By Sen. Lamar Alexander
Last week, some well-meaning Tennesseans wrote a letter suggesting that I “retire with dignity” from the United States Senate because of a record of ‘compromise and bipartisanship, two traits for which you have become famous.’
Ever since walking 1,000 miles across our state, I’ve listened carefully to the 6 million Tennesseans I’m elected to represent. So the letter deserves respect and this response: I appreciate the suggestion, but if the people of Tennessee will allow it, I’d rather continue to serve — hopefully, with dignity.
Our country’s on the wrong track. Our state’s on the right track. So the logical way to get our country on the right track is to transport some of Tennessee’s common sense to Washington, D.C.
One good way to do that is to send to Washington a conservative, problem-solving former Tennessee governor with a record of getting results: Auto jobs. Better schools. Better roads. Balanced budgets. Low taxes. Low debt.
Washington needs more, not fewer, conservatives who know how to govern. Governing means listening, standing up for what you believe in and solving problems to get a result. I did that as governor. I’m doing that as senator. I’m proud of that record.
Remember how Ronald Reagan told the air traffic controllers, ‘If you strike, I’ll fire you’? And they did. And then, he did.
President Reagan was a good example of a conservative who knew how to govern. He stood up to the air traffic controllers — and he worked with Congress to cut taxes, save Social Security, and strengthen defense.
In a letter last week to Tennessee Republicans, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee said: ‘Like Ronald Reagan, Lamar knows how to govern with conservative principles, and he uses this experience to get results.’
The auto jobs, better roads and better schools that came to Tennessee while I was governor didn’t come, because I did it all myself. I stood up to the unions — and I worked with the legislature to get results.
And I don’t know many Tennesseans who don’t like those results — who’d want to give back those jobs and roads and schools. As senator, I’ve tried to govern in the same way.
I stood up to President Obama at the White House health-care summit.
I helped block the president’s unconstitutional labor board nominees.
I’m leading the fight against his national school board.
Last month, I helped to enact a market-based plan that reduced interest rates on loans for 200,000 Tennessee students going to college this fall.
I’m passing legislation to make sure the terrible tragedy that caused so many Tennesseans to get sick and die from fungal meningitis never happens again.
In June, my “Freedom to Fish” law stopped an outrageous Washington overreach that would have denied Tennesseans the right to fish below our dams. (If you’re not a fisherman and you’re wondering about this, 900,000 Tennesseans with fishing licenses understand it perfectly.)
I couldn’t do all these things myself. I worked with others to get results.
I’m doing my best to balance the federal budget and fix the debt that’s bankrupting our country. I know how to do that. I did it in Tennessee — and I’m using the same common-sense Tennessee values in Washington.
Sen. Bob Corker and I have introduced a plan to reduce runaway entitlement spending by a trillion dollars. We’ve made speeches. But that’s not enough. We need a result. We need to solve the problem.
How do we do that?
Well, I learned to count in Maryville City Schools. So I know that if you only have 45 votes and you need 60 senators to get something important done like balancing the budget and fixing the debt, then you have to work with other people — that is, IF you really care about solving the problem, IF you really want to get a result, instead of just making a speech.
That’s why I believe that one good way to put our country on the right track is to send to Washington a conservative, problem-solving former governor who worked well with others to get the results that put our state on the right track.
And why, if the people of Tennessee will allow it, I’d rather continue to serve in the United States Senate.
Republican Lamar Alexander is Tennessee’s senior senator.