“We want government and elected officials to work for us and not special interests or crony capitalists” is the overwhelming sentiment not only in the U.S., but in Tennessee and particularly District 48. “We want local control, and not mandates from the Federal Government” is a belief that emanates throughout Rutherford County. Frustration with the system has led to low voter turnout, and the rise of outsiders like Ben Carson, Carly Fiorina, and even Donald Trump. But what if there is a process by which citizens could exert their Constitutional authority and regain control of government for “We the people”?
Self Governance is a process by which citizens and local organizations can enact positive changes to make a difference in government. Self Governance is defined as exercising one’s individual liberty, personal responsibility, and civic authority to control instituted government. It is the ultimate in local control and involves engaged citizens working with elected officials for the betterment of their community in a positive manner. District 48 Representative Bryan Terry is one of a minority of elected officials nationwide that have been trained in Self Governance, and are truly working with and for the people.
Self governance and self government are often interchangeable and there are various books, programs, and instructors nationwide to help citizens make a difference. Eric Metaxas, an author and radio host from New York who speaks about “Self Government”, recently spoke in Nashville at the Give Thanks event hosted by World Outreach Church. In addition to Metaxas, Tennesseans who founded the Center for Self Governance have taken their program nationwide and even offer a home school program. “These people see that our system is broken and are helping individuals and grassroots groups understand how they can make a difference. I encourage everyone to check them out. We need more people to become educated about their civic authority and get involved,” explained Terry.
“In 2012 and 13, I saw the frustration with the political system and saw people upset with elected officials from Washington all the way to Murfreesboro. I began looking to see how I could change that and get involved for my children’s future,” said Rep. Terry. “I was in the process of learning how to enact change when I learned about the Center for Self Governance. I learned how to be more effective, and ran for office. As a self governance legislator, I am proud to help citizens make an impact because it is a government of and by the people.”
As a newcomer and political outsider, Dr. Terry ran a complete grassroots campaign for state representative. Known for his tenacious ability to canvass door to door, as well as for the information he provides constituents at events, online, or via video updates, one can see his self governance training in action. One can, also, see why he was named Legislator of the Year in 2015, as well as elected co-chairman of the Bipartisan Freshman Caucus.
Rep. Terry said that as he canvassed the entire district, he could see that citizens wanted a fresh face and an outsider. “People were tired of the political establishment. They were tired government working against them instead of for them. They wanted information and for someone to actually do what they said they would do,” explained Terry. “Self governance has helped me help our district and state.”
During his first two years, Rep. Terry worked with a multitude of citizens to make a difference. In an outreach to youth, he worked with Central Magnet School students to co-sponsor and help pass the “Right to Try Act” which helps terminally ill patients gain access to potentially life saving medications. They were they only students in Tennessee to work with a legislator in such a capacity. Not to be outdone, working on behalf of MTSU students, he helped pass the “Racial Profiling Prevention Act”. “I have high school and college students helping on my campaign and in the district all the time. I think it is important that they know that they have a voice, and I’m happy to lead in that area,” stated Rep. Terry.
In addition to youth outreach, Rep. Terry worked with citizens to change a loophole in child custody law that impacted Rutherford County, increase parent and citizen input in the school textbook adoption process, and increase efficiency in the Office of Open Records Counsel which impacts government transparency. “Perhaps one of the biggest impacts I have seen working with citizens is that I have been granted the authority to attend random landfill inspections. Changes have been made and people are happy to know that they can make a difference,” said Rep. Terry.
Having a legislator who actually is trained and works for the people is a rarity. Dr. Bryan Terry is one of those leaders.