March 9th, 2006


My Brain and Texas Politics

Politics: When I was a kid, people used to tell me that I was very creative. As time has gone on, and I've learned to look at myself, I have begun to doubt this opinion more and more.

Give me a cube of marble, and I can do nothing at all with it. Unlike Michelangelo, I cannot see a shape under the marble and chip away until only the shape I want remains. If, however, you give me an irregularly-shaped piece of marble, I can do tons of things with it. I might shape it into one sculpture or many.

I'm that way with real-world problems, too. Ask me how to do something and, if left to my own devices, I will as often as not have no clue what to do. But let me observe someone else doing it, and I can immediately tell you how I would do it differently.

Thus, with Kinky Friedman's petition drive to get himself on the ballot as an independent candidate for Texas governor.

I didn't volunteer to collect signatures because I am decidedly non-intrusive. I'm not shy, exactly. If you approach me, I'll quite happily talk to you. But the idea of walking up to perfect strangers and asking them to sign a political candidate's petition paralyzes me. I won't do it. I thought the petition drive was going to be door-to-door, and there was no way that I could manage that.

Now, however, I see that they are setting up petition stations across the city at various times and places, so I see that voters could come to me. That makes me feel a lot more comfortable at the idea of volunteering.

Except I think they're going about it all wrong.

This is probably due more to the fact that I am more used to mainsteam candidates than I am used to someone like Kinky. Most of Kinky Friedman's Houston petition-signing stations are located in bars, pubs, and clubs, such as the Mucky Duck, for 2-4 hours a night. To me, this is insane. He needs to have petition stations open for at least eight or more hours a day at places where a lot of people typically go--ie, shopping malls and street corners. On the other hand, his strongest voter base probably is people who hang out in bars and pubs. If he wants to get on the ballot, he should go where his strongest base is and worry about appealing to the wider population after petition-signing deadline ends.

Quelle dilemma. Because if you don't have a presence that appeals to mainstream voters, you really have no chance of success. So I think, even for the petition drive, you really need to get away from your base and talk to people in grocery stores and shopping malls. Should I volunteer, I know where I want to go. I want to set up a table at the Randall's across the street from my house, where the Girl Scouts usually sell their cookies, and I would offer that as a venue for signature collection. I doubt it would be very effective, but at least it would be an attempt to make a showing among the mainstream population and get the word out that the Friedman option is available.

I think Kinky Friedman can and should be on the ballot. The more choices we have, the better, and Kinky's voice is a singularly open-minded one.
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