Joe and I try our best to keep Your Mileage May Vary nonpolitical, as we’re very aware that we have readers from all over the world who may or may not care about our opinions about politics of our or anyone else’s country. Even more importantly ours is a travel blog and we feel that travel should be a way to bring people together, not separate them, like the politics of today seems to be doing.
But when we got wind from Gary at View From The Wing that a well-known U.S. politician has taken to the road and started a travel blog, we just had to share because, well, a big-time politician is traveling around the country and writing about it in a freakin’ travel blog, you guys! 😉
After a loss to Ted Cruz in the Texas Senate race in 2018, Beto O’Rourke has apparently been deciding if he wants to run in the 2020 Presidential election. His way to think about this and I guess to kind of check out the waters is to drive from city to city, meeting and talking to John and Jane Q. Public. He’s done something like this before; when he was running for Senate; he drove to every single county in Texas and met people – got an idea of what they were doing, thinking, looking for, etc. But this time, instead of limiting himself to Texas, he’s driving through a bunch of other states, too. And he’s writing about his journey on Medium, sharing anecdotes about the places he’s going, the things he’s seeing and the people he’s meeting on the road. Here are some excerpts of some of his travels:
…He introduced me to the instructors, the head of the wind energy club, and his fellow students. I learned about how they are learning. Had a chance to introduce myself, asked questions about the program they’re in, about Tucumcari, about where they’re originally from. About how what they’re doing fits into the larger picture — climate change, economic opportunity, infrastructure investment. How it fits into their picture — the job they’re looking for, the purpose they want, the opportunity that’s opened up for them. What it’s like to climb that high, to use a wrench for the first time in your life, to know that you’re on a track and that there’s a destination.
…I left Liberal with a full stomach, and with gratitude for my hosts at Southwind. But since I came in at night and left in a fog, I had no idea what the town really looked like.
The same was true on the stretch of 54 that took me to Bucklin. Two lanes and no passing because you couldn’t really see the oncoming traffic. I stopped in Meade, saw where the Dalton gang had their hideout, and moved on.
Wrote for a little while at the hotel and then drove over to the history museum. One of the best I’ve ever seen. Matt calls it the Eighth Wonder of Kansas. I was the only person in there with the exception of the staff and someone cleaning the carpets in the back.
I learned about the prairie and the buffalo and the people who lived there before European settlers arrived. Saw replicas of the sod houses of the first townspeople of Ulysses. Read about the big cattle drives brought to an end by barbed wire, the farms that grew in their place. Mechanized farming, in the words of the museum exhibit, “converted the High Plains into one gigantic wheat field by 1930.” Drought and overuse of the land stripped the top soil and then prolonged winds picked up the dust into massive black roller clouds that devastated communities like Ulysses. Families cleaned their homes with shovels instead of brooms. The water was fouled, the air was sometimes unbreathable. The farmers were left with nothing, nothing to grow, nothing to eat, nothing to offer for the next generation.
…This kind of conversation wasn’t really possible by the end of the Senate campaign this past fall. The schedule had become too intense, too much in a day to spend enough time to hear someone’s story all the way through. Too may stops, so many people. I was really glad that we could take the time and hear each other out in Pueblo….
…A veteran spoke about enlisting on September 18, 2001. After years of fighting for this country, of being blown up for this country, he’d come back to an America that had no real appreciation of his sacrifice. A country that was divided, bickering, paralyzed by fighting one another. Why can’t we choose to be good to each other? he asked.
Some of the larger U.S.-based publications are congratulating O’Rourke for this move while others are lambasting him for it, and because he’s a politician, I can see how and why both of those are easily happening. But to be honest, I don’t care – a politician is traveling and writing about his travels. That’s all I need to know right now.
Beto O’Rourke’s got many thousands of followers but is only following about 140 people. Most are politicians, with a few newspaper people (mainly reporters and editors), and music-related blogs in there. Didn’t notice any travel bloggers, but that’s OK…I know he’s busy. But if he’d like to follow Your Mileage May Vary, we certainly wouldn’t mind 😉 Oh, and just to keep things even, if a right-leaning politician started a travel blog and wanted to follow YMMV, that’d be OK too ;-).
If you want to check out O’Rourke’s blog, click here.
**H/T to Gary at View From the Wing
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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary