So, you all know my mother is a Libertarian, right? Remember this post? Well, it should come as no surprise that her husband is a Libertarian too…and definitely more hard core. While some Libertarian-based theories and ideas are interesting, perhaps even valid, there’s not been much wide-spread public support for Libertarian political candidates. They’re like the Socialist candidates – too extreme, too “out there”, too unfamiliar. Some Libertarians use a Republican cloak in an attempt to appeal to more of the mainstream crowd, but it doesn’t usually work. Ron Paul, anyone?
My stepfather, recently, did the same. Except that he was elected. To public office. County Council. I know, right?
My mom didn’t make a big deal about it. In her usual fashion, Bethany and I received an email saying something like, “well, Bill won, despite the media backlash”. Excuse me? “Media backlash”? What media backlash? She hadn’t said anything really about his campaign or the political atmosphere in Erie. I require more detailed information than simply “media backlash”, thank you very much.
So I called her and she said that he had been being harassed via phone and in-person on a daily basis by various local reporters and journalists. But, she said he was also receiving lots of calls from people as far away as California offering their support, encouragement and admiration. I guess when you hold extreme beliefs, you get extreme responses in return.
The next day, I received the Inside Erie online newsletter with the headline, “The Meaning of Beeman”. Whoa. Hey, that’s my mom’s husband! Ebert Beeman – known to friends and family as Bill. I would give you the link to the editorial written by Pat Howard, but it appears to be the only broken link on the Inside Erie website. Hmm. So here it is, if you want to read it:
"As I followed this region’s election night results on our live blog on GoErie.com, a member of the blog’s audience weighed in with an intriguing question. Did voters in southern Erie County choose Ebert G. Beeman for County Council in part to thumb their noses at interference by “elites” north of Interstate 90?
The question involves a reversal of the situation in upstate New York. Sort of.
In Beeman’s case, the local GOP powers that be, led by the county Republican Party, decided Beeman was too conservative – or simply too, well, out there – and urged voters to write in incumbent Republican Councilman David Mitchell, who had planned to retire. This newspaper’s Editorial Board also endorsed the Mitchell write-in campaign.
Mitchell siphoned off quite a few votes. But not enough to stop Beeman.
The Republican Party apparatus turned on Beeman as a result of some curious political views and practices – ranging from running afoul of the Internal Revenue Service to the tune of $2 million, to not having a valid driver’s license because of a dispute with the state, to advocating the sale of the Erie County Public Library.
In fact, county Republican Chairman Brad Moore claimed Beeman told party officials that he’s really a Libertarian and only ran as a Republican to appear more mainstream.
As Erie Times-News reporter Lisa Thompson detailed after the election, Beeman’s colorful views and paper trail might raise some issues as he prepares to settle into public office. And even when he does, he’ll hold just one of seven votes on council.
But the blog visitor’s question remains. Were people in the southern reaches of the county sending a message to Erie-area elites?
It’s no secret that a good many folks in our county’s southern tier feel they don’t get the attention they deserve from a government run out of a courthouse in the heart of the city of Erie. In the campaign for county executive, both parties’ nominees pledged not to forget the county doesn’t end at I-90.
There’s bound to be some of that when the county seat sits at the northern edge of the county, and well over half of the population lives in and around it. And one could see why people in southern Erie County might bristle at folks from up north telling them whom to vote for.
In any event, it will be interesting to watch when Beeman brings his unusual views to Erie’s halls of power. If he can find a ride to get there."
Bill's “curious views and political practices” were detailed in this article. And in this article.
Last week, when I received the latest installment of Inside Erie, the comments section was bursting with readers’ responses to “The Meaning of Beeman” editorial.
Here’s some of what was written:
“Maybe Ebert Beeman will bring some common sense to the council table. We definitely could use some.”
“Ebert Beeman: The voters might be in revolt to the same old status quo. We need a big change in all of the political arenas. This might be the start. It is long overdue. I am not saying I am in his corner, but we need big changes.”
“Great! Another one of Glenn Beck’s minions. Just who we need on County Council.”
“Ebert Beeman’s election is a sign of plain stupidity. Who in his or her right mind would want this yahoo in public office? I don’t care what kind of message I wanted to send. I would want the most qualified person in that position, not some jerk who will cause only havoc. He has already caused a big stir for nothing. Public officials should be above reproach, not someone who can’t figure out how to live within the boundaries of the law. To me, that is just plain stupid.”
“Ebert Beeman was elected because taxpayers are sending the message that the spending has to stop.”
“Let’s hope that Ebert Beeman brings much-needed new ideas to council. After all, he is their elected representative and should be treated with respect, not quips about his ability to find a ride to council meetings. “Grow up” comes to mind, as does “waaaaah”!”
“Ebert Beeman only has one vote on County Council, but I’m sure it will be the “one” that will make or break a lot of things going on in county government. So maybe “the powers that be, north of I-90” should pay a bit more attention to the rest of the county.”
Okay first of all, Bill is nothing like that raving lunatic Glenn Beck. He may have some “curious political views and practices” but he’s not an idiot.
He watches Bonanza re-runs. And held the family cat like a baby. He likes to grind his own coffee beans. He enjoys moving dirt around in his yard and wears straw hats with holes in them.
If you met him at a party, you might think he was reserved, even shy. He isn’t very tall. He doesn’t enjoy meaningless small-talk, but mention politics and he’s suddenly animated - in a gruff sorta way that isn't so much intimidating as entertaining.
He once rescued me from a snake that my cat thoughtfully brought into my bedroom. He doesn’t particularly like rules that don’t make sense to him, but he does like quirky people. He can’t cook, but once offered to make my mom dinner. “Dinner” consisted of KFC and Hostess Twinkies.
He once tried to start up a pirate radio station that never quite got off the ground. He concocts weird schemes and tells you about them with a glinty eye so you never quite know if he's serious or not. His sister in New York state, who I've housesat for, has a really sweet Old English Sheep dog. And his mother insists we use her pool in the summer.
He may be unconventional, quirky, definitely something of a scoff-law, but he's no Glenn Beck. He may be idealistic, but he's also intelligent. And he may loathe the government with a white-hot fury, but he wouldn't do anything to endanger the rights of the people. Love him or hate him, he's just another human being with maybe some unconventional ideas.