Kinky Friedman may be best known for his run as an independent candidate in the 2006 Texas gubernatorial race, with slogans such as “Why the Hell Not?” and “My Governor is a Jewish Cowboy.” Previously he was the leader of the 1970s country band Kinky Friedman and the Texas Jewboys; among its hits were They Ain’t Makin’ Jews Like Jesus Anymore. He is also a mystery author who has written more than 25 books.
I spoke with Kinky Friedman recently about the upcoming presidential elections, politics, and religion. And Texas, of course.
(For the accompanying audio, you can click on the quotes)
What are you thoughts on the current presidential candidates?
Pretty uninspired, with most of them. And that’s a point that I feel pretty strongly about. That it’s George Washington’s worst nightmare.
What kind of person would be inspiring to the American public?
A number of political people have inspired me in my lifetime. Ann Richards. Ronnie Regan, to a degree. JFK, especially. Bobbie Kennedy. Paul Wellstone. Then before that, of course, when you get to the great American leaders, many of them were inspiring people. And none of them really put the party first. None of the ones like your Davey Crocketts, Teddy Roosevelts, Sam Houstons, George Washingtons, and Abe Lincolns. Those kind of people. A different kind of person is being drawn to politics now — a worse kind of person.
And you would say that one of the biggest problems is putting the party first?
Over your conscience and your constituents. Yeah. Plus they’re in so damn long. You know what I mean? I believe: Never reelect anybody. These people are in so long that politics is the only field in which the more experience you have the worse you get.
What do you think it would take to change or shake up the American political system and get some people that could be good for the public?
Well it’s not just the politicians to blame. A lot of it is the people. It’s apathy. Particularly like in Texas in this past governor’s race which was endemic. We had 28% of the people voting. With that you know what you’re going to get. It’s going to be a Crip or a Blood, the two bullies of the playground.