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President Trump to miss the hidden gems in our mountains

Kate Craig • Sep 29, 2018 at 8:00 AM

Far too often, the mountainous region of Northeast Tennessee gets overlooked and overshadowed by the bigger cities and flatter terrain of Nashville, Chattanooga and Memphis. Most mistake Knoxville as being synonymous with Northeast Tennessee.

But those of us here understand Appalachian culture stops long before Knoxville, and and that we’re proud of our heritage and strong work ethic. We have a history of making something out of nothing, and yet our legacy remains unknown to many outside our region. Therefore, the president of the United States coming to our corner of Northeast Tennessee should be a special occasion.

It isn’t often the president visits this region; in fact, the last time was in the late 1970s. True, Air Force One has landed at Tri-Cities Regional Airport several times in the years since the 1970s, but those presidents have strictly used the airport’s runway and airport services — something our region was still proud to do.

Monday, Oct., 1 at 7 p.m., President Trump is scheduled to hold one of his many post 2016 election Make America Great Again campaign rallies, this one in support of Republican candidate for U.S. Senate, Marsha Blackburn. But rather than taking the time to speak with local community leaders, voters, business owners, students, teachers, and religious leaders to learn about the obstacles and concerns local residents face, the president is instead stumping for Marsha Blackburn to boost her numbers and rally the Republican base.

As chair of the Washington County Democratic Party, I am clearly excited by the fact the Blackburn campaign is concerned about their polling numbers in Northeast Tennessee.

That’s indicative of the distaste for the divisiveness found in President Trump’s tweeting, the increased financial insecurity many are facing in the depressed rural areas of Appalachia, as well as the inability for many to afford much needed medical care for themselves and their loved ones. These are the issues President Trump should be here to discuss so that he can effectively represent and advocate for his constituents.

Therefore, I offer this challenge to President Trump, as well as to all the Republican candidates — Marsha Blackburn, Bill Lee, and Phil Roe — participating in the Make America Great Again campaign rally scheduled for Oct. 1:

• Schedule a round table discussion with the Johnson City, Jonesborough, and Washington County commissions to discuss the needs of the people in Washington County, Tennessee;

• Schedule a round table discussion with the Johnson City Chamber of Commerce to discuss obstacles businesses, namely small businesses are facing especially after the 2017 Republican Tax Plan eliminated many tax deductible items that eased the burden on small business owners as well as the fear regarding the tariffs on international trade;

• Schedule a round table discussion with progressive leaders in Washington County because the side of the aisle shouldn’t matter because we are all Tennesseans and we are all Americans;

• Tour our beautiful region to better understand why people from all over the world flock to the Smoky Mountains to hike the Appalachian Trail; spend some time on Watauga Lake, understand the struggle and regrowth after the TVA built Watauga Dam that flooded the Town of Butler and spawned the new Town of Butler; walk through one of the nation’s top ranked covered bridges in Elizabethton; and take in some blue grass music at the Down Home in Johnson City — a venue that musicians for decades have requested performed in due to the perfect acoustics.

This should be an exciting moment in our history — the president of the United States is making a stop in Johnson City; instead, it’s only causing chaos. Plummeting polling numbers have left him, and the Republicans clinging to his coattails, grasping at straws as they search for wins on Nov. 6. Thank goodness Gov. Bredesen and the rest of the Democrats up and down the ticket aren’t mirroring their opponents’ actions or rhetoric, but instead are talking to all of their constituents and seeking to find ways to unite the state and unite our country.

Kate Craig of Johnson City leads the Washington County Democratic Party.



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