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Brad Harrington

Who Woulda Thunk It?

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My final "local" piece, published in the Wyoming Tribune-Eagle under the title of "It has been a good ride" on May 28th, 2011.

While conflict of interest prevented me from stating so in this piece, the "new adventure" Barbie and I will be embarking upon is "Liberty's Torch," scheduled for first publication on July 4th, 2011.

WHO WOULDA THUNK IT?

By Bradley Harrington

“Ideals are like stars; you will not succeed in touching them with your hands. But, like the sea-faring man on the desert of waters, you may choose them as your guides; and, following them, you will reach your destiny.” – Carl Schurz, Boston Faneuil Hall Address, 1859 -

Well I remember the day, a couple of years ago, the first time Reed Eckhardt asked me to write a local opinion column for the WTE.

I’d started writing again shortly after Barbie and I moved back to Cheyenne in 2008. Motivated in part by the then-upcoming presidential election, as well as a desire to return to a field I had left a number of years ago, I was self-syndicating a “national” column to the newspapers around the country, and naturally that list included Reed at the WTE as well.

He ran a couple of them, but not often: Reed’s primary focus is Wyoming and local issues and events, and that’s what he wanted me to tackle.

I turned him down initially, telling him that I simply did not know enough about local issues to consider myself as any kind of “expert” anyone would be willing to listen to.

Which was true enough, but not my real reason at that time: Being a writer of a decidedly capitalist/objectivist bent, interested in analyzing current events in the light of the ideas and principles of liberty and individualism, and based on much experience with many other editors around America, I simply did not think Reed would ever be willing to regularly run what I wrote.

A few months later, he asked me again. “You can learn the issues,” he said. He wanted more right-wing commentary for balance on his editorial pages and he thought I was just the guy to fill that bill.

Well, I could learn the local issues; and Reed was right, I was just the guy to supply any interested readers with just that kind of copy. "Right-wing" I got. But still…

“Why would you run any such stuff?” I asked. “It’s not what you write. It’s not your position. You don’t agree with most of it. What would be the purpose? I’ll get going and then once you see what I’m actually going to have to say on a regular basis, you’ll just get tired of it and fire me.”

But Reed assured me that wouldn’t happen, and that whether he agreed or not was irrelevant. “When have I ever turned down a well-written column from any viewpoint?” he said. “Write about whatever ticks you off, as long as it’s local.”

So that’s how this whole thing started, and I began boning up to the best of my ability on local issues and events – and running my mouth on what I thought of them. It didn’t take long to realize that the larger problems gripping America begin at home, and often comically so. I couldn’t have made some of this stuff up if I’d tried.

And, to Reed’s everlasting credit, he ran it all. Even when he violently disagreed, as he did with a piece on the food police I wrote last year, an issue that I know is dear to his heart. “Do you really believe that we would be better off without county food inspections?” he asked me incredulously. “We’d all die of food poisoning!”

But he ran it anyway. Word for word. Just the way I wrote it. Who woulda thunk it?

And the ride with the readers has been a tremendously interesting experience as well. Being the outspoken proponent of freedom and capitalism that I am, it didn’t take long for the enemies of those ideas to take notice of me, and the friction between me and the unions, political hacks, “do-gooders” and other assorted riff-raff began early on.

Not everyone wanted to string me up, however; for I have also received more thoughtful, considerate replies to my columns and the ideas they have discussed than at any other writing time of my life. This city may be in the hands of the collectivists but don’t ever make the mistake of thinking you can take your average Wyomingite and put a noose around their neck; you might just be left head-and-heeled, hanging out to dry while you learn your proper manners.

So, why am I bothering to tell anybody all of this? Because this, Dear Reader, is the last piece you will see from me in the WTE. Barbie and I have decided to pursue another new adventure, and never the twain shall meet.

To my readers pro and con, thank you for all of your input. You’ve made me rethink my positions more than once, and I will never be the same for having done so.

And, to Reed in particular: Through thick and thin, you followed through on your agreement. Something I have to admit I didn’t ever think was going to happen. Even when the “good old boy” network came unglued about my anti-DDA stands, you merely shifted my column location over to the other page to avoid reader confusion between my rants and official editorial policy.

And that’s what I call integrity. Something we could all stand to see more of, personally and politically. And it has been appreciated more than you know.

--

Bradley Harrington is a former U.S. Marine and a writer who lives in Cheyenne, Wyoming; he can be reached at timeforeverymantostir@yahoo.com.

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