“Round Up the Usual Political Suspects”—GOP Congressman John Rose Won’t Honor Capitol Police Heroes June 18, 2021
The Congressional Gold Medal. It is Congress’s highest expression of national appreciation for distinguished achievements and contributions by individuals and institutions. Since the American Revolution, Congress has issued these gold medals. The Congressional Gold Medal, along with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, are the highest civilian awards given by the United States (senate.gov, fas.org, Straus, J., 2/09/18). The Congressional Gold Medal is voted upon by both the House and the Senate. This award seeks to honor those, individually or as a group, “who have performed an achievement that has an impact on American history and culture that is likely to be recognized as a major achievement in the recipient’s field long after the achievement (Congressional Research Service).” Among the individuals and groups receiving this highest honor are George Washington as well as astronauts Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, Michael Collins, and John Glenn. Other Gold Medal winners include the highly decorated WWII Japanese American 442nd Regimental Combat team and Elie Wiesel for his work in preserving Holocaust remembrance. Five months after the 1/06/2021 Trump-incited MAGA insurrection on the Capitol, both the House and Senate passed their own resolutions to award three medals. One medal will go to the Entire U.S. Capitol Police Force. A second Gold Medal will be awarded to the (DC) Metropolitan Police Department, “so that the sacrifices of fallen officers and their families, and the contributions of other law enforcement agencies who answered the call of duty on January 6, 2021, can be recognized and honored in a timely manner.” A third Congressional Gold medal will be put on display at the Smithsonian Institution. It will have a plaque that lists all the law enforcement agencies that protected and defended the Capitol (Grayer, A. & Wilson, K., cnn.com, 6/16/21).
You would think that such Gold Medal honors to our nation’s law enforcement that saved our democracy on 1/06/2021 would have received unanimous approval in the House of Representatives. Think again. The final House vote on 6/15/2021 to award these Gold Medals was 406-21. All 21 members voting against these Gold Medals were, you guessed it, members of the GOP. Such dissent by “Team Red” shows that too many members of Congress still can’t agree on the facts of the deadly Capitol Hill riot. To paraphrase the movie “Casablanca,” let’s “round up the usual political suspects” in that shameful group of 21 naysayers. They include, Marjorie “QAnon/Jewish Space lasers” Taylor Greene (R-GA), her QAnon gun toting pal Lauren Boebert (R-CO), Louie “dumbest Congressman” Gohmert (R-TX), Paul “My Family Disowns Me” Gosar (R-AZ), and Matt “I Love Teenage Girls” Gaetz (R-FL). Marjorie Taylor Greene was upset that the Gold Medal legislation called the 1/06/2021 “an insurrection.” What was it, Cong. Greene? A senior prom? She also took offense that this bill labeled the Capitol complex “the temple of our American democracy (cnn.com, 6/16/21).” Cong. Greene, just where is the “temple of our American democracy?” The headquarters of lying Fox News? Another fellow on this list of Gold Medal opponents was Congressman John Rose. Let’s meet Representative Rose.
Second-term Congressman John W. Rose (56) currently represents Tennessee’s 6th Congressional District (CD). The present TN 6th is the area known as Middle Tennessee and includes some eastern Nashville suburbs (Cohen & Cook 2020 Political Almanac). The TN 6th contains 17 Middle TN counties and small parts of two others. This area remains largely rural. It was not suited for plantations or big landholdings. Small farmers and county-seat towns have been part of this scenic area from its initial settlement. The five largest cities in the area Hendersonville, Cookeville, Gallatin, Lebanon, and Mt. Juliet. According to the 2010 census, Hendersonville, with a population of 51,372 is the 6th’s largest city, while Mt. Juliet with its 23,671 population is its smallest (Cohen & Cook 2020, factfinder.census.gov). Over half the 6th’s population lives in the three counties adjoining Nashville. The 6th CD counties next to Nashville are upscale places with median incomes that are among TN’s highest. Fast-growing Sumner and Wilson Counties are the 6th CD’s largest counties. Sumner County includes the Nashville bedroom communities of Hendersonville, Gallatin, White House, and Portland. Working professionals along with retirees have moved there. Putnam County and its city of Cookeville are an industry and manufacturing hub. The city of Baxter, near Cookeville, was chosen by a Brazilian manufacturer of ceramic tiles as the location of its U.S. headquarters. Dan Evins, founder of the Cracker Barrel Old Country Store restaurant/chain, grew up in the 6th’s Smithville (Cohen & Cook 2020).
