Wednesday, February 22, 2017

My Ed Garvey Story

Remembering the progressive leader who fought the good fight in Wisconsin

I formally met Ed Garvey just once in my life, at a political celebration honoring then-State Rep. Frank Boyle, a Democrat from Superior, Wisconsin. I was still a greenhorn to Wisconsin politics — I was in college, and my father had suggested we attend this celebration.

Garvey was the kind of guy you knew was a big deal, even if you didn’t know much about state politics, which admittedly I didn’t have a complete understanding of at the time (I preferred to write about George W. Bush and national issues during this point in my life). Boisterous, jovial, and kind-hearted, he took time to shake my hand and hear my story, even though I was just a college kid that didn’t know the names of half the people in the room (though I should have). I told him I was a progressive writer for the student newspaper; he encouraged me to keep writing.

I’ll never forget his kindness. And I’ll always remember his fiery passion for progressivism. I attended a few Fighting Bob Fests, which Garvey founded, in the years after that initial meeting. “Passion” is an understatement — Garvey was a master of the podium, captivating and thrilling the audiences he spoke to...including a young wannabe-writer who was still discovering his own passion for politics.

I was saddened to hear of Garvey’s passing this afternoon. I didn’t have a close personal connection to him, but his presence in my life was still meaningful, and I’m glad I did get to meet him, at least that one time, and hear him speak in person when I had the chance.

His life’s work needs to be carried on by all of us now. We especially need to fight for fair (and corporate-free) elections, to ensure our elected leaders are beholden to the people, and not to the highest bidders.

Ed Garvey was a great man. What more needs to be said? Thanks, Ed, and we’ll keep fighting the good fight.

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