The Richmond News-Leader published my first news story and photograph in 1958, more than 61 years ago. I had not yet reached my teens.
On Thursday, The Floyd Press will publish three news stories and several photographs of sporting and musical events in our Blue Ridge area county. The Roanoke Times has published more than a dozen in 2021.
Two national political news websites have published 33 opinion columns about national government actions so far this year. Some have been critical of Democrats. Others have focused on questionable actions by Republicans.
Three columns last week questioned what I saw a poor handling of the American troop withdrawal by current President Joe Biden.
Yet a number of comments this week claimed I am a Democrat. Say what?
For the record, the only partisan political activities I have ever engage in came in the early 1980s, when I worked as an operative for the National Republican Party committees. I also worked as a press secretary for Rep. Paul Findley (R-Illinois), senior communications consultant for Rep. Manual Lujan Jr. (R-New Mexico) and chief of staff for Rep. Dan Burton (R-Indiana) and managed communications for Republican Congressional candidate Amory Houghton in Corning, New York.
In 1994, I walked away from all paid political activity after serving five years as Division Vice President for the National Association of Realtors in Washington, DC and returned to my profession of choice — a newspaperman.
During the two terms of Democratic President Bill Clinton, a wrote a lot about his checkered actions, including an affair with a White House intern and his questionable financial dealings in Arkansas
For the two following terms of Republican President George W. Bush, I reported on his lies that took this nation into an unnecessary war in Iraq, followed by critical stories about the many mistakes of the two term of Democratic President Barrack Obama.
Depending on the political party of the current occupants of the White House, I am called “rabid Republicans reactionary” or a “Democratic lib-tard.”
In reality, I’m a political agnostic who believes in the feelings of legendary Chicago newspaperman Finley Peter Dunne, who wrote that “it is the role of a newspaperman to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable.”
During my 12 years as a reporter, photographer and columnist for The Telegraph in Alton, IL, the city editor told me that “it is your job to piss off both sides. If you do that, you are doing your job.”
I don’t much care for partisans of any political stripe. If someone begins a conversation by saying something like “as a Republican” or “as a Democrat,” I normally ignore them and walk away. I have little use for anyone who buys into the lockstep beliefs of those who listen to the inane “leaders” of either party.
Stickers on the back of helmets for my motorcycles say it best:
I am not a Democrat,
I am not a Republican.
I am an American.
THERE IS A DIFFERENCE.