Politically, the 6th was originally one of the Democrat’s heartlands. It was settled by Appalachian Scots-Irish Protestants and was the base of Scots-Irish hero President Andrew Jackson. It voted for Democrats for 140 years after Jackson. Al Gore Sr. was a congressman from this district who later became TN ‘s Senator. His son, Al Gore Jr., was also a congressman from this district who later became TN’s Senator and Bill Clinton’s VP. The 6th is heavily white (88.7%). Blacks constitute just 4.3% of this district (Cohen & Cook 2020, Woodard, “American Nations”). The TN 6th did not face violent racial clashes and stayed loyal to Democrats longer than most of the South. However, in the 2000’s, this area, part of the fundamentalist Protestant Bible Belt and a holder of strong cultural conservative attitudes, turned against urban national Democrats. In 2016, the TN 6th gave Donald 72% of its vote against Hillary, placing it among Trump’s top 5% of districts nationwide. In 2020, Donald again clobbered Democrat Joe Biden by winning 72% of the 6th’s vote (Cohen & Cook, 2020, Woodard, “American Nations,” Presidential Election Results). The 2021 Cook Partisan Voting Index (PVI) gave the Volunteer State 6th an “ultra-bright Red” R+26 score. Since 2011, only GOP Congressmembers have represented the TN 6th (See Cohen & Cook 2020).
Cookeville, TN native John Rose graduated in 1988 from Tennessee Tech University, received a 1990 Master’s from Indiana’s Purdue University, and a 1993 law degree from TN’s Vanderbilt. After practicing law in Chattanooga for a few years, Rose co-founded the Transcender Corp., a provider of information technology certification training. In 2000, Rose and his partners sold that company for $60 million. In 2002, TN GOP Gov. Don Sundquist appointed Rose to the state’s top agricultural position. Rose later held several public-service posts, including the Tennessee Tech Foundation, a state conservation trust fund, and the Tennessee State Fair Association. After the incumbent 6th CD GOP Congressmember announced her bid to run for governor, Rose jumped into the primary race. He funded his primary effort with $3 million of his own money. The race between Rose and his main rival in Campaign 2018 centered on who supported Donald more and the need for tougher enforcement of immigration laws. Rose called himself a “businessman, farmer, and outsider.” He won the GOP House primary with 41% of the vote, a 10- point margin, and steamrollered his underfunded Democratic rival in the general election by 41 points (Cohen & Cook 2020). In 2020, Rose coasted to re-election taking 74% of the vote (CQ 117th Cong. At Your Fingertips).
We should not at all be surprised by Cong. Rose’s hard right record on Capitol Hill. He is a member of the key Financial Services Committee and also of the conservative Republican Study Committee, the biggest and most influential bloc in the House GOP (CQ 117th Cong. at Your Fingertips, rsc-walker.house.gov). In 2019, The Koch-affiliated Americans for Prosperity group gave Rose a 91% conservative evaluation rating. From 2019-2020, Cong. Rose voted 88% of the time with wacko GOPer Texan Louie Gohmert (projects.propublica.org). Gohmert, remember, also voted with Rose against awarding Congressional Gold Medals to the U.S. Capitol Hill Police Force and Metropolitan Police Departments (cnn.com, Grayer & Wilson, 6/16/21). In 2019-2020, Cong. Rose voted with moderate Nashville House Democrat Jim Cooper just 27% of the time (projects.propublica.org). Cong. Rose voted with Donald 94.3% of the time (projects.fivethirtyeight.com, 1/13/21). In 12/2020, Cong. Rose was one of 126 GOPers who signed an amicus brief in support of “Texas v. Pennsylvania.” That was a lawsuit filed at the US Supreme Ct. that contested the results of the 2020 presidential election in which Joe Biden defeated Donald Trump. SCOTUS (the Supreme Court of the United States) correctly declined to hear that case on the basis that TX lacked standing to challenge the results of an election held by another state (nytimes.com, Liptak, 12/11/20). House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) issued a statement that called the signing of this amicus brief by Rose and other Congressman an act of “election subversion.” Pelosi aptly reprimanded Cong. Rose and his fellow GOP legislators for “bringing dishonor to the House… and choosing to subvert the Constitution and undermine public trust in our sacred democratic institutions (speaker.gov, 12/11/20).”
In the “dripping Red” TN 6th CD, Cong. Rose can keep getting re-elected. However, in order to keep him irrelevant, Democrats in 2022 must come out in droves plus, leaving Rose and his fellow GOPers in the minority. In 2022, all the GOP needs to hand Bakersfield’s Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) the Speaker’s gavel is five seats. If Rose’s “Team Red” takes back the House in 2022, President Biden’s progressive agenda will be dead. To protect our democracy, we must always vote. Voting is everything.