EXILED TO SAN ANTONIO RANCH
by Randy Ford
Ted: No one forced me out of congress. I decided on my own it was time to leave. No one pressured me. No group pressured me. My party pressured me to leave. The Republicans weren’t involved. It was my decision. I thought it was time, and I left. I didn’t want to leave because there was so much more to do, much more. But it is a hell of a note to realize that I was out of step. It is a hell of a note to realize I was no longer relative. Hell, it felt as if I was wasting my time.
I am a hunter. Hell, now I have all the time in the world to hunt. And nobody can tell me I can’t hunt whenever I want to, and by God, who can stop me on my ranch. It don’t matter whether it’s hunting season or not, though I respect the law and have always respected the law. I make sure I never shoot a female. I’ve always respected females, always had an eye for females. There’s got to be rules. There’s got to be laws. There’s got to be regulations. Without regulations, laws, and rules, well hell, mucky- mucks would run everything, own everything, ruin everything leaving nothing for the working man. See what led to the Great Depression. Enough … enough politics. I’ve had enough politics. I’m retired.
Poor little man. Poor working men. I pity working men today. You can see how it is. Well, hell they haven’t gotten nowhere since Nixon. What can I say … since Nixon. And where does that leave me? Down here, on my ranch of over a thousands acres surrounded by mountains, grass lands with marshy springs and a floodplain that includes several swampy stretches. It’s part of an old Spanish land grant that stretched beyond the Mexican border. It was part of one ranch until I bought my over thousand acres. The ranch then stretched beyond the Mexican border, all the way south to the mountains you can see. God damn fence! God damn Border Patrol! Closed our border crossing. I voted for it, sadly, regretfully I voted for it. Can’t punch cattle through legally anymore, sadly, regrettably not anymore. Well, hell, it don’t seem like I can stay away from politics. But sadly I never called them on it … called them on closing or border crossing … pork! Sadly pork! Sadly I didn’t stand up for what I believed. Sadly, I didn’t stand up for my own interest. Pork! Goddamn pork! For national security, we have to make sacrifices. For security, we have to make sacrifices, or so we are told. Hell, I don’t know. I should know, but I don’t. I don’t know anymore. I have a lot friends on the other side, on the other side of the fence. I don’t know.
We have white-tailed deer, mule deer, and javelina, most commonly. I am hunter so imagine … well, hell, let’s not go there. Pronghorn antelope were introduced in the valley in the 1950’s, and I’m proud to say the heard now numbers a little over 100 animals. And I’m proud to say we’re relatively undisturbed, and our valley spans over 90,000 acres, mostly grassland … relatively undisturbed. It is one of the last remaining undisturbed remnants of grassland between California and Texas. Pardon my bragging since I’m a former Texan and forgive my grammar. It’s hard to forget where you came from. And since I am a former Texan, nobody should be able to force me to do a goddamn thing, nobody.
It’s surprising, even to me, we, Sally and I don’t have a trophy room. Sally has always been against hanging an animal head, as she put it “a poor animal head” on a wall, nowhere, no how, and in my house Sally rules. I guess I could put fish up, but it ain’t the same as a 13 point buck. No, it ain’t. Here I go again. Ain’t, ain’t, ain’t. Sometimes I cultivate poor grammar. And even if I made the tragic mistake of putting up a 13 point buck in my house, Sally would keep me in line and make me take it down. Yes, Sally rules our household. Yes, yes, I love her.
It’s a goddamn lie that I am a socialist. I am not a communist. It’s a goddamn lie that I am a communist or a socialist like I have been accused of being. I am an American first, an American. Now some people insist on calling me a socialist and make hay by making speeches about it. And they say all Speaker Ted Thompson wants is to turn the United States into a socialist country like Norway or Sweden. Well, that’s not true. Norway and Sweden are great countries, but Norway and Sweden aren’t the United States of America.
But even if I made the mistake of owning a trophy room and dividing the country more than it is, I wouldn”t hang a deer head up in it. I wouldn”t., would not. I love deer too much to do it. Still I’m a hunter, love hunting. I grew up hunting. I grew up here. My shooting deer for sport! Never!
