By Marc Steiner
Brad grew up in a house two doors down from the house I grew up in. We went to the same high school. He ran cross-country, track & field, and competed in the state meet—just like I did.
Brad is 50 years old. He lives in the same house he grew up in. He has a mustache and wears plaid shirts with Wranglers. If he had more free time, he would spend it fishing. Brad’s father was born in the same town and worked as a truck driver. Brad doesn’t speak—he talks.
When I was younger Brad worked as a logger. He had a bumper sticker that proved it. It was an anti-environmentalist joke advocating wiping your ass with a spotted owl to save trees. Once in a while he would come home with a buck in the bed of his truck, dripping blood with its tongue hanging out. He also brought home firewood for the entire neighborhood.
Now Brad works as a farmhand for a family-owned organic farm. The farm totals 14,000 acres and makes almost $50 million a year. Brad sometimes works 16-hour days. He makes less than $12,000 for an eight-month season. I don’t think this is what people imagine when they think of organic, non-GMO, sustainable farms.
Despite this income difference, Brad’s political philosophy aligns with the family he works for. Brad has health problems but is against universal healthcare. He votes for politicians that benefit the people he works for and not people like himself.
Brad and I stand on opposing sides of the political spectrum. He serves as someone for me to think about when anybody speaks poorly about people with different beliefs than their own. I have the utmost respect for Brad. He treats people with only kindness and charity. He always smiles. He is a red-blooded-flag-waving American, but he also transcends the stereotype of what many would consider him—a “redneck.” I think many liberals would point to him as a political problem. I think of him as a good person.
He is a hero of mine.