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Mr. Casey goes to Washington

Motivated by what he considers government gone astray, Ralph Casey is headed to Washington, D.C., in hopes of making his opinions known.
A 69-year-old farrier and owner of a horseshoeing school in Villanow, Ga., Casey says he is tired of hearing people complain about politics, then doing nothing to fix it.
After running his business for 21 years, writing two books, developing a series of DVDs and hosting his own television show, “Horseshoe’n Time,” Casey has turned the work over to his son and is semi-retired. But he says he is sick of seeing money go everywhere to help everyone except small local businesses.
“We can bail out banks and send money overseas, but we can’t help small companies expand so they can create more jobs,” Casey says. Watching local politicians lie in order to get elected, he said, was the last straw for him.
So, Casey hitched up his Exmoor horses to his covered wagon and started rolling toward Washington D.C., “to ask some simple questions.”
Once he gets there, he would love to talk to federal lawmakers as well as President Barack Obama. “But,” Casey says, “they probably won’t give me the time of day.”
Casey has already sent a proposal for business development to Washington, but has gotten no response. Despite that, he says he is determined to do what he can to influence other people to do their part politically as individuals.
“A lot of people are like me,” Casey says. “We work hard and come home in the evening and we’re tired and don’t feel like listening to the news or reading a newspaper. We just go along and expect our politicians to be honest. But of course, they’re not as honest as they seem.”
Casey believes people are just voting along party lines instead of really listening to what candidates are saying.
“We’re so busy making a living that we aren’t paying attention,” he said.
It was hard not to pay attention to Casey’s wagon as he approached Jonesborough on May 16. Aside from the fact that very few covered wagons are on public highways these days, Casey’s is decked out with an American flag and a large banner that reads, “Going To D.C. To Get Answers For The Small Businessman.”
Casey recommends taking the “on the road” approach to creating awareness – especially to those in public office.
“The politicians need to get a horse and wagon and go around the country to find out what is going on. They’ve lost touch with the everyday people,” Casey said.
A survivor of two heart attacks, Casey says he plans to cover 15-20 miles a day and camp out at night. Traveling at a speed of four miles per hour, he figures it will take him another three to three-and-a-half weeks to reach the nation’s capitol.
His trip hasn’t been without mishap.
Casey had a run-in, literally, with a motorist in Greeneville who was texting while driving east on Highway 11E. She collided with Casey’s wagon, doing damage to both vehicles.
But Casey seems to have taken it all in stride. Uninjured, he has praise for the kind people he has met along the way including “a nice man at the Kubota business who came to my aid,” after the texting incident.
“He worked on my wagon almost all day and wouldn’t charge me a penny,” Casey says. “The woman’s car that hit me had more damage, though, than my wagon did.
“I enjoy meeting these nice people. I had gotten to where I thought nobody cared, but they do care. They care a lot.”
Casey’s journey started in Chatsworth, Ga. on Highway 411. He traveled to Highway 11 to Knoxville, and then followed 11E through Jonesborough on his way to Wytheville, Va. From there, Casey will take Highway 52 to Highway 58 in Martinsville, Va., a route that will end in Danville, Va. From Danville, Casey’s wagon will roll down Highway 360 to Richmond, then to Highway 1, which leads to Washington D.C.
Casey figures the whole trip will take him away from home for two to three months.
“I’m going to try my best to pull my wagon up in front of the White House or the Capitol Building, and I’ll get as close as I can. I am playing everything by ear,” he says.
“Maybe it’ll wake people up, get people to see that I’m ready to struggle. This is hard work and I’ve already lost 10 pounds, but we need to get off our rear ends and try to change things, instead of sitting back asking, ‘What can we do?’”