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Politics, Salt Lake City, Utah

Punch A Shark

Since the Utah Democrats have proven to be as tough as water balloons, I have surrendered any hope of having any interest in politics. Tip O’Neill said, “All politics are local,” and Utah’s locals are nuts. Not so much crazed but indifferent and boring. It’s like watching powder puff except without the hard hits. Utah Dems need to relish the underdog role and base every campaign, stump speech and debate with a King Leonidas approach as oppose to being a bellhop for the GOP. Every Demo should tell the Republicans to suck it and point out that they represent a long tradition of bullying and manhandling of the state. Until we get some people with oversized balls or ovaries to tell the GOP to stop acting like Biff Tannen, all representation in the Beehive State will be held by myopic small-minded narcissists who could give a shit what those on the left-side of the aisle thinks.

Best way to stop a bully is to punch them in the nose. This works with all mindless predators. Ever fought off a shark? Well, neither have I but if I had to I would want to do it on land. If I had to do it in the ocean, I would only think about throwing an over-hand right smack dab in Jaw’s beak. Would it work? Probably not but it think of all of the free beers bought for you in the bar when you hold up a recently acquired stump. Republicans are sharks. They might bite your hand off but wouldn’t it be grand to hoist a free beer with your one good hand knowing you bloodied their nose? Get in line, Democrats and stop acting like such pansies.

Calling somebody a pansy has an implication. It means I am calling somebody gay and that has the connotation of being weak. It certainly isn’t my intent. Recently, one of the piano player’s girlfriend thought I was gay because I was polite. I was taken back not because I was upset she thought I preferred the company of men but I thought we were past the point of having to point out one’s sexuality. Clearly her sense of perception is a skewed if she thinks I am gay or polite.

Nonetheless, the question at hand is simple: aren’t we past the point of judging people by race, gender, religion or sexuality? Clearly not if some dueling piano groupie equates manners with being a homosexual. Those that burn a single calorie trying to pigeon hole people with sweeping generalities are morons and lack imagination. It is so much more rewarding digging in deeper and being snarky about somebody’s dress, haircut, language or drink order than dismissing somebody because their father was born Jewish. Dr. King would love to play the dozens in 2012 where character is king. Knuckleheads that are hung up on biologic factors are the snaps equivalent of, “I know you are but what am I?”

The problem is that being politically correct is obnoxious. It was easier when I was a kid and could say whatever I wanted with little to no fear of getting beat up. I am not afraid of fisticuffs these days but I am afraid of hurting somebody’s feelings. I feel like I am an umpire just calling balls and strikes. Act out and I have decided to pull your chain. You might as well because in the end, people will respect you more in the end. Still, it’s preferable to be the funny guy than the jerk.

Tom Morello of Rage Against The Machine did a hefty chain pull this week. GOP Veep candidate Paul Ryan got taken to the woodshed. Morello wrote a scathing op-ed piece when he learned that the right-wing congressman running second on Romney’s ticket favorite band was RATM. The first Gen X candidate for the vice presidency must have been distraught when Morello said the following:

Don’t mistake me, I clearly see that Ryan has a whole lotta “rage” in him: A rage against women, a rage against immigrants, a rage against workers, a rage against gays, a rage against the poor, a rage against the environment. Basically the only thing he’s not raging against is the privileged elite he’s groveling in front of for campaign contributions

That feels like having your high school sweetheart tearing you a new one doesn’t it? I like Rage because they rock hard and are political. I wish I was half as passionate as Morello on anything but I felt a kinship to him after he lambasted Ryan. Taking ownership of his music and telling the next possible VP that it isn’t for you must have been rewarding. At the very least, it was very honest. It certainly must have felt good to defend one’s art and point out the very obvious—Ryan is the machine.

I want to be more political. I remember in 2008 and feeling a sense of inclusion with Obama’s ascension to the presidency. I guess after 8-years of G.W., we all wanted something different. There were times after he was elected when I thought that maybe it should have been Hillary Clinton who should have won but after almost 4-years, I am happy to have him running the country. If Romney were to win, I don’t think the country would fall to pieces. I won’t be moving to Canada or sending pipe bombs in the mail. I will just be bummed. Suffering my late 20s with Bush was just a long bumming haze of disappointments that didn’t destroy the country. It just made us out to what the rest of the world already thinks we are: a group of assholes.

Ryan is a toolbag and Romney is a nightmare. Socially awkward, privileged and indifferent to the 90% of the country that doesn’t share his tax bracket. Reports have surfaced that Utah will be experiencing record voter turnout because LDS folks will want to be able to say years from now to their great grandchildren that they casted the winning ballot for the first Mormon president. It’s a bad year to be running for office in Utah as a Democrat but for that matter, when is it a good time? I predict record votes for GOP candidates and good, rational fellows like Ben McAdams will take it on the chin because they picked the wrong year to run.

With that said, Democrats should get loud. Hop on the tallest soap box and make some noise. Call out your opponents and fight the good fight. For one election cycle, put reaching out across the aisle on the backburner and tell it like it is. You’re not going to win, so you might as well go down swinging. What do you have to lose? Fighting the good fight is only good if you win. If you can’t, at least bloody the other side and give them pause for thought the next time they try and pull some sneaky shit.

Leadership takes a lot of forms and for 2012, I would want my leaders to be the ones to say what is right and not be afraid of the consequences. So what if you don’t win this year? Character comes at a cost and if waiting for the next election is the price paid for putting the right on their heels, then do it. Losing is not the worst fate. Failing to be honest with yourself and letting a bunch of slimy Jerkweeds push you around is always worse than not winning.

Do it for me. Bring me back into the arena. Make people like me care about politics locally and want to get involved. Why should I spend a moment or a dime supporting candidates that have backbones made of mashed potatoes? Rage a little. This might be the last time you can.

Ben Raskin bartends at Keys On Main Wednesday through Saturday. Follow him on Twitter @BennyRaskin. Check out his podcast, SLC PubCast, on iTunes. He only believes in figuratively punching people in the nose.

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About Ben Raskin

Born in El Cajon, raised in Las Vegas, educated in Reno and living in Salt Lake City. I bartend, write, box and live in Sugarhouse UT.

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