It has been reported by Fox that outgoing Democratic Rep. Jim Cooper of Tennessee sat down for an interview with a local newspaper on Tuesday to give his thoughts on upcoming elections and the future of the Democratic Party in his state. Cooper’s predictions were far from optimistic, as he said that the party is “facing extinction” in Tennessee and claimed that Democrats have no strategy to appeal to rural voters.
“As usual, Democrats are not alert to future dangers,” Cooper lamented to the Nashville Scene. “The biggest danger we face in an off-year election after we won the White House is the 100-year trend toward the other party. Redistricting is small potatoes compared to that historical trend.”
Asked if he believed the Democrats would prove competitive in the long term, Cooper said that he hopes so, but “hope is not a strategy.” Cooper criticized the management of the party in his state and told the Scene that the Democrats in Tennessee needed a new direction.
“Their strategy is blind hope,” Cooper said. “Many of the folks you’re probably listening to have probably never visited these counties. They’re not kin to these folks. Their best friends don’t live out there. I had the advantage of being born in Nashville but raised in Shelbyville.”
Cooper insisted that while he is retiring from office at the end of his term, he does not plan to stop working. He expressed interest in assisting the party if possible but said he is more focused on his own endeavors.
“I always want to be available and helpful, but I plan on getting a job and being a productive citizen. It can’t be handed to you. You’ve got to study it and work at it and be good at it. And then we can put on some finishing touches. There are many people today who want this stuff handed to them, and life doesn’t work like that,” Cooper said. “It’s important to make money. It’s important to be productive. It’s important to pay taxes. Work organizes life. I plan on working until the day I die, because work is fun, work is interesting, work is important.”
“It’s important to be in communication with your constituents, not to be their boss. You’re their representative. We’ve got to get this formula right. The Democratic Party in Tennessee is basically facing extinction. We’ve been on a long downhill slide for a long time. Tennessee has fewer statewide elected offices than I think any other state, and now the only path upward will be through Memphis, which is not nearly as successful as Nashville. That fits Republican strategy very well. Their intent is to ghettoize the state Democratic Party.”
Cooper has clashed repeatedly with more progressive and left-wing Democrats. In fact, some within the party have attempted to remove him from office with a replacement of their own.
Odessa Kelly, a progressive candidate backed by Justice Democrats, sought to defeat Cooper in 2020. She boasted endorsements from key Democrats, but had a history of inflammatory social media posts, including calls for violence against Republican lawmakers.
Kelly, while staging the primary challenge against Cooper, went on Facebook the day of President Biden’s inauguration and posted a list of suggested agenda items for the new administration’s first 100 days.
The agenda included standard Democratic wishes for stimulus checks, packing the Supreme Court and student loan forgiveness, as well as jokes about attacking GOP leaders.
“Day 9: Allow Pelosi to hire the best pimp that Memphis or Detroit has to offer to Smack tha [emoji] outta Ted Cruz and the rest uv’em…(y’all know the ones)!” she wrote.