Mark West Commentary: When Men are Unwilling to Lead – Tennessee’s Gubernatorial Race

Mark West, Bill Lee
by Mark West


There is a story in the Old Testament (Judges 4), where we read about two leaders in Israel, Deborah and Barak. The people of Israel were facing a serious threat from an oppressive enemy, King Jabin and the Commander of his army, Sisera. God had told Deborah to instruct Barak, a leader of men in his own right, to march out against Sisera to defeat the infidel. When Deborah informed Barak of God’s charge to him, Barak’s answer was:

“If you will go with me, then I will go; but if you will not go with me, I will not go.”

In that brief response, Barak revealed a lack of trust in God, a fear of men, and an unwillingness to go into enemy territory alone, without someone of greater courage and faith.

Deborah’s response to Barak was: “Very well, I will go with you. But you will receive no honor in this venture.”

Like all stories in the Bible, there are typically modern day applications to our lives and even our nation.

Rewind twelve months ago to July 2017. I was contacted by Bill Lee to sit down with him, one-on-one, to discuss his campaign for Governor of Tennessee. Mr. Lee’s intent was to introduce himself with the hopes that I would support his candidacy. I had not met Bill before but I was grateful to have the opportunity to get to know him and to ask him questions on key issues, particularly the ones that were the “non-negotiables” for me. I also knew that the questions I would ask would be ones of great interest to many others.

We met at Panera in Chattanooga (my “office” for the last decade or so) and we spoke for nearly an hour. We covered a range of topics, but there were several litmus questions that I was eager to delve into, in order to determine if Bill Lee understood both the threat that our state faced, as well as the opportunity he would have to address those threats, if elected to Governor.

The phrase “Values Voters” has been assigned to constituents who elevate God, Life, Marriage, and Family, above issues such as economy, immigration, taxes, gun rights, etc. I consider myself a Values Voter, not because the other issues are unimportant, but because I view God, Life, Marriage and Family as foundational to any stable and thriving culture. Without a solid foundation, there can be no long-term optimism for all the other lesser issues that concern voters and politicians.

With this as a backdrop, I quizzed Bill Lee about God, Life, Marriage, and Family. Included in my questions was the fairly recent phenomena that has arisen in our culture, where men and boys have been given an open door to enter the restrooms and locker rooms designated for ladies and girls. Some legislatures have attempted to address this assault on the privacy and safety of women and girls with so called “Bathroom bills.” But when I used that term, “Bathroom bills,” with Bill Lee, his tone and demeanor changed. It was at first a subtle change, as he shared that he did not believe this issue required a Governor to intervene but that he would simply leave that seminal issue to local municipalities and school boards. He reemphasized that his focus as Governor would be on the economy, jobs, education and such.

Because I see the battle in our bathrooms and locker rooms as merely indicative of a much deeper threat, I respectfully pressed Bill further on the issue. It was at that point that he became agitated and even angry — not necessarily at me but rather at the fact that Bathroom Bills and such had seemed to become such a big “distraction” from greater priorities.

Again, while our conversation lasted nearly an hour, I knew from Bill’s prolonged response about bathroom bills, that he was clearly unwilling to offer unflinching leadership in the office he aspires for, as the onslaught of demands continue from those pushing to expose our daughters and wives to threats that should never be.

At the time, while I did not yet have a candidate to support, I walked out of Panera that day knowing that I would not support Bill Lee. Not that Bill isn’t a good man. Not that he isn’t a godly man. Not that he isn’t a successful businessman. But rather, Bill was and is unwilling to lead out on one of the greatest threats to the foundation of our culture — the sanctity and distinctness of the sexes and the all out assault on something as basic as the dignity, privacy and safety of every female in our state. In less than a generation, we have gone from a nation that would have never imagined that men would be given free access to women’s private rooms, to where now one is a bigot or something worse, if he or she stands for the privacy and safety of women. And even worse, those aspiring to lead are fearful and unwilling to stand for all that is right and good. Sadly, we have too many modern day Baraks seeking leadership roles, and too few Deborahs stepping out with courage and faith.

Job, a man of great wisdom and integrity, had this to say about the importance of speaking out and standing up for matters of value:

“Have I feared the crowd or the contempt of the masses, so that I kept quiet and stayed indoors?” (Job 31:34)

There are many men and women in our state and nation, who do such good for their families, community and even state. But being good does not necessarily mean one is qualified for all his ambitions. Rather, an indicator that one is prepared to lead is the evidence that one is willing to lead on matters requiring courage. Unwillingness to stand where the battle is waging, is the greatest disqualifier to leadership, as we see in the story of Deborah and Barak, playing out right before our very eyes as we go to the polls.

(It should be noted that the other prominent man running for governor, Randy Boyd, is also unwilling to stand against this same threat. Thankfully, the top tier woman campaigning for governor, Diane Black, has demonstrated an unwavering commitment to stand for the safety and privacy of women and girls, as well as all the other Values Voters issues.)

“Where the battle rages, the loyalty of the soldier is proved; and to be steady on all the battlefield besides is mere flight and disgrace to him if he flinches at that one point.”

