<\body> Stories in America: Camping with Democrats

Friday, May 13, 2005

Camping with Democrats

What a treat it was to find the only vegetarian restaurant in Kerrville after being in Crystal City for a few days, where the beans are cooked in bacon. The Italian and German owners of the new restaurant said the locals have yet to embrace the healthy lifestyle and believe their family is a "bit whacky." A few people walked by, looked at the menu and moved on.

On the drive back from the restaurant, we spotted yet another 24-Hour Wal-Mart Supercenter and an endless array of Churches. I saw 14 Churches, all within a three mile radius, including First Baptist, Zion Lutheran, St. Paul's United Methodist, Impact Christian Fellowship and Kingdom Hall of Jehovah's Witnesses. I then looked in the phone book to find 72 Churches in town, all of which are packed on Sundays, according to the owner of a local BBQ restaurant that's been around for 23 years. It's a typical old fashioned BBQ joint, complete with deer heads, guns and old newspaper articles on the walls, and Wonder Bread on every table. When I walked in, Fox News was blaring, so I assumed the owners were Republicans. I was wrong. They're lifelong Democrats who say they never talk politics with their Republican customers. It seems every Democrat I meet here is in the closet.

After returning to KOA, I decided to knock on few RV doors. The man with the "W '04" sticker on his truck sternly said he wasn't interested in being interviewed, but the man with the "God Bless Our Troops" ribbon on his truck was more than happy to talk. I enjoy approaching people here, because unlike the Bay Area, I never know what I'm going to find. John Waters, 74, didn't waste any time revealing his politics. John has been a full-time RVer since 1991.

Here are excerpts from that interview:

A woman and her dad came here one day looking for a restroom. I pointed one out for them and she spoke of this being Kerryville. I was tempted to say, Damn, I wish it was.

What's it like being a Democrat in this area?

Well, I don't broadcast it too much. It absolutely amazes me because I'm really more independent now, although recently I've typically voted more Democrat than Republican. For the first roughly 2/3 of my voting, I typically voted Republican. That was the family tradition.

Why'd you switch over from Republican to Democrat?

I've become more interested and more aware and sought more information and considered things more carefully than I did before. There are some differences in the party, but the way I see it, the parties have flip-flopped quite a bit in the past couple of decades.

Did you like Kerry or was your vote a vote against Bush?

I greatly dislike Bush. I'm so greatly disappointed with our election process that I think I shall not vote again until such a time when the elections are totally government funded.

When did you make that pledge?

Just recently, after the last election. I see more and more warts. The parties have polarized people and I think that polarization comes about more from the Republicans than the Democrats, but neither one of them really are as good as they should be.


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