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Tennessee editorial roundup

November 14, 2018

Recent editorials from Tennessee newspapers:

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Nov. 10

The Tennessean on several things Marsha Blackburn should consider as she heads to the Senate:

Dear Sen.-elect Blackburn:

Congratulations on your victory.

The U.S. Senate campaign in Tennessee was expensive, negative and divisive, but now you have the opportunity for a reset.

We urge you to seize it and help lead Tennesseans to a better future.

Issues including immigration, sexual harassment and public trust dominated negative campaign ads and soured civil discourse.

Tennesseans need to get past the rancor and heal divisions, and we hope you will lead it.

It will not be easy.

This state has deep pockets of red and two bubbles of deep blue. The political party divisions create barriers to understanding and healthy debate.

Toxic rhetoric has engendered distrust of our institutions, created confusion over what is fact and fiction, and has fueled angry reactionaryism on one extreme and resistance on the other.

We need to focus now on the issues most important to Tennesseans.

Those issues include the economy, health care and jobs.

They spurred 60 percent of Tennessee voters to vote for Donald Trump as president in 2016.

Despite his frequent rhetorical hyperbole, Trump remains popular in Tennessee.

However, there are some issues still causing heartache two years after his election:

—Gaps in affordable health insurance

—Underperforming veterans hospitals

—Closures or downsizing of rural hospitals

...

There have been steps taken to help address many of these issues, but more needs to be done.

At the same time, a U.S. senator must have broader conversations about the U.S.’s role in the world and involvement in war and conflicts; the growing debt and deficits; stewardship of interstate environmental treasures and resources; and, yes, immigration policy.

The U.S. Senate is a deliberative body designed to allow for careful, civil debate on serious issues of the day.

Tennessee’s U.S. senior Sen. Lamar Alexander recently shared with The Tennessean his assessment of multiple examples of how bipartisan cooperation has delivered solutions from the opioid epidemic to fair pay for songwriters.

At a recent luncheon for the Tennessee World Affairs Council, retiring Sen. Bob Corker said U.S. institutions are strong and the country is working as it should despite the president’s tweets.

However, many Americans think Congress is broken and the majority is acquiescing to the president as opposed to acting as a check on his authority.

While it is logical that political parties would push the government in one ideological direction, the U.S. Constitution established three separate, but equal, branches of government to keep watch on one another.

This will be especially important in a Congress that will now by dominated by Republicans in the Senate and Democrats in the House.

Regarding the judicial branch, there may be opportunities in the near future to come to debate and confirm more U.S. Supreme Court justices.

A more civil process should take effect than the one demonstrated with the confirmation of new Associate Justice Brett Kavanaugh.

Tennessee historically has been a state that has produced moderate senators who serve as the conscience of the nation.

However, the state’s politics overall have changed and become more right-leaning over the years, something you noted in your victory speech: “Tennesseans want a conservative U.S. senator who wants to take Tennessee values and put them to work for you in Washington, D.C.”

You also graciously thanked your opponent, former Gov. Phil Bredesen, and promised to keep your door open to him and his supporters.

Your election as the first woman to serve Tennessee in the U.S. Senate is historic and gives you a unique opportunity to craft a new course.

You said during your victory speech that you will continue to help President Donald Trump build a border wall. We also encourage you to build bridges to diverse communities around Tennessee as well.

Online: https://www.tennessean.com/

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Nov. 13

The Daily Times of Maryville on the importance of voting:

The midterms are over. We finally got a reprieve from those depressing election commercials and mailings. Judging by the extremes that candidates resort to demean opponents, it’s fair to ask: Have they no shame? Consider that a rhetorical question.

The pertinent question is this: Did you vote?

For those who didn’t, a common justification is because their vote won’t make a difference. Chalk that up as an excuse for apathy.

