For reasons known only to God, Allah, Buddha, or L. Ron Hubbard, in 1986 I ran for justice of the peace in my hometown of Kerrville. Unfortunately, my fellow Kerrverts returned me to the private sector. I am not bitter. I believe that politics’ loss has been literature’s gain. I was mildly chagrined for a time at having lost the race to a woman, but finally I offered up 97 choruses of “Get Your Biscuits in the Oven and Your Buns in the Bed” and even graciously wrote her character into Armadillos & Old Lace, one of the thirteen mystery novels I’ve churned out since—I mean carefully crafted. Why did Pat Knox, a woman who’s not even five feet tall, beat me for J.P.? Part of the reason was that the locals reacted negatively to the five-man Today Show crew, headed by my friend Boyd Matson, who came down from New York to chronicle my campaign. “We’re not gonna let anyone tell us who to vote for” seemed to be the attitude. A similar situation occurred that same year when Kurt Waldheim was elected president of Austria despite world-wide protests. This actually gave rise to a new medical condition known as Waldheimer’s disease, in which you can’t remember that you used to be a Nazi.
The voters did, however, really seem to appreciate my campaign slogan: “If you elect me the first Jewish justice of the peace, I’ll reduce the speed limit to 54.95!” And that wasn’t the only campaign promise I was to make during the laborious course of this tragically misguided adventure. Another pledge that went over particularly well was “I’ll keep us out of war with Fredericksburg!”
For those folks who are new to Texas or just generally cookin’ on another planet, Fredericksburg is a little German town about twenty miles down the road from Kerrville. I don’t want to cast asparagus upon the Germans at this time because the German translations of my mystery books are turning out to be quite a financial pleasure for the Kinkster these days. In fact, at a book signing in Cologne recently, I met a woman who invited me to come to Paris, so I asked the German promoter how far it was. He thought about it for a momentand then said, “Oh, it’s about a four-day march.”
But it wasn’t former U-boat commanders who torpedoed my candidacy. It was my inability to appeal to the religious right. To me, the religious right has always seemed like the kind of place where if Jesus walked in with three nails, they’d probably put him up for the night. But I persevered. I even went so far as to become a Southern Baptist until I realized that they didn’t hold ’em under long enough. Today I’d no doubt be a Buddhist if it weren’t for Richard Gere.
Thus it was, because of my personal disillusionment with politics, that I finally became a charismatic atheist. About the only article of faith that we charismatic atheists truly cling to is the belief that ballet is basketball for homosexuals. Instead of the Four Questions traditionally asked at the Passover Seder by people of the Jewish persuasion, a charismatic atheist only asks two. They’re the same questions you hear every time you enter a singles bar in Dallas: “What do you do, and what do you drive?” The only downside to being a charismatic atheist is that when you die, your tombstone will probably read “All dressed up and no place to go.”
Yet as I wander through the raw poetry of time, I do not feel emotionally scarred by my defeat. In fact, I often encourage young people to go ahead and get into politics themselves. You see, I don’t like young people, and if they become involved in that worthless tar baby that is politics, the more chance there is that maybe they’ll leave me alone.
Without politics, of course, we wouldn’t have so many great opportunities for freedom of choice. Without politics, we wouldn’t have become this wonderful land of chain restaurants, chain bookstores, and chain people from sea to shining sea! We must again give thanks to the highly individualistic, stubbornly eccentric men and women who have made this country great. Just think, if it weren’t for that great American Johnny Appleseed, we wouldn’t have all those Applebee’s restaurants.
But now, I have hope once again in our political system, thanks to the election of George W. Bush as president. Not only that, but because of George’s moving to the White House, Texas now has its first Aggie governor, Rick Perry. Today, of course, we like to refer to these people as Agro-Americans.