A Letter to my Progressive Friends: Have a Hotdog

Just about every Saturday I have lunch at a restaurant about a mile from my home in Candler, North Carolina just outside of Asheville. Asheville is considered a foodie’s paradise with all manner of goat cheese this and quinoa that, but the Hot Dog King is not that kind of restaurant. It is only 15 minutes from downtown Asheville, but you will not find hipsters and creatives at this restaurant. Instead you will find plumbers, truck drivers and construction workers. It stands in stark contrast to Lexington Avenue Brewery (LAB if you are local) where I normally share Friday night dinner with my wife and 3 year old daughter. LAB is filled with tourists and locals who are transplants from around the country.

If you chat with wait staff at LAB they are from New York, California and all points between. They moved to Asheville for its quirky culture, arts, food and collection of breweries. If you chat with the wait staff at the Hot Dog King, they grew up a mile from the restaurant. They did not choose to come to Western North Carolina — they were born here. It’s their home. LAB serves Truffled Pommes Frites, Hot Dog King serves Chili Fries. Hot Dog King serves soft drinks and Iced Tea, LAB serves craft beer. LAB has Gluten Free and Vegan options, Hot Dog King has beef and pork options. You get the picture.

Hot Dog King serves soft drinks and Iced Tea, LAB serves craft beer

The 2016 Election highlighted a growing divide in America between a university-educated, ethnically diverse, urban and coastal America, and an insular, whiter, less-educated middle America. One group thinks the other is smug, while another considers the other pedestrian. One group is in church on Sunday morning, the other is eating brunch. One group considers all family sacred including aunts, uncles and cousins, the other is embarrassed by them.

For my progressive friends in Austin, Chicago and Chapel Hill, take a Saturday drive 30 minutes out of town, not on the interstate, but on a county road. Stop at the first diner or BBQ restaurant you see. Have a hotdog, burger or BBQ plate and sit back and observe the people around you. Don’t judge, just observe. Watch people when they sit down to eat. Count how many times you see people pray. Observe how they open the door for their elders. They are not loud mouths. They are not enlightened, cosmopolitan or worldly. The are proud and respectful. They believe real work is done with your hands (computers don’t count) and they believe giving back to society is helping take up the offering at a Sunday morning service, or helping their neighbor fix a busted water pipe.

Lexington Avenue Brewery; Asheville, NC

For all their differences, the patrons of LAB & Hot Dog King have way more in common than where they differ. They both want good schools and safe streets for their kids. They want safe water and affordable healthcare. They want the potholes fixed in their roads, and for their representatives in Washington to act like adults. They want good jobs, and above all, they want America continue being the beacon of hope and opportunity it has been for the last 150 years. Let's all make the effort; progressives, conservatives and independents to see others points of view and recognize those values we share, and not the talking points that divide us.