Five Questions with Ralph Petersen: Hawkins Countians react to election, storming of Capitol

This article is the fourth installment of a short series in the Review entitled “Five questions with __” that aims to capture how Hawkins Countians are reacting to the 2020 Presidential Election and the Jan. 6 storming of U.S. Capitol.

The Review spoke to several Hawkins County citizens who hold no public offices and are not representatives of any local political organizations in hopes of sharing a range of perspectives from real local citizens.

Each interviewee is asked the same set of five questions, which can be found below.

The series was initially begun shortly after the November, 2020 Presidential Election. However, one of the questions has since been updated to ask participants their thoughts on the Jan. 6 Capitol riot. The Review aims to capture a hyper-local view on how residents feel that the Presidential Election and the Capitol riot will affect their family and our small community.

Ralph Petersen is a Review guest columnist who writes “Always Right, Sometimes Wrong” as well as “Hymn Notes.”

Petersen and his wife, Kathy, are also the owners of the Olde Towne Emporium, which is located at 212 E. Main St. In Rogersville.

Some have said that the nation feels perhaps more divided now than it has in a long time. Do you feel like this has affected Hawkins County? Do you feel that the county is divided?

“No, I don’t have any sense that Hawkins County is more politically divided,” Petersen told the Review. “My family moved here from California about two years ago. The political animosities and divisions there were blatant; not so much here.

Since our arrival, we have made many new friends and acquaintances and the general impression I have, is that most of the people here, are fully aware and very protective of our constitutional rights and freedoms. So, the majority generally rejects any notions of over-reaching government control and they lean in the right direction of self-reliance, personal responsibility, reasonable taxation, and limited government.”

How do you feel now that congress has certified President-elect Joe Biden’s electoral college victory? Why?

“I am very disappointed,” Petersen told the Review. “About half of our eligible voting citizens are convinced that this election was stolen. That is not healthy for our Republic. I am also disappointed in the courts (including the Supreme Court) that decided to ignore the charges and so, by refusing to hear the complaints and examine the evidence, Joe Biden’s electoral college victory is now, and always will be, overshadowed by questionable and obvious voting irregularities. That is not good for our country and it will not be helpful to Joe Biden’s presidency.”

How do you feel that the outcome of this election will affect your life and Hawkins County?

“The saying goes, God gives nations the governments they deserve,” Petersen said. “Our once great nation was blessed by God because it was established on and governed by His Word and His Laws. But we have barred Him from our schools and erased His Name from our textbooks. We have abolished His laws, removed Him from our government, and eliminated Him from our political discourse. And we have, without remorse, legalized the murder of millions of babies, so, I have to admit that I am fearful for the future of our nation. I expect God’s immanent judgment and I have total confidence in Him who does all things right for our good and for His glory.

In the short term, I don’t think my life here in Hawkins County will be suddenly or drastically changed because of the wide, overwhelming prevalence of biblical Christianity in this community. In my opinion, ours, as well as many other communities scattered throughout the nation, is a remnant of our faithful forefathers and the founders of this nation who labored diligently to create a Constitution based on God’s laws and biblical principles. Those principles in our local community, would be difficult to change rapidly. Unfortunately, some states are on a dangerous course to socialism and ultimate destruction. I am thankful to live in this community and we must be cautious to protect our freedoms and our God-given rights.”

The phrase ‘vote like the future depends on it’ has been used on both sides this year. Do you feel like this election has been different or, perhaps, more important than others in the past? Why or why not?

“This phrase can’t be more accurate, and it stirs up some serious irritations in me,” Petersen said. “A few years ago, in another very important and divisive election, I abruptly ended a long-time friendship. On election day, I asked my friend if he had already voted. His shocking answer was, ‘No, I don’t waste my time to go vote. It doesn’t really make any difference.’ My response was, ‘You have no right to complain about anything political. If you don’t vote, then we can’t be friends.’ And that was the end.

Some would think that was too harsh but, in this country, voting is a serious responsibility and a rare gift from God. Most of the people throughout history and around the world, have never had the privilege of voting.

Our founders fought for, labored long, and sacrificed much, to create a multi-faceted governing machine of limited powers to ensure our freedoms and protect our rights. And they were brilliant in establishing a constitutional government ‘of the people, by the people, and for the people.’

That means they work for us. They enact laws by our consent. And if they fail us, we have the privilege of, and the constitutional duty to remove them from their offices and replace them with someone who will respect us and our constitution.

Next to our freedoms and rights to assemble regularly in the corporate worship of our God in our churches, I can’t think of anything more important than exercising our civic duties to VOTE RIGHT. If we neglect this privilege, we deserve to lose it. And YES, I am passionate about this.”

How do you feel about what unfolded at the Capitol on Jan. 6? Why? What (if any) long-term effects do you think this event will have on the nation and on Hawkins County?

“January 6 should have been no surprise to anyone who has been paying attention for the last four years,” Petersen said. “It was not orchestrated by the President; it was a nationwide, grassroots ‘peaceful’ demonstration by thousands of patriots who believed that their president has been abused and that they have been disenfranchised. Donald Trump had agreed to make an appearance for his supporters but, to conclude that He was personally responsible for the illegal and destructive activities is foolishness at best and character assassination at worst.

Those who broke laws should be tried and prosecuted.

This unfortunate outbreak is the result of suspected voter fraud and election rigging which has been a national problem for years. All of this could have been averted if our feckless representatives and judges had done their duties to hear the people, examine the evidence and prosecute the criminals.

The long-term effect on our nation is that our political system has been tarnished and it may be decades before the majority of citizens can regain trust in their government.”