“I'm an equal opportunity offender and always have been.”—Kinky
Just two weeks before the election and the Rio Rojo Cattlemen's Association still hadn't decided who to endorse as the next governor of the Lone Star State.
“I suspect this is a whole lot like it was when the Democrats started moving opposite of what the people wanted,” lamented Peetie Womack. “Most of you are too young to remember that the Democrats used to dominate the elections here like the Republicans have in recent years.”
“Never have so many with so much accomplished so little for so few,” said Hooter, shuffling through a pile of newspaper clippings. “How can you have all the political power behind you, but you can't even figure out how to fund public education?”
“And when you do, the solution is this damnable margins tax that is going to cost ranchers and small business while making the accountants richer,” gruffed Lonnie Johnson.
The fact that Peetie and the boys were even discussing their gubernatorial vote would have been unthinkable just a few short years ago—just go with the Republican candidate and move on.
Much like the national scene, though, the folks in Rio Rojo County were growing more concerned about the political direction of the state, but the alternative cures looked worse than the disease.
“It's kind of like a speaker I heard at the cattle feeder's convention,” said cousin Charlie. “The greatest strength Republicans have today is the fact that the Democrats don't have much of anything to say to anyone that is useful to anyone.”
Then Along Came Kinky
At first, the notion of endorsing a gubernatorial candidate who openly supported gay marriage was akin to sending a cash donation to an animal rights group. But what do you do when the same candidate just as vehemently says public prayer should be returned to its proper place in the school and that the 10 Commandments should be displayed in public because they're Commandments not suggestions?
“You can't very well save someone without offering them the Word first,” said Aunt Pinky, who had come to the meeting at the War Wagon Saloon, “to be heard and not seen.”
What do you do with a guy who believes political correctness should be shelved in place of actual honesty and common sense? Then he goes about his business doing just that, saying what's on his mind, unconcerned about who gets their feathers ruffled.
Most recently, Friedman's opposition was calling him on the carpet over what they termed racist comments. Certainly the language was colorfully used in an off-color sort of way. But how could you expect less from a guy who had a band in the 1970's called the Texas Jewboys? Since day one, Friedman—himself Jewish—has made a career out of forcing folks to consider their own hypocrisy.
“The thing that still bothers me is his qualifications,” said Izzy. “Even if you agree with the majority of what he says, even if you agreed with all of it, could he actually run things if he was elected?”
There was some head nodding on that one.
“If he stayed true to putting the best qualified people in place to run the administration, yeah,” said Hooter. “But there's no guarantee.”
“Never is,” said Charlie.
“What we do know is that what we've got now isn't working,” pointed out Peetie.
Without prompting and in unison the group gleefully recited one of Friedman's campaign slogans: “Texas—first in executions, last in education—how's that working for you?”
“It's because of those idiotic tests,” said Nelda Isselfrick, who had slipped in unnoticed. As a former school teacher, Nelda had campaigned long and hard against the so-called proficiency tests that now preoccupied too much teacher-student learning time. “They learn how to take a specific test and not much else. And Heaven help the special needs children who used to have a chance of being matriculated into the main stream. There's no time for them now, with these horrible, horrible tests.”
Solemn nods all around.
“And, at least he's got a plan to address illegal immigration, rather than some pie in the sky nonsense about building walls,” said Charlie.
“Yeah, I especially like his notion to basically pay Mexican generals for their ability to keep folks from crossing,” said Jackson. “The point being, if you're going to do something about it, make it stick. If you're not, quit flapping your gums.”
Stranger Things Have Happened
“When you listen and read, the true conservatives agree with lots of his platform,” said Peetie. “The same less-government, more-opportunity crowd that brought the elephant to the dance to begin with.”
“And, the non-traditional voter,” said Peetie. “The folks who usually don't turn out at the polls, in self-defense, I might add; there's a bunch of them for him right now.”
“Listen to this off his website,” said Charlie: “‘The parties sell themselves to big donors, lobbyists control the legislature's agenda, and the top fundraising groups in the state are being indicted for money laundering. Corruption and big money have such a chokehold that the two major parties blew $100 million in the last governor's race to elect a candidate to a job that pays $100,000 a year. And for all that money spent, less than 30 percent of us bothered to show up at the polls.'”
“That's what I'm talking about. You get another 10 percent of folks at the polls, he stands more than a chance,” said Peetie.
“Still, there hasn't been an Independent win here since Sam Houston,” said Izzy.
“Yeah, but backing a winner doesn't necessarily mean the one who wins, you know?” said Hooter.
“Plus, he launched his campaign at the Menger Hotel,” said Delmar Jacobs, without slurring a single word.”
“What's that got to do with anything?” demanded Jackson.
“That's where Captain Richard King used to stay,” said Delmar. “Still does, if you believe the folks who have seen his ghost.”
“All I'm saying is that he has a sense of state history and pride.”
“Delmar's right,” said Aunt Pinky with a sparkle in her eye the boys hadn't seen in some time. “Besides which, if there are enough true Texans left, he's got more than a chance. “Like Mr. Kinky has said, ‘Texans are a very independent people. Tell us what not do and we'll do it every time.'”