Rodney Clough
4 min readApr 7


The embrace felt ‘round the world:’ Gloria Johnson hugs fellow lawmaker Justin Jones after his expulsion from the Tennessee House, April 6. Photo courtesy of The International News

History doesn’t repeat itself; people drift backwards.

April 3–6

There were few political lessons learned this week. There were no ‘aha moments.’

Rather one could argue that this week’s political surprises were about culture, not power; disturbance, not democracy; tradition not repression. Anything but the dream of transformation. Anything but the aspiration of reconstituting history.

If this appraisal is accurate, then explain how could so much ground be covered in what seemed like a political ‘moment?’ Ground covered, in what seemed simultaneously, four states?

Consider the reason is perhaps because there is so much ground to cover and for the young anti-assault style weapon protestors in the Tennessee Capitol and othersnot very much time.

What America learned this past week was urgency.

The occasion for the sudden presence of protestors at the Tennessee “people’s house” were three resolutions being deliberated to expel three legislators for violating chamber decorum. The three Rep’s — Justin Pearson, Justin Jones, and Gloria Johnson — had “interrupted” a floor debate on proposed public gun safety legislation because their voices were repressed. Depending on your party affiliation the three were petitioning for freedom to speak on behalf of their constituents or as one Republican legislator summarized, (they) were acting “uppity.”

For two of the three, Jones and Pearson, ‘uppity’ won and they were expelled from the Chamber. Both are the youngest legislators in the House. Both representing urban Tennessee districts. Both, black. The remaining legislator, Gloria Johnson, ‘uppity’ narrowly lost. She is a survivor of the Covenant Christian School shooting, ten days before. ‘She’ is white. For the few voters who crossed party lines, “uppity” didn’t apply to her. And the eloquence of two young black men defending the rights of white Christian school students in a privileged white Nashville neighborhood, on behalf of their white Chamber colleagues, not convincing enough.

Viewers of the proceedings could see in glaring cable vignettes a predominantly white, male House chamber, flanked by a hallway of massed young, white predominantly female protestors. White State Troopers cordoned off a path to the Chamber entry.

Observers noted that many of the protestors looked younger than 18, the minimum voting age. Observers also noted that “all the world is watching,” as Tennessee shredded speech freedom, depriving over 100,000 Tennessee residents representation.

In another state Capitol, Lansing, Michigan, another chamber was voting to repeal a 1931 state law forbidding abortion except when the woman’s life is at stake. Additional provisions were enacted to ensure women’s medical rights, including legalizing use of abortion medication.

In another state Capitol, Madison, Wisconsin, another chamber was certifying the election of a Supreme Court Justice who had campaigned on reversing draconian women’s abortion limits and reversing manipulated electorate districting. In Wisconsin which is split evenly across party affiliations, the legislature and the Supreme Court are skewed Republican. Though Wisconsin retains a healthy 70% legislature advantage for Republicans, the Supreme Court will be advantage Democrats, providing disenfranchised Wisconsin voters a vital check. And for America a new Wisconsin delegation to Washington.

In another divided state, Illinois, the residents of Chicago, the nation’s third largest metro area, woke up to the news that a Progressive Democrat, Brandon Johnson, a black teacher and union organizer had defeated a white establishment-backed union buster, Paul Vallas, who ran on a platform that his opponent was ‘soft on crime.’ This was the third time in two years that the campaign argument “soft on crime” lost at the polls in a tight and nationally significant race (1).

And with the defeat of Paul Vallas, Chicago joins every major American city administered by a POC: a ‘first’ in American history. (2)

In every contest democratic processes were in play. America witnessed new political alignments, old power bastions crumble, shaky institutions gain new vigor. The glaring disappointment, Tennessee, became a vivid picture of the slough of racism, but at the same time a promising profile: the protestors did not arrive en masse to score vindication points — they were too young and ‘too white.’


They arrived to reclaim their future.

Few words occur in all three major religions and even in some “non-believer,” circles. ‘Atonement’s’ presence in Christianity, Judaism and Islam is unique, not only because of what it means (3) but because of what it does for the practitioner: ‘atonement,’ when practiced, avails the agent an opportunity for reconciliation, for reconnecting with the divine. (4)

‘Atonement’ clears the slate: it’s not a do-over but a do-something. It’s semantic neighbors, ‘satisfaction’ and ‘reparation,’ are founded on acknowledging things are awry, out of whack, ‘just wrong.’

Last week America glimpsed at ‘atonement,’ as four states wrestled with a history of repression, abuse of power, profiling, and neglect.

It didn’t go entirely well; it rarely does. (5) But even as Tennessee displayed, what once were angry young black men and clueless white kids, became overnight the nation’s spokespeople for democracy and justice.


April 7


1-The recent mayoral race in Los Angeles and the recent gubernatorial race in New York.

2-Chicago joins New York, Houston, Atlanta and Los Angeles with elected POC Mayors. Though Brandon Johnson replaced Lori Lightfoot, a gay black woman, as Mayor of Chicago, New York had a white mayor, (DeBlasio), during most of Lightfoot’s tenure.



5-A Democrat switched sides and North Carolina became a ‘super-majority’ Republican state, LGBTQ+ rights were challenged in Kansas and in Texas, abortion rights were challenged in Idaho.




Rodney Clough

Refuses to nap. Septuagenarian. Cliche’ raker. Writes weekly.