BEDFORD, N.Y. – “This is me; this is what I’m about,” said Catherine Crier, standing outside the horse barn on her Bedford farm on a beautiful autumn Saturday while surrounded by three of her six dogs.
Crier, the author and award-winning journalist who has covered national and international news for CNN, ABC, Fox and Court TV, moved to Bedford in 1993 and has made it her home ever since.
“I’m a Texas girl and when I moved to New York City I knew I wouldn’t survive if I didn’t get some space,” she said. “I need birds, dogs, horses and frogs.”
In 1993, Crier rented a car and drove north from the city through western Connecticut and Westchester County looking for space. She found Bedford.
“I fell in love with the community, and I thought this would be an easily commutable distance [to New York],” she said. “I’ve created my farm here with my vegetable garden, bees and horses. My next step is to build some chicken coops.”
Crier doesn’t rely on staff to do the work; she doesn’t mind getting her hands dirty.
“I grew up mucking stalls,” she said. “Being [in Bedford] is a way to maintain my sanity instead of having to listen to trash trucks in the middle of the night.”
While the distinctive aroma associated with mucking barn stalls may not bother her, the stench emanating from the current political landscape in America does. Crier has become concerned with the partisan ideology, false assumptions and dangerous rhetoric she said has permeated American politics and the media that covers it. That concern became the impetus behind her latest book, “Patriot Acts” (Simon & Schuster). Crier said there was no particular tipping point or last straw that sent her scampering to her word processor to write “Patriot Acts,” but rather a gradual and growing despair.
“I carry the seeds around with me for books or speeches until they get pushed forward,” she said. “To listen to the rhetoric and ideology and see how divorced it is from what the Founding Fathers had to say, I began to fear for our country. It had me so concerned I wanted to go back and write about the Founding Fathers and what they were about.”
Crier believes that politics have become so partisan it has polarized the process to the point where nothing can get accomplished. She points out that politicians often use the Constitution to bludgeon home their points of view, noting with irony that the document was once called “the great compromise.”
“The Founding Fathers wanted to create a level playing field,” she said. “It was an amazing moment in time. Both sides let go of their power.”
Now, she said, neither side of the aisle will let go. She contended that it isn’t the system that’s broken, but the people who work in it.
“It’s an assault on the republic and we have to defend this system of government,” she said, “because without it, all is lost.”
Crier said that when the Tea Party was originally formed, it had the right idea, “objecting to Wall Street’s bailout as Main Street crumbled.” But then, she said, the movement was co-opted by those with a social agenda – guns, gays and God – and the original message got lost.
She also notes that there’s been an attack on intellectualism and science as conservative critics often try to paint it as “elitism.” She pointed out that getting an education and possessing an intellectual curiosity used to be the cornerstone of conservative philosophy.
“When I grew up in Texas, it was, ‘You damn well better go to college,’” she said. “You were expected to contribute. They encouraged innovation, growth and development.”
Crier said she hopes the book will inspire Americans to put their country above their own self-interests and to become a patriot, not just in word but in deed.
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