The Politics of Immovable Trains

Because I’m p-whipped without the p, I will vote in the Texas midterms and I will vote the way my wife tells me. (If you’re interested in the Poon Tang situation, I predicted Tom Brady will win more games this year than times I get laid. We currently are tied even though he’s in the middle of his worst season in two decades. He will find a way to win as he always does.)

Dave Chappelle had a funny joke about white people oversharing about their sex lives while being offended when asked about their voting decisions. I will try to keep both private, but here’s a hint:


We went to this echo-chamber rally with a dozen stirring sound bites and zero questions taken. My wife already had me sign some registration form and will chaperone me to a polling place of her choosing Nov. 8. If she could supervise over my shoulder, she would. Republicans concerned about voter fraud might want to take a look at our household.

I’m not mad about it. I told Beto he earned my vote, and he really did. I love great speakers and rhetoric. I can still recite the “Braveheart” and “Independence Day” speeches with about 95-percent fidelity. I created my own on a Nashville rooftop trying to rally a bachelor party around the concepts of passion, penetration and semen.

Because political change generally is incremental and reliant on less sexy local officials and implementation, the majority of people don’t notice a difference in their daily lives after elections. So you might as well vote for someone you like to hear talk.

I don’t know Beto would do a better job as governor, let alone the qualifications of the candidates for all those less sexy positions on the ballot I’m supposed to pick based solely on whether they have “DEM” next to their name.

Sure I hate guns and believe it’s obvious a woman owns her body. Straddling to the other side of the aisle, I prefer lighter taxes because I’ve seen and experienced firsthand the inefficiencies, waste and sometimes straight-up fraud that comes when budgets, org size and bureaucracy grow.

However, I stumbled on an interesting philosophical question at my favorite grocery store, Tom Thumb. A friendly middle-aged woman complimented the baby strapped to my chest and struck up a conversation. She doesn’t have any kids but helps out quite a bit with her sister, who has nine.

After the pleasant chat, the question occurred to me while picking out strawberries. This was one of many times a nice lady was nice to my baby in conservative Orange County, Calif., or Plano, Texas, where there’s a church the size of a Wal-Mart every few intersections. It’s a good bet at least a few of these affable strangers oppose abortion rights.

Is it my responsibility or even right to try to change anyone’s mind?

The Tom Thumb lady seemed like a kind, well-adjusted person. Anyone willing to take care of someone else’s kids approaches sainthood in my book. I can count on two hands how many times some of my family members have offered to babysit, even if I were a double amputee. Frankly I would rather them be helpful Republicans than unhelpful Democrats.

One of these family members once said, “If you voted for Trump, you’re racist,” and I just thought that was so dumb and it made me hate the internet briefly. It’s ironic because saying something like that is kind of like being racist — not having enough open-mindedness and exposure in the non-internet, some might call real world.

To be fair, I also can’t avoid losing some objectivity when I hear someone is a Trump diehard, card-carrying Southern Republican, or resident of Florida. Not sure if that’s because I lived the last 16 years in California, where some folks have written off the entire state of Texas as a wasteland of conservative anti-everybodies.

I didn’t know what to expect moving back here. I felt curiosity tinged with a bit of uneasiness about what it would be like given the headlines coming out of Texas. The immediate surprise was the diversity of my kids’ school in suburban Frisco. A young woman in a hijab greets us at the front desk every day, often sitting next to the head of school, a Black woman.

There were ornate celebrations last week for Diwali and Día de Los Muertos. My older son is in a Mandarin immersion class with Black and Turkish girls. My endearing white father-in-law had to ask a few times after seeing pictures, “So all of these kids are in a Mandarin class?”

On a train ride into the city, we started out by helping a French family of four plan their route. We then gave directions to a Black woman with her daughter, which were supplemented by tips from a young husky Black man who looked like the rapper Xzibit.

A Hispanic man with tattoos the length of his arm offered to give up his spot, so I could park our embarrassing two-seat UPPAbaby stroller motorcade. My multi-cultural experience was rounded out standing shoulder-to-shoulder with what you might picture as a caricature redneck: loud, missing teeth, thick Southern drawl, dropping curse words almost accidentally while holding his Aryan-looking baby. He was nice, and we traded thoughts on parenting.

Really any city or place with some population density is going to resemble your city more than you might think. My guess is you will find a bunch of people just being people, regardless of political bent. That to me is a very good thing, to have a baseline of predictability and decency independent of the talking heads.

Writer’s note: If you spend any amount of your finite time reading the absurdities in this blog, we are either friends or highly compatible strangers. Thus I feel close enough to ask for your email address below. The only email you will ever get from me is one post per month until I die or you unsubscribe. You can also reply to that email and I will reply back, thereby making us pen pals. Thank you!