Editor’s note: The following speech by Tennessee Rep. John Ragan was given during a SaturdayÂ grand opening ceremony at the campaign headquarters for business owner Terry Frank, a Clinton Republican who is running for Anderson County mayor.
Over two hundred years ago, our ancestors boldly declared that every citizen stands before the law as an equal. These brave souls wagered their fortunes, their honor and their very lives on the proposition that the Creator endows every person with the same unalienable rights. These patriots recognized that these rights not only include life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, but economic freedom and many other rights, too numerous to mention.
Our founders went on to proclaim that governments exist to secure these rights and derive their just powers from the consent of the governed. Thousands laid down their lives in a bloody and horrific struggle to establish that value. Furthermore, every generation of Americans, from that time to this, has been called upon to send its best into harmâ€™s way to defend our cherished principle of government of the people, by the people, and for the people.
“Consent of the governed” … “government by the people” â€¦ principles that men have willingly died for. However, what do these phrases mean in practical terms? What do they mean today, right here, in Anderson County?
In reality, these words necessitate that every few years, we, the people, have the privilege, and the duty, of coming together to choose from among ourselves who will employ those “just powers” that we cede to government. Exercising that choice is both a burden and a blessing. However, it is one we should embrace enthusiastically and execute with great care. The potential effects of our choices are hugely significant.
We choose people to run a government for us that, of necessity, must interfere with some of our rights. However, it is within our power to limit that interference to the minimum necessary to promote only the common welfare, ensure impartial justice, and establish a reasonable order. Alternately, it is also within our power to choose a government that fosters cronyism, corruption, or ideologies that destroy personal liberty and free enterprise. Which kind of government we get is a function of the values and abilities of the people we choose for office.
We, the people, can elect someone who boldly stands up for what is right â€¦ someone who unambiguously identifies things that are wrong in plain language, even when it may not be popular to do so. On the other hand, we voters can choose someone whose practiced word choices dodge the issues â€¦ someone who tries to present an image of being all things to all people regardless of what is right and wrong.
Many voters are so busy raising a family and earning a living that they cannot properly inform themselves on the issues. A number of them realize this limitation and just don’t vote. Some vote, but rely only on the news media with all of its biases and shortcomings to inform their choices.
Exclusively following either path dishonors the sacrifices of our heroes. These heroes have willingly endured the demands and rigors of military life as well as the privations of foreign lands and combat zones in deserts and jungles. Some have willingly laid “their all” on the Altar of Liberty for us to have this precious privilege. How can we avoid the terrible shame of ignoring or misusing a gift purchased at such a price?
We become advocates for a candidate that we know is honest and stands for the values that have made our county, our state, and our country strong and free. We get out and talk to people, we knock on doors and make phone calls. We put up yard signs and encourage friends and neighbors to vote. We put our money where our mouth is.
We get behind a candidate that proudly stands for what is right and unashamedly identifies what is wrong. A candidate with the ability to run a government that efficiently provides honest services to its citizens at the lowest possible costs.
Today, it is my privilege to endorse such a candidate for Anderson County mayor, Terry Frank.
Ragan is an Oak Ridge Republican completing his first term in the Tennessee House of Representatives.