Dear Mr. Wamp,
My name is Michele Peterson and we’ve never met.
Yet, for the last few years I have been steadily watching your coming of age political story and listening to your generational messages.
As an entrepreneur I like to think of myself as progressive; I also am so very proud to call myself a Chattanoogan.
No matter where I am in my country, I find myself bringing Chattanooga with me. Constantly talking and bragging about the richness of culture and business found here, and talking about the wonderful people, the beautiful not-so-far-away mountain trails and the eclectic mix of traditional values with a subversive downtown cultural flair.
And although my soul-home is reverently Johnson City, Tn, alongside my vernacular and my Appalachian good sense, my business savvy was sparked and is still being honed by the generational impressiveness of entrepreneurial knowledge and friendship, of and with past Chattanoogans, both male and female, both black and white.
After all, very few mid-size cities can brag about being one of the first southern cities to integrate its police force, well before any other cities even contemplated this notion. All while a Knoxville Jewish newspaper transplant is reporting on this prophetically-wonderful coming of age integration city police story, having only a half century beforehand been given his own entrepreneurial publishing opportunity by a local Presbyterian financier.
And back in the sixties when women were not even being considered for many leadership roles, let alone publisher positions, this same local newspaper was being led by this printers devil’s granddaughter.
Funny enough Weston, at times Chattanooga might still represent all that is wrong about the “good ole boy south”, yet our region has demonstrated time and time again that no one can really ever judge a book by its cover, not even Walter Cronkite.
I, like you, was heavily influenced by the presence of hard work all around me as a young person. Whether by watching my government-employed mother or my entrepreneurial independent truck driver father get up every morning to make my fifty foot by hundred and forty foot lot on Rolling Hills Drive a better place (both in deed and in measure), so I might be watered just enough to go out and make my world a better place; or by watching my grandmothers pour their hearts and souls into my generationally-infused, ever growing tachometer.
I, like you I surmise, was expected to go and do good things for other folks. And I try to respect all my generations in hopes my impartial and impactful examples will develop through me, rather than against me.
I remember running into your father many times over, on the Atlanta plane mostly, as he made his way back and forth from Washington DC; and he always struck me as a hard-worker; someone who if given a chance to do something is going to try to do it right and give it his all.
I have a lot of respect for these intentionally placed values.
I also remember the first and only letter I wrote your father several years back when he made the very generational-congressional decision to come out of the homophobic political-religious cash register in favor of the notion that all gay folks are going to Hell; a distinctly, but not necessarily needed exclamation on his part in this mostly all-male, elder dominated, Republican Third Congressional District.
Because after all, we live where God, Country, College Football and Guns (not necessarily in this pecking order) are just a part of everyday speak and everyday declaration-ism, and if you’re not more kin to Rhett Butler than Ashley Wilkes; well, you’re not quite up to snuff.
In your best efforts you just fell for the oldest trick in the book, overreaching for the sake of fear-grouping and intolerance.
And although in your heart of hearts you knew the Rick Sanatorium endorsement wouldn’t help you get the young cross-over voters you needed to win your republican primary, you decided to let your generational powers-that-be talk you into this very isolating decision anyways.
I also remember seeing you on TV several years ago and wondering to myself what kind of leader you might be called to be, especially on the social fabric issues of our current day?
Wondering if the “absolutist’s vision” of your father’s past might be placed in your political cash register? Wondering if you might think the hot button social issues of the day are worthy of so much attention by our country’s legislature (a notion I talked about in my letter to your father). And wondering if you too might follow in the direction of religious, non-inclusive, defensive sensationalism in order to corral fear, money and voters?
Constitutional rights, whether right or wrong, must be led and started with a judicial, yet somewhat turbid, estuary. Not led by common tribalistic tendencies but rather a fundamental knowledge of process. Thomas Jefferson knew this, I’m just not sure you understand why and how he knew it?
In other words, sometimes we lose and sometimes we win and as long as the game is played with intellectual-intention and non-emotional, non-monetized character then even if you lose, by simply not trying to win at all costs, you actually win. Then we all become better winners, losers and leaders in the end. A notion held intrinsic to our country’s very survival and established by the two most important founding fathers we have, Adams and Jefferson.
I suspect also a notion held by you, that is, until you decided to let your fear of loss so dictate your judgement that you recorded a not-needed-to-win reaffirmation of Pa-Paw Mayfield’s endorsement intentions. A decision, in my mind, cost you your primary.
Now we will see what kind of leader you are made out to be…
With Earnest Regards,
“A Work in Progress Citizen”