I’ve always insisted that I am a rancher, foremost a rancher, born a rancher, and will die a rancher. People think I make my money elsewhere. It’s true, too true that it takes a lot money to win elections … millions of dollars to win an election, and it’s true, too true. And I’ve won many elections. But that’s not my money. I’ve earned my money ranching … like my pappy and his pappy before him … earned their money ranching. And I think we can all agree: it takes too much money to win elections. And many people helped. And some didn’t wamt to. And I … I’ve never raised campaign money and then use it for personal used. I’ve always earned my money ranching.
This stuff about me and fat cats is a goddam lie. I never accepted a bribe. I’m as honest as a clear sky in Arizona is most of the year.
All I can say is that it’s a goddam lie, and it wasn’t why I gave up the speaker ship and left congress … whether I stayed or not it wouldn’t have made a difference. The tide had turned. The President congratulated me for years of public service and told me that he thought it was an outrage that I was forced out, forced out by my party, forced out by my friends in congress. After our meeting, I wasn’t sure how The President really felt, while he told me he appreciated what I had done and that he considered me a friend, always a friend. There was no disagreement between us and no acrimony. And he and I had a drink together, and he sat there in a chair across from me while I sat on a couch. We had no debate or no argument, and I hadn’t asked to see him in the White House. He summoned me. And if you’ve heard that we had a disagreement of any kind, it is bullshit. The next day, I flew to Tucson, a civilian. I had a car waiting for me.
Some now say I strayed too far left and no longer represented people who sent me to congress. Left? Left! Where is left? What raced through my mind as I resigned was that. Who changed? When had the tide turned. Why hadn’t I seen it? What was going on in the country? I knew I hadn’t changed. I knew I was the same me. And the thought that I am out of step, by God, it was inconceivable to me.
The reason I resigned and didn’t choose to fight was that I loss my influence. No, no, it can’t be true. What was going on in Washington or what is going on in Washington … well, as of today … I feel congress has been highjacked, highjacked out from under me. I thought it was a conspiracy and I raised that question and I couldn’t get an honest answer. I raised the question and didn’t get an honest answer … answers … there were no answers that I could see. I didn’t think I had a choice, so I got on a plane, an ordinary plane as a civilian …. waiting in line like everyone else, came home to my ranch, flew to Tucson, where I had a car waiting for me. Wearing shades, I stood in line at the airport like everybody else.
I thought the most important thing for me to do was not to be an obstructionist. If the country, the country as a whole, the country I love, had moved away from me, away from what I stood for, if, if, if, then I thought I should get out of the way. I knew we lost, or were on the losing end of a great battle, battle loss and I didn’t want to be an obstructionist, or a sore loser signifying nothing. I’ve always wanted to be relative. I didn’t want to go down in history as an obstructionist, an obstructionist as so many of my colleagues have.
There is an implication, of course, that I gave up, when the implication to me was that I could serve my country better and more effectively outside of congress and that I could do more good here at my ranch than in Washington. I have a telephone. People can come to me. There is a road to my ranch, though it is dirt, and they will come. I will have more influence here than in Washington.
And I don’t have to deal with distractions here. I don’t have a staff here, outside of my ranch foreman and a few ranch hands. Well, now there’s Sally. I don’t know that there’s anyway of saying it other than admit that Sally is in charge of everything here, everything concerning the ranch, and in charge of me, and in charge of the hands and the cattle. I don’t know how to say it except admit that the ranch belongs to Sally. When I first ran for office, I signed the deed over to her for a dollar. It made sense then, and it makes sense now. You know, life is simpler that way. You know it leaves me time to do what I do. I can call some guy and talk all day, or I can call some guy’s secretary and say, “Honey, how’s your day.” I call all secretaries “honey,” and I know they think I mean it. And the great thing is Sally don’t mind.
I think I should be able to call anyone “honey,” if I felt like it. In a democracy such as ours, I should be able to call anyone “honey,” if I want to. In a democracy, no one should be placed on a pedestal. But when I call a woman “honey,” I am always proper, always dignified, always respectful. I respect women, all women. And the greatest thing that happened to me was when I met one special woman named Sally.