrat governor of Michigan. You can’t go to your second home. You can’t buy car seats. You can’t buy seeds. You can’t do all that sort of stuff. What did you make of the government’s reaction to those protests on Wednesday in Michigan?
Cunningham: Well the governor as far as I can tell just went into full defensive mode. Of course, they always say they have the safety of the populous in mind. Of course, that’s always the cry. We heard it with Don Sundquist when he was implementing the state income tax. Don Sundquist got elected. This was a governor back in 1999 when we had all the big income tax protests and he got elected saying I’m not going to impose an income tax. He got elected.
He stopped listening to the people. He started listening to the experts saying we can’t possibly get along as a state without more revenue because TennCare is going to kill the budget. And he stopped listening to the people and he started listening to the experts. Well, the people kind of took issue with that and we had about two years of running protests down there at the capitol. And Don Sundquist never changed his mind of course.
But the legislators did and we defeated the income tax. And believe me, I just want people to realize that their voices can and will be heard if they raise their voices. Email the governor. [email protected] Email the governor. Tell him what you think.
If you work downtown at one of the honky-tonks and you want to get back to work email the governor and tell him. Express your opinion and get involved and make your voice heard. That is what government is all about. They are supposed to respond to us. They are not supposed to lead us around by the nose like little children. We as citizens have got involved and raise our voices if we are going to be part of the solution.
Leahy: Kim Edwards is a mom of three in Nashville who I think is organizing this. We’re going to try and get her on as a guest. If I have any suggestions for them to consider I would consider doing the horn honking approach in your car driving around the capital as opposed to just being there in person.
They will be wearing face masks probably. But I think the horn honking thing takes away the criticism of the left who say we don’t respect the orders. I think it’s well suited to having the impact and attention pouring out the overreach of these executive orders. What’s your thought on horn honking versus in person.
Cunningham: Well, I’m not really concerned about the left and what they think. (Leahy laughs)
Leahy: That’s a good one. That’s a good point, Ben.
Cunningham: They are always going to be opportunistic in these situations to increase the power of government. We see it in California, in New York and Michigan. But you are right. We’ve got to be intelligent and reasonable about this. It is safe. You raise your voice and have it heard. And goodness gracious, if you don’t do anything else, come down between one o’clock and three o’clock this Sunday.
Leahy: It can be done.
Listen to the full third hour here:
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Tune in weekdays from 5:00 – 8:00 a.m. to the Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy on Talk Radio 98.3 FM WLAC 1510. Listen online at iHeart Radio.
Background Photo “Tennessee Capitol” by FaceMePLS. CC BY 2.0.