Most Americans are more aware of the workings of the federal government than of their own state governments. But these "laboratories of democracy" constitute perhaps the most creative and successful component of the American political experiment. Like each of the states, Tennessee has developed a state government with a history and political culture uniquely its own.
This book places Tennessee's modern political institutions in the context of the history and personalities that formed them. It pays special attention to the period after 1978, when three governors left a lasting impression on the direction of the state government. Separate chapters examine the legislative, executive, and judicial branches, explaining how and why Tennessee's political culture differs from that of other states. The book also explores the ways in which education, health care, corrections, economic development, and other key factors define the government agenda. Additional chapters on the media, political campaigns, and local government provide a backdrop that elucidates more fully how the state government functions.
The authors profile many of the personalities who have shaped Tennessee's political agenda. Among these are longtime Senate Democratic Speaker John Wilder; his close ally, Senate Republican Leader Ben Atchley; House Speaker Jimmy Naifeh, son of a Lebanese immigrant; and Bill Snodgrass, who served as state comptroller for forty-seven years. The book explains how these individuals related to three governors, Republicans Lamar Alexander and Don Sundquist and Democrat Ned McWherter, whose administrations presided over the state's greatest period of growth and prosperity.
Illustrated withphotographs and tables, and featuring anecdotal sidebars that illuminate key issues, this book will be the standard text on Tennessee state government and politics for years to come.