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Crossing the Aisle
How Bipartisanship Brought Tennessee to the Twenty-First Century and Could Save America

Author(s): Keel Hunt

The latter third of the twentieth century was a time of fundamental political transition across the South as increasing numbers of voters began to choose Republican candidates over Democrats. Yet in the 1980s and '90s, reform-focused policymaking—from better schools to improved highways and health care—flourished in Tennessee. This was the work of moderate leaders from both parties who had a capacity to work together "across the aisle."

The Tennessee story, as the Pulitzer Prize–winning author Jon Meacham observes in his foreword to this book, offers striking examples of bipartisan cooperation on many policy fronts—and a mode of governing that provides lessons for America in this frustrating era of partisan stalemate.

For more on Crossing the Aisle and author Keel Hunt, visit

Biography of Author(s)

Keel Hunt is a columnist for the USA Today Network in Tennessee. He has been a reporter, editor, Washington correspondent, and editorial writer. From 1979 to 1986 he was Special Assistant to Governor Lamar Alexander.


  • "A worthy successor to Hunt's Coup, this volume continues the story of Tennessee politics from the early inauguration of Lamar Alexander in 1978 to the election of Phil Bredesen in 2002. In the process, it discusses how both Democrat and Republican leaders worked together for the good of the state and significantly boosted the well-being of its people and its national reputation. Topics include the success of the state and its localities in attracting automobile manufacturers, luring sports teams, engaging in educational reform, sponsoring a world's fair and a successful 'homecoming,' restoring cities, and combating child mortality. This is journalistic history at its best, and makes for engaging and informative reading."
    John R. Vile, Middle Tennessee State University
  • "In this fascinating and constructive new study, Keel Hunt has given readers here and beyond an invaluable guidebook to confronting and overcoming the most difficult of civic challenges. Anyone interested in creating jobs, building communities, solving problems, and moving forward with what Franklin Roosevelt once called 'strong and active faith' will find Hunt's thoughtful explanation of the Tennessee story both illuminating and even inspirational."
    Jon Meacham, from the Foreword