– – –

Mark West is a successful businessman and founder of the Chattanooga Tea Party.






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15 Thoughts to “Mark West Commentary: When Men are Unwilling to Lead – Tennessee’s Gubernatorial Race”

  1. Matt Studd

    Those of us who understand the three equal Branches of Government, know that in 1787 leaders of the states gathered to write the Constitution-a set of principles that told how the new nation would be governed.

    Under the Tenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, ALL powers NOT granted to the Federal Government are reserved for the States and the People. All State Governments are modeled after the Federal Government and consist of three branches: Executive, Legislative, and Judicial.

    *The Legislative branch

    The Legislative branch is to make laws. Laws are written, discussed and voted on in our General Assembly.

    *The Judicial branch

    The State Judicial branches are usually led by the State Supreme Court, which hears appeals from lower-level State Courts. Court structures and Judicial Appointments/Elections are determined either by legislation or the State Constitution. The Supreme Court focuses on correcting errors made in lower courts and therefore holds no trials. Rulings made in state Supreme Courts are normally binding; however, when questions are raised regarding consistency with the U.S. Constitution, matters may be appealed directly to the United States Supreme Court.

    *The Executive Branch

    In every State, the Executive branch is headed by a Governor who is directly elected by the people. In most States, the other leaders in the Executive branch are also directly elected, including the Lieutenant Governor, the Attorney General, the Secretary of State, and Auditors and Commissioners. States reserve the right to organize in any way, so they often vary greatly with regard to executive structure. No two state Executive organizations are identical.

    Candidate Bill Lee knows and understands these well defined distinctions. We are well aware of the many disturbing examples of the Barack Hussein Obama Administration, whereby the Executive branch was used as a Bully pulpit, with Obama’s phone and his pen, in various efforts to make Laws and force the Obama agenda. Bill Lee understands that any governing Bills/Laws must originate in the Legislative body and once cleared through the processes of our Representative Republic, would then be sent to the Governor’s Desk for his approval or veto. Just as President Trump has rightfully redirected Legislative matters to Congress (Legislative branch) to consider and correct, Bill Lee intends to have Tennessee State Government operate in their intended roles. The Governor will not be writing Bills or mandating Law.

    In an environment where each Branch of Government fulfill their responsibilities and authority, any Legislation regarding Bathroom Policies will originate, deliberate and if ratified, would occur in the Legislative branch or our General Assembly and then if passed, sent on to the Governor’s desk for approval or veto.

    Bill Lee has stated a number of times that our Founding Fathers had it right. He has also cited his deep and abiding Faith in God Almighty. In the atmosphere under a Bill Lee Governed Tennessee, each branch of Government would behave as our Founders designed. Any Bathroom Bills that originated in our General Assembly, that were Constitutionally sound and consistent with inspired wisdom and judgment, having passed both the House and Senate, would arrive on the Governor’s desk for approval.

    I am convinced we can TRUST Bill Lee as Governor, to make righteous decisions with the wisdom he has sought to attain, for the greater good of We The People, and sign such Bills into Law.

    Mark has opinions about Bill Lee that I believe are inconsistent with what Bill Lee has stated on the record. Mark has chosen to support an EXTREMELY wealthy and out of touch Candidate that is an Establishment Career Politician, one that has an irrefutable record of lacking veracity and one who is on record as being a “NeverTrumper”. Mark is free to do both, but doing so does not necessarily make him right on either point.

    A Governor who stands upon a deep and abiding Faith in The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, will be a Governor without Gender confusion or double mindedness.

    I am convinced Tennessee Citizens can TRUST Bill Lee and that Tennessee being led by him, can play a Leadership role in America, to work with President Trump in making America Great Again!


    Matt Studd

    1. 83ragtop50

      Mr. Studd – The point is that effective governors and presidents do NOT dictate legislation (although they have veto power) but rather they recommend and normally strongly influence the legislative process. Tennessee’s much flawed “IMPROVE” act is a prime example. Governors are elected to lead. Mr. Lee’s behavior on this topic does not reflect leadership skills.

  2. Donna Locke

    You are deluded if you think this country will move backward on LGBT equality and civil rights. That will not happen.

  3. L.B.

    It’s so interesting to read the opinions about Bill Lee from those who call themselves Christ followers. They say out of one side of their mouths, Bill Lee you are not strong enough to stand against the social issues such as the bathroom Bill. And then, out of the other side of their mouths they say their is no doubt in their minds that Bill Lee is a good Christian honest man. There is something wrong with this picture. If you judge a man on his strength on this one issue, then you are saying, his honesty and integrity means nothing and it’s not that important. The word of God is clear. You will know them by their fruit…that’s bottom line. What is Bill Lee’s fruit? Does he love well, does he give, how does he treat his people in his company, who are his friends, does he take correction well, does he have a servants heart, is he an honest man in his dealings, what do people say about him that know him., does it appear that he loves God? I went and heard Bill Lee the other night and many of these questions I heard him answer, which was very encouraging. We can work with honesty and integrity in a man. And a added plus I learned, is he has years of experience in administration, that’s a gift! That is important if you are going to run a state! And lets look at the alternative. If Conservatives and Christians do not gather around and support Bill Lee who I believe is a honest Christian man, then we could easily have Carl Dean as our next governor. We are a divided people, and the truth is…a house divided the enemy with come in an plunder. We need to stand United for one candidate and then we will have a major Victory on Aug. 2nd!

