If anything in this town epitomizes the establishment, it is Leadership Knoxville. Ostensibly an organization to indoctrinate those deemed worthy enough to be invited to participate on government, process and politics. For a few years now, Leadership Knoxville has held a school for candidates.
For a mere $50, prospective candidates got lunch and discourses from successful politicians, consultants, and at least one lobbyist. Of course lobbyists are a necessary evil for most candidates; if money is the milk of politics, lobbyists are the cows.
Leadership Knoxville is supposed to be non-political and the symposium was held at the United Way building. United Way is supposed to be utterly non-political as well, but a meeting has to be held somewhere.
Even the venerable editor of the News Sentinel was one of the speakers at the candidate school.
The school was careful to give at least the semblance of non-partisanship, having the odd Democrat here and there. The establishment, whether Democrat or Republican, have a lot of shared interests. The Republicans like corporate welfare every bit as much as Democrats like the welfare state. They all talk like they are for the forgotten middle class, but they all like taxes, because they all like spending other people’s money, as well as making a little for themselves and their friends.
The school for prospective candidates, I will grant you, was a really good idea for it is nothing less than a recruitment school. It is something like a party for debutants before the real thing. It gives the establishment powers-that-be the opportunity to look over the possible candidates, just which of them have the best poise, clever answers, and probably which have the most malleable minds.
With the election season fast approaching, we are very likely to see some of these folks on the ballot after the first of the year. You’ll know which of the prospects made the grade; you don’t need to look for the union label. Instead, just look for the stamp of approval from the News Sentinel. That will tell you where the establishment is and if you doubt it, look for the financial disclosures.