Votes do matter. Take last week when two candidates for Alcoa City Commission went to bed not knowing if they’d won or lost. Ballots had Mayor Don Mull leading Tanya Henderson Martin by a single vote. ... With a total of six more absentee votes than Mull, Martin was elected by a margin that can be counted on one hand.

Given that Mull has served as an Alcoa commissioner since 1971 and mayor since 1983, and that Martin will be the first African-American woman ever elected to serve on the Alcoa City Commission, that five-vote margin is historic.

At the national level, attention focused on the unusually high voter turnout for the midterms. Politicians and handlers sharpened their barbs to poke at their respective bases, and the bases responded.

As updated Sunday by the United States Election Project, an information source for the U.S. electoral system based at the University of Florida, the turnout rate for the 2018 General Election is predicted to be 49.1 percent. That’s an educated guess, realizing that the results are not yet certified and votes are still being counted in some places.

That would put the projected total ballots around 115,662,500 — the first time an American midterm election has exceeded 100 million votes. The last time the percentage of eligible Americans voting in a midterm reached 49 percent was 1966. Both were good years for voting participation, but the number of voters remained fewer than the no-shows.

How far do we have to look to find a majority of eligible voters taking part in a midterm? That would be 104 years ago, four years before the armistice was signed in 1918 that officially ended World War I — the date we celebrated Sunday as Veterans Day.

An estimated 116,708 military personnel died in World War I. Battlefield deaths by American soldiers in all wars is estimated at around 660,000. But even that is not enough to get most eligible Americans to vote in a midterm election. Or as some might put it, to take the trouble to vote.

Over many years, hundreds of thousands of American gave their lives so fellow citizens could exercise their rights to vote. These patriots took the trouble and made the sacrifice.

It is the height of arrogance for anyone to say they don’t vote because their ballot will not determine the winner. Who elected them the decider for the rest of us?

Considering there are so many — most actually — who just don’t care, maybe they’re right. Maybe their communities, states and nation are better off without their votes. An uninformed vote is worse than no vote at all.

Online: https://www.thedailytimes.com/

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Nov. 13

Kingsport Times News on modifying hospital names:

Branding is important, not only because of the impression it makes on consumers but in giving them a sense of what they can expect, as Ballad Health demonstrates.

Residents of Northeast Tennessee and Southwest Virginia may have expected big Ballad Health signs to pop up throughout the region on the hospitals that it operates. That’s the typical approach that big organizations take when they pick up other businesses.

But that’s not the direction Ballad has chosen. That’s not its stated focus for its hospitals, large and small. Ballad said it wants to serve communities, and that’s what motivated its branding as the result of its creation by merging the Wellmont and Mountain States hospital groups.

The former Mountain State’s Indian Path Medical Center just got a name change to Indian Path Community Hospital. Mountain View Regional Medical Center in Norton has become Mountain View Regional Hospital; Russell County Medical Center in Lebanon is now Russell County Hospital; and Unicoi County Memorial Hospital has changed its name to just Unicoi County Hospital.

Ballad said the name changes intend to “reflect both their important roles within the health system and their deep ties to the communities they serve.”

“Being part of Ballad Health means these community hospitals are part of an integrated system that includes a children’s hospital, trauma care, and access to some of the nation’s leading care in highly specialized services. But because Ballad Health is governed by people who live in this region with deep ties to the community, we also believe strongly in the role of rural hospitals as community assets contributing to Ballad Health’s strength,” said Eric Deaton, Ballad Health’s senior vice president of market operations.

“Because of this, we are happy to announce that all our hospital names will continue to reflect their deep connections with the communities they serve.”

Rather than changing every hospital name to Ballad Health, it was determined that the system would instead adopt a standard naming convention that incorporates each facility’s existing name and identity within the community, the merged hospital system noted.

In order to help patients throughout the region easily navigate the health system and identify the breadth of services offered in each location, the term “medical center” will now be used only in the names of Ballad Health’s three tertiary facilities, reflecting common practices among other health systems nationally.

Smart move.

Online: http://www.timesnews.net/

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