Ask not what you can do to run train on your country; ask what your country can do to run train on you

One of the few reasons I can see voting for Joe Biden, and I’ve already voted for Howie Hawkins, is to get Amtrak halfway funded again. He might be good for other transit agencies, too, I guess. Joe seems to have a soft spot for Amtrak, though, and it isn’t entirely bullshit, as badly as bullshit clogs his campaign, his persona, and his entire career. It sounds like he actually had good professional relationships with the conductors he met riding back and forth between Wilmington and Washington. He was a pretty strong supporter of Amtrak as a Congressman. I think; I’m not looking it up. He wasn’t an asshole angling to leave his own constituents hanging high and dry so he could make a bogus point about fiscal responsibility like Jumpcord Straight Talk, at least.

Amtrak is taking the Rona even harder than many local and regional transit agencies, and transit has been hit pretty hard. Having somebody in the White House who cares could make a difference. Will it? I ain’t Nostradamus, kid. I can hardly predict my own agenda from week to week, let alone the country’s. Old Gropey is an evil man who is going to make our society worse. Prove me wrong. I won’t feel owned, just relieved. He’s been pushing a Grand Bargain chainsaw massacre on old age benefits forever. He wants your grandmother to run out of cat food and die. Like his dungeonmistress lieutenant cum regent in waiting, he loves to lock up the poor, minorities, or at the very least poor minorities on pretexts, just because he can, and to give this hard land’s horde of two-bit propertied paranoiacs the rimjob they demand under our Extremely Protestant political dispensation.

We remain vigilant for small mercies in these times. No, we don’t; I’m waiting on direct action at a grand scale and expecting jack shit until then. Even so, perhaps these mercies are vigilantly looking for us, to be our blessing. That may be an insane thing to say, but even I cast about, clinging to passing bits of hope like flotsam on the high seas. My point is, Joe is fucking demented that he may not quite remember that he wants to fatally immiserate his constitutents. We may be on course for a belated sunshine of the worm-plagued brain. Still, as I said, I ain’t Nostradamus.

What I do know, or think I know, is this: Trump doesn’t know a thing about trains. I don’t mean that he won’t betray his secret familiarity with trains because he wants to look cool. A normal young boy walks into the scanner shop and walks out to the crossing autistic. Many such cases! No. What I mean is that nothing rattling around in our thicc moist boi’s thicc moist hedd enables him to utter one passably accurate fact about trains. He’s into private jets, anyway, especially when there’s an FAA certificate up for renewal and he feels like flying his 757 without it. He probably doesn’t know much about aviation per se, either, like how planes fly, but he has to be even dimmer about trains.

If he were put in one jail cell and Stormy Daniels two cells down, promising to come over and pee on him if he gets even one answer right, he couldn’t guess within 20 miles per hour how fast the FRA allows passenger trains to operate without positive train control (hint: it’s close to his age lol), or what the hell positive train control is. (It’s kind of like Kamala being the real president.) He couldn’t earn his pee treat off a question about whether the F40PH and the Genesis use the same power steering fluid.

Come to think of it, he doesn’t know shit about cars, either.

Seriously, he’d fail these questions on an untimed open-book quiz. All he can remember is that Anna Wintour was mean to him and Barney Frank had protruding nipples. He’ll talk about industrial policy in hopelessly broad terms for a few minutes, some shit about magically restoring bituminous pit mine headcounts to 1990 levels or whatever during a gas glut that impresses every layman (and woman!) who follows energy news on a casual basis, then start another bitchfest about CNN’s failing ratings.

In general, Joe Biden has a basic understanding of how the real world works. The Donald does not. Here and there he gets it–he likes big trucks and factories and stuff–but it’s a fool’s errand to bet that he has a basic conceptual understanding of, say, why it’s better to have daily passenger rail service to Helper than thrice-weekly service, even though Helper’s a coal town. Amtrak doesn’t register with him as a service that makes his beloved flyover country towns in Red America livable. He may get this about the MTA–Come on, Don, how does the maid get to work? Remember? She’s poor, and she lives in Grand Concourse?–but that’s no guarantee.

Joe gets it. He probably has one of the best granular grasps of railroading in American government. He could probably keep up with me in an impromptu chat about any Amtrak line in the country: service area, stops, basic technical shit, shittiness of the host railroads. If I tried to talk to the Oaf of Office about any of that I assume it would be a dumpster fire, not because he’s ignorant–I floor people with my trainsplainers all the time–but because he’s an intellectually uncurious boor and idiot-savant. Any of you white motherfuckers wanna talk about trains for free? He’s white, but he doesn’t.

Okay, the fellow prefers his daughter. Fair point.

This is all a longwinded way of saying that maybe, just possibly, Amtrak will become less inadequate under Gropey Joe and the Canadian Ice Queen. Maybe. As I keep saying, direct action is what it’ll all really take. Disruptions to freight railroading may well indirectly yield improvements to passenger rail service. What I mean is, go out on strike, fuck up the important shit for the big guys, and you’ve got leverage, just like with air traffic control.

Sure, it’d also help if BNSF stopped running its long oily snakes on the Empire Builder all night long, and I wouldn’t have minded getting off with that chick whose husband was doing 25 to life for murder in the Nebraska state pen, even at Lincoln at five in the morning. Ben’s Ass won’t agree, but homegirl told us Nebraska is “so fucking white trash.”

That’s two more railroad facts than I’d expect to get out of Donald Trump, and two more flyover facts. Nebraska is fucked up and isolated. Do we want it to be REALLY isolated? The cultural exchange facilitated by passenger rail service will be lost on Ben’s Ass, but it isn’t nearly as lost on his constituents. It’s mostly Nebraska’s elites who are idiotic enough to vote for that idiot, just as it took millions of Americans with master’s and professional degrees to get Trump within the blue-collar swing vote’s reach of the presidency.

Biden is out there in Cleveland, getting distracted from his speech by, that must be the commuter, no, it’s the freight. Trump may not know about passenger trains versus freight trains. I’m serious. The gaps in that fucker’s fund of information are popularly exaggerated, but they’re very real. As I said, ask him about the power steering. Hell, ask him why it’s harder to turn the steering wheel on a car before you turn on the engine.

Ask Donald if life is worse, better, or just as shitty in Gallup without daily Amtrak service, and why. Joe has the answer. Not all presidents do.

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