By Rosetta Miller-Perry

NASHVILLE, TN — Through politics, some citizens make decisions but there are far too many white men who have political and personal power and control the lives of many US citizens as they gain the ability to influence people so that they will have more material wealth.  

Politics is supposed to be about public service, yet far too many politicians   serve in their own narrow ideologies to increase their bank accounts. We have a group of elected officials in Washington, as well as our governor, who believe that they were elected to be acolytes and servants of a disgraced former President who doesn’t pay taxes and stands accused of multiple instances of sexual misconduct.  

Tennessee also has a Republican super majority in the state legislature whose idea of important legislation is going after drag shows and  passing laws to prevent teaching critical race theory in schools where it wasn’t being taught in the first place.  They do not  address  the affordable housing crisis, expanding economic opportunity for all its citizens, improving infrastructure, or any numerous other important things.  Why?  Because they think it only benefits Blacks and Hispanics.

Fortunately, while Nashville may not have anyone in Washington or the gerrymandered state legislature representing us, the city had one representative who cares. Since his election in in 2008 as the U.S. Representative for Tennessee’s 5th Congressional District,  Jim Cooper has made Nashville’s neighborhoods his main priority, and unlike many of his fellow legislators has focused on ALL neighborhoods. Last week he did more for this city than most of our state politicians (Black Democrats excepted) have in their entire careers.

He announced that $17,969,000 in Community Project Funding he previously secured for Middle Tennesseans in the House spending bills had been included in the final 2023 government funding package. This funding responds directly to some of the most pressing community needs in Nashville.“I am proud to have secured $18 million that I know meets long overdue community needs in Middle Tennessee,” Rep. Cooper said. “These projects are vital to making Nashville a more inclusive and equitable city while growing our community.”

President Biden has now signed the bill into law. Of course, the Republicans who are taking over next month in the House attacked it. Of course, our GOP Trump stooges opposed it. But the wonderful thing is this money will be coming to Tennessee and a host of vital things will happen as a direct result of Congressman Coopers actions.

Here they are in detail:

• $4,000,000 Fisk University John R. Lewis Center for Social Justice – Race Relations Building

• $480,000 Matthew Walker Comprehensive Health Center Inc. for facilities and equipment

• $539,000 Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County for an Urban Forestry Project

• $2,200,000 Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County for facilities and equipment

• $2,500,000 Moves & Grooves Center for Art & Innovation

• $2,000,000 Operation Stand Down Building Better Facility to Eliminate Veteran Homelessness

• $3,000,000 Tennessee State University Harned Hall Biological Sciences Research Building Renovation

• $500,000 Tennessee State University for a new program to expand opportunities for students to attend                                                                      college and prepare independent living and employment

• $750,000 United Neighborhood Health Services dba Neighborhood Health for facilities and equipment

• $2,000,000 University Community Health Services, Inc. for facilities and equipment

The diversity of this list is impressive, and the range of places affected widespread. The Tribune wants to cite and credit Rep. Cooper for ignoring the narrow, often racist approach of the state Republican Party and recognizing the needs of North Nashville and the Black community among his priorities.

 He has been fair and ethical in his dealings and has not overlooked one part of the state to service another or tried to pit the rural counties against the urban metropolises, another familiar tactic of many Tennessee white Republicans.

Rep. Cooper has repeatedly shown his desire to help ALL people and institutions of Nashville, something we honestly cannot say is true for either the current Republican legislative delegation in Washington or the supermajority in the state house and the governor who run (or more accurately mismanage) this state as some have said.

We are grateful Rep. Cooper was in the House of Representatives and we take this occasion to salute and thank him for his courage, integrity, and fairness. They are rare traits in politics, both nationally and locally, and are especially lacking in too many of those who claim to be representing our state.

Sadly, when he announced he wouldn’t run for re-election he also told the hard truth about the state GOP. Though he’d served for 32 years and most likely could have won another run, Cooper was dismayed at what he saw the Republicans doing to this state and to Nashville and spoke out about it.

“Despite my strength at the polls, I could not stop the General Assembly from dismembering Nashville,” Cooper said. “No one tried harder to keep our city whole. I explored every possible way including lawsuits to stop the gerrymandering and to win one of the three new congressional districts that now circle Nashville. There’s no way, at least for me in this election cycle, but there may be a path for other worthy candidates.”

The Tennessee Tribune seriously doubts that anyone who doesn’t embrace the backward, reactionary agenda of the state’s current Republican Party, who’s still maintaining its faithful allegiance to a corrupt, unethical and borderline criminal former president  can win election now. That’s a sad and pathetic commentary on the disgraceful state of the 21st century Tennessee politics.

But we thank Rep. Jim Cooper. You are a man of impeccable character and will be sorely missed.