One nice thing about the Great Hearts controversy is that it has caused some people whose motives are otherwise kind of hidden from public view to put their cards on the table — as when the Nashville Chamber of Commerce hand-delivered an angry letter to the Metro School Board over the weekend. The letter told board members that they'd better find a way to get back the $3.4 million in funds the state is withholding without suing the state.
People, I want to take 15 minutes just to laugh at the idea of the Chamber sending out minions to hand-deliver letters over the weekend. It's like feudal lords sending vassals out to get the peasants to behave. Messy democracy is just fine until it inconveniences them, I guess, and then it must be squashed.
Democracy is not very efficient. It often works in stupid ways, and people do things in the name of constituent interest that instead create huge clusterfucks. But our founders got that. And so they put in a series of — sing along, if you know the words, folks — checks and balances. If the legislative branch screws up, in a democracy, the judicial branch is the remedy.
That annoys the Chamber:
Part of the chamber’s message is clear: “We believe that would be a mistake,” Marc Hill, the chamber’s chief policy officer, told the Tennessean when asked about the school board possibly suing the state. “Partners don’t sue each other.”
Partners don't sue each other? Bwah ha ha ha ha. A member of the business community actually said this! I honestly can't believe Hill could say this with a straight face or without getting struck by lightning.
Business partners absolutely sue each other all the time. But setting that aside, in our form of government, when there is a dispute between two government bodies about what a law means, the right thing to do is to take it to court. That's where decisions about what laws mean are settled.
When conflict over the meaning and application of a law arises, it is deeply anti-democratic to suggest that two government bodies just "partner" together to decide what the law means without the oversight of the courts. If there is a legitimate question — and there seems to be in this case — then it should end up in the courts.
That's how our system of government works. If the Chamber doesn't like that, well, tough shit. When rich, powerful people who aren't used to being defied complain about the messiness of democracy, the more it becomes obvious that there's something really special about our form of government.