  4. Sim

    At one time I was leaning toward Lee, but as I learn more about him, he appears to be another “Politicians” who puts on one face for elections and another after the election.

    The definition of “Politician” in my book is a “Two faced Person”, they don’t necessarily have to work for the government, but that seem to be their breeding grounds.

    Judging from the interview, Lee seems to have the “Mental Disease” as Boyd, because of their success in business and financial status, they seem to think they are wiser/smarter than most other people, and naturally, know whats best for the “less fortunate ignorant”.

    They haven’t learned that wisdom of this world is foolishness with God,
    or that the foolishness of God is wiser than all the wisdom of this world.

    Like it or not, God is the one whom you have to make the “Trade deal with”,
    Peace and Prosperity exit only on “His Terms”.

    I said for a long time, just go to heaven if you want to get away from politicians, there won’t be any there.

    Looks like Diana is the best choice I have left.

  5. kevin

    One more point, why would State Rep. Andy Holt and former State Senator Mae Beavers, who over the past couple of years tried to pass a ” bathroom” bill, endorse Bill Lee? Because they, like me, know tha Bill Lee supports the idea!

  6. Dave Vance

    Well Mark that issue couldnt have been all that important to you in July of 2017 or you would have supported Mae since she was the only candidate talking about it as part of her campaign. Are you also campaigning to get rid of the legislators that that killed the bathroom bills or didnt support them in committee? What about the ones that actively undercut Mark Pody’s bill in Civil Justice Sub on marriage like Carter and Lundberg in 16? Or do you only back candidates that are millionaires? I dont disagree how important the issue is but question your sudden concern

    1. Matt Studd

      Great questions Dave.
      Let’s see how the answers read … or not.


  7. Kevin

    The hypocrisy of the spectators in this race is astonishing! Who really believes that a true outsider has polished answers to all the questions, 12 months before they enter a race? I’d offer that Donald Trump, even after being in office for more than a year, is still figuring it out! Bill Lee, a father of two young women, has clearly stated that he believes that girls are to use girls bathrooms and boys are to use boys bathrooms!

    But let’s take a step back, and think about what’s going on here. Obama and the left’s plan is still at work. Divide and conquer. The Left and the Establisment Right are worried, and are pulling out all the stops. They know and understand that their power and the gains toward complete control are in jeopardy!

    Diane Black IS part of the Establishment! Why hasn’t she stepped down as 6th District Rep? Because she’s addicted to the power! She CAN’T until she has secured her next “fix” of taxpayer funded power. She MUST go!

  8. JC

    It is disappointing to see the founder of the Chattanooga Tea Party worried more about adding more government regulation rather than removing it. The origin of the Tea Party concerns fiscal responsibility in government, reduction/removal of the welfare state, and the support of individual liberties. Let private businesses decide how they want to handle the issue.

  9. Stuart I. Anderson

    I have always been an ANYBODY BUT BOYD voter, but I am beginning to see that Randy! isn’t the only candidate whose administration will constitute what for conservatives is a disquieting similarity to the Haslam administration. Lee, like Boyd, like Haslam before them seems unable or unwilling to recognize the assault that cash strapped local communities are under by those well funded organizations who want to radically change our society via threatened or actual endless litigation. All three lack the ideological conviction necessary to fight the radicals.

    As this race proceeds my conviction that as a conservative Diane Black is the candidate I should support only grows. I remain, however, an ANYBODY BUT BOYD voter but in order to vote for Lee (or Harwell) the polls now have to show that Diane is behind the non-Boyd leader outside the margin of error. Please don’t make me do it voters!

  10. Donna Locke

    The religious Intolerati hijacked the Tea Party early on and corrupted it and the original, very simple Tea Party goals, which did not include this stuff.

    Political opportunity is wide open for fiscally conservative, open-minded Independents who are fed up with these attempts to force religious beliefs onto the entire populace. Such candidates would peel votes from every direction.

    1. 83ragtop50

      “Open minded”? Open minded to the exploitation of little girls? Open minded to being contrary to the very laws of nature? This article does not promote religious doctrine, it simply uses a story to reveal how totally uncommitted Mr. Lee is to the Christian principle HE professes to adhere to. If you want more of the Haslam reign then vote for Lee. If you, like I, would prefer to stop the slide toward the big government model of Haslam, then vote for Black. If you want to support law breaking illegals, then vote for Boyd.

      1. Donna Locke

        Laws of nature? If something exists, it can’t be outside natural law.

        So you propose having religion police follow around everyone in this country and demand birth certificates before we enter a restroom anywhere? You have been in a public restroom with a transgendered person and never knew it.

        One of the main features of the religious Intolerati is men trying to tell women what we ought to think and do. And most of this fear and hatred of LGBT people comes from men, and from women influenced by male-controlled religions and agendas.

        1. 83ragtop50

          Enjoy your state of delusion.