After the written attacks I've suffered over the past couple of weeks, I had decided late Monday afternoon that I had had enough. I have never minded trading good-natured barbs with people but the good-natured part of it stopped some time ago.
Because I have political views that don't agree with the majority view around here, I am ostracized by a good many people in the region. And what's really troublesome is that these attacks are more personal than political, even though my political writings have not been personal at all, save the one time I wrote that Dick Trail has been more dependent on the government than he might want people to know.
That's why I try and stay away from writing about politics in my column because I know I have a minority view. When Bruce Crosby hired me away from Mike O'Dell and the Weekender newspaper 15 years ago, he told me one of the reasons was that I wrote from a perspective that the people in this area weren't getting from anyone else and we both thought that was a good thing. Even though I still believe that no one can have a clear understanding of the choices facing them without knowledge from both sides of the issue, I have suffered greatly from being the deliverer of the other side of the coin.
I guess it must be an age thing because that didn't use to bother me. I enjoyed presenting the other side because I believed the other side was the right place to be, regardless of how many lined up against me. But when you drive through town and nobody waves at you, and you go shopping at Walmart and nobody speaks to you, and you go to happy hour and people are confrontive with you, it eventually begins to wear on you. I'm not whining here, just writing from the heart. When I'm personally attacked, it's hurtful and few people would enjoy that. And to make things worse, I know there are other people in this area who share my feelings about things but they are oh so quiet when debates erupt. They're not seen and they're not heard.
So a really amazing thing happened to me in the days following my decision to retire from column writing. I went to Walmart and four different people told me they enjoyed reading my columns. That's never happened before in the same visit. I received three phone calls at home and four e-mails saying the same thing. This had happened occasionally before but certainly not so many in such a short period of time and I had told no one about my decision to quit. So you can see what I mean when I call it an amazing thing. Why they all decided to compliment me at once, without knowing that others were doing it too, will remain a mystery to me. But it's those people that made me rethink my decision.
And because of a message left on my answering machine, I found out, at least to some degree, why my supporters remain quiet and invisible. It was from a person who owns a business in the area and he said that as much as he supports me, he cannot afford to alienate even one customer with any kind of public support for either me or my perspectives. It was the reason I had suspected for a long time but this was the first time anyone had ever come out and admitted it.
Because Republicans outnumber Democrats by over a four-to-one margin in this area, obviously most of his customers are Republican and if he publicly supports a Democrat, his business is likely to suffer. And since I know how both Republicans and Democrats roll, I'm sure that's true.
So to make a long story short, I guess I'll write a few more columns. I don't like alienating people and making them angry and upset because I chose McCook as my home town, it didn't choose me. I could have gone in a lot of different directions when I applied for a teaching job at the college but this was the place I picked and this is where I've stayed. I enjoy it most of the time. I socialize with people, play golf with people, and hang out with people who are mostly Republicans. We just always agree not to talk about politics because few if any people have ever been won over to the other side during a political discussion that, more often than not, ends up in a political argument.
Now that the election is over, I'll try and stay away from politics as much as possible because I know what I write is going to be disliked by most of you. A movie star once said, "I don't care what they say about me as long as the spell my name right."
I used to be that way too. I'm not anymore.