Letter to the Editor: What happens to a dream deferred? This famous line of poetry was written in 1951 by poet Langston Hughes, but it very well represents what’s at stake in the 2018 race for the 14th Senate District of Tennessee.
Despite its incredible assets, Tennessee has remained a state with a dream deferred. Three distinct regions that helped create the face of modern American music. Massive federal investments like the Tennessee Valley Authority and the Manhattan Project. Home to nine of the world’s largest companies, including FedEx, International Paper, Dollar General, and AutoZone.
In May 2017, USA Today ranked Murfreesboro as the 10th-fastest growing city in the U.S., and in 2016, The Tennessean reported that the 14-county Nashville metro area annually attracted over 30,000 new residents between July 2010 and 2015, more than double the 0.8 percent national growth rate.
Yet recently, U.S. News & World Report ranked Tennessee 39th in its “Best States Report,” and ranked it as follows in these categories: 42nd in health care, 32nd in education, 45th in crime and corrections, 23rd in infrastructure, 37th in opportunity, and 32nd in economy.
The Tennessee of 2018 sits at a crossroad: will it find a way to be part of a resurging global economy, or will it be content to continue with its place in the lower third of the American pack? The answer to that question lies squarely in the kinds of expectations its leaders will set for it.
If government officials set a high bar of expectations for our state, we will at least have a chance to achieve them. But if they settle — and allow us to settle — for the same-old, same-old, Tennessee will continue to exist as a dream deferred.
For too long, we have tolerated a lesser standard, accepted the norm as the norm, and clung tightly to the hope that what we’ve always done will continue to work indefinitely. Here’s the problems with that: misplaced hope invites the acceptance of the fraudulent. Cubic zirconia. Pleather. Saccharine. Margarine (do your homework on that one).
When we settle for these things, we’re left with a weak existence ewe created because we thought reality was too harsh, too expensive, or beyond us. We then accept this existence because it works well enough and doesn’t cost too much at the time. In business strategy, this is known as satisficing: a splicing of the words satisfy and suffice, which means we functionally address the problem but only in a way that temporarily appeases our pain and kicks the can down the road.
To recall a great marketing campaign from decades past, satisficing tastes great, but is less filling, meaning that it eventually costs you much more than you wanted to pay, not now, but in the long run. Yes, it costs plenty to get the real thing. But imitations cost much more in the long run.
Could an entire society be built on such imitations and affect how we think about the world around us and how we think about ourselves? For Tennessee, without question, that answer is YES.
That’s why we need leaders like Shane Reeves representing the 14th District. Reeves is a businessman with a proven track record of success, and he created that success by believing in a set of higher expectations than most politicians have these days.
He knows that you can’t run a household or a business—much less an entire state—with more money going out than coming in. He knows that the free market is the only proven model of economic prosperity, and he also knows that citizens can only participate in that market when they keep more of their earnings and decide for themselves where their dollars are spent. He knows that health is the greatest form of wealth, and that the two concepts are inseparably interconnected. He knows that we need to break the standard Tennessee education mold before we can break the standard Tennessee economic mold.
Think twice about the foundation of your hope. Think about what you believe in, and why you believe it. Think also about your expectations for your future and your expectations for the State of Tennessee.
We can only change who we are if we change what we do. We can only change what we do if we change what we know. We can only change what we know if we change what we believe. And we can only change what we believe if we change our expectations.
Successful people like Shane Reeves radiate high expectations — for themselves, for their businesses, for their communities, and for their state government. Preeminent American businessman and author Max DePree once wrote, “We cannot become what we want to be by remaining what we are.”
While that statement seems pretty obvious, the key that unlocks its power is belief, because people can only move away from what they are by believing they can indeed have, do, and become something greater than what they are. And that belief must be grounded in something that works.
Quite simply, Shane Reeves’ belief system works. He’s been trained by his 20-plus years in the private business sector to solve complex problems and navigate state and federal regulations to create good-paying, high-quality jobs in Middle Tennessee. He knows that a strong family unit is the key to solving many problems pertaining to education, health, community safety, and workforce stability.
In today’s world, belief in these principles requires strength, but that strength is simply a byproduct of one thing: higher expectations. It’s time to set a new bar for Tennessee’s dream with higher expectations we can believe in.
If you have (or want to have) higher expectations for the State of Tennessee, I urge you to vote for Shane Reeves in the upcoming 14th District special election on March 13th.
Colby B. Jubenville,