Could a Fat Smity Burger from the Olympic Peninsula bring people together?

Port Townsend – A lot of people think you shouldn’t mix business and politics. Casey Carson is not one of them.

From the big blue Trump banner in the window of his Fat Smitty restaurant in Discovery Bay to flyer-lined walls of local GOP candidates and sayings like “Don’t Steal: The Government Hates Competition”—you know exactly where he stands. .

This doesn’t sit well with all of his potential clients, many of whom are left from Puget Sound on their way to enjoy the natural wonders of the Olympic Peninsula. Every once in a while, someone calls or stops to tell him they won’t eat there because of his policy.

Does that bother him, I asked, as we chatted in the dining room after the lunch rush recently.

“That’s their right,” he said, without any hint of harsh feelings.

It is still a free country, after all.

Not everyone lets their distaste for Trump outweigh their craving for a hamburger fat smitty or a cup of chowder. I’ve stopped a few times in the past few months, and I always find a mix of locals and tourists like myself. They sneak or openly study the walls, which resemble political history: Ross Perot button a portrait of President George W. Breeze.

The satirical elements mocking big government liberals might be a little hard to swallow, but they keep coming back to sit at the gold Formica table worn by countless forearms hoisting hamburgers at regular intervals. This makes Carson’s Restaurant a rare political melting pot in these hyper-partisan days.

As candidates and political activists begin to speed up their engines for the midterm elections, I wonder how they plan to deal with people like Carson, who voted for former President Donald Trump but don’t fit the stereotype of a disgruntled, disaffected voter.

Carson, a retired State Forces officer and Marine veteran, says his decor is not about drawing a line, it’s about knowing what you represent. And anyway, he didn’t start the topic, but only pursued it after buying the restaurant twelve years before from the real chubby Smitty, Carl Schmidt, and his wife Mio (“Mickey”).

The place is the same, he says — Marines paraphernalia and a poster of Robbie Knievel, Eiffel’s son, jumped onto the Grand Canyon, and dollar bills affixed to the walls that piled up for years before being collected and donated to charity.

“My sister, who paid for her college in the 1980s and works at this restaurant, when I didn’t have her, could come in here and still find ketchup in the same place,” he says.

The more we talked, the more Carson reminded me of the small-town Republicans I knew in my years working in journalism in rural Oregon, Minnesota, and Iowa. They were not extremists. Their thoughts were halfway, and they were boring: People should be free to make their own choices and deal with their consequences, for the most part. Not every good idea needs (or should) become a law or government program. As an old man once said to me, “You can put all the laws on the books you want, but that won’t make people behave right.”

Perhaps these kinds of ideas emerge naturally in rural settings, where our interconnectedness is organic. When a farmer is injured during the harvest season, no one tells neighbors they should help get that family’s crop or direct relief efforts through a government hotline. They only do it because it is the right thing to do.

Here, about two hours from Seattle, on the northeast corner of Highway 101 between Blyn and Chimacum, one-size-fits-all solutions don’t always fit all, perfectly. The $14.49 minimum wage varies when the median household income in your area is half of what it is in King County.

“You have to understand,” Carson told me. “I’m still amazed that people are paying half a million dollars to buy a house.”

There isn’t much opportunity for a conservative to express himself in Jefferson County, where progressives in Port Townsend dominate the political conversation, or in other counties like it.

Like it or not, a lot of people here still feel Trump is listening. So who will listen to them this time?

“We can’t fight anymore,” Carson said. “We need to get back to work.”

From his lips to the ears of the limbs.

%d bloggers like this: