'D' Is for Donkey | Private Eye | Salt Lake City | Salt Lake City Weekly
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'D' Is for Donkey 

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I just ended 50 days of private conversations with the Higher Being during Greek Orthodox Lent, during which time I sought forgiveness for a lifetime of sins. I also asked to have the strength to forgive others for their perceived—actually, real—sins against me. Needless to say, 50 days wasn't quite enough time, especially considering I'd barely been inside a church for about a decade, barring weddings, baptisms and funerals.

The world's nearly 250 million Eastern Orthodox, among them we Greek Orthodox, celebrated Easter this year on Sunday, April 24. The evening prior found me safely ensconced in the church kitchen, making about 300 servings of the traditional, fast-breaking Easter soup called magiritsa—made with a wide array of animal innards, most of which are no longer sold at the local grocer. It's very rich and tasty—you should try it sometime. Thus, I missed the service, though I'm told it went well and that the many faithful parishioners in attendance were renewed in spirit, well-being and hunger.

When church ended at about 1:30 on Easter morning, they all came in for soup and lamb. By then, I was nowhere to be found due to a disturbance in the force.

Earlier that night, while I was mixing leeks and romaine lettuce with lamb liver, heart, kidney and spleen, Utah's Democrats gathered at their annual party convention down south at Cottonwood High School. There was a time when, if you wanted to meet a Democrat, you just followed your nose to the nearest ethnic neighborhood party. It's safe to say that when I was young, over 90% of the Greeks I knew—and the Italians, Serbs, Croats, Mexicans, Japanese, etc.—were straight line, down-the-ballot Democrats. Today, not so much.

Those ethnicities—many of the blue-collar miners and laborers I grew up with—have blended into polite society, left their traditional churches and forgotten who begat them. Too many no longer seek the unity of workers' unions or have need for protesting dangerous working conditions. They remain thankful for Democratic cornerstones such as Social Security, Medicare, gay marriage, civil-rights legislation, reproductive rights, hate-crime laws and school lunch—but are no longer willing to fight for them.

I've written before how my immigrant Cretan grandfather—an eyewitness to the formation of Utah's labor unions in the early 1900s—frequently admonished me to "vote for the Democrats, sonny. Republicans don't help the poor people, they don't help the working man." He would know. When his young friends were killed in the coal mines of central Utah or Colorado, the mine owners were concerned first for the mules they'd have to pay to replace, not the cheap ethnic laborers who could be replaced for free.

It's a much longer story to tell how the umbilical cords of Utah's ethnic, working-class communities became frayed, leading many of those citizens to abandon Democratic principles. That's understandable. Times change, people change, needs change and the price of gas goes up. Today, only about 15% of Utahns identify as being Democrat. I'm one of those.

I'm no particular fan of public flogging, especially flogging of me. However, on occasion, I've taken up the ink to flog myself for various sins against humanity, including that of voting for Republican candidates. I didn't want to bother God with that one during Lent—there are too many people thanking him for really important matters like hitting home runs and catching footballs—so I didn't ask forgiveness for such a trivial matter as casting errant votes. However, on the grave of my grandfather, I feel like a traitor, and I pray he forgives me above all else.

I may still vote for a Republican candidate here or there. But may I also, every time I do so, have a dollop of Red Iguana hot sauce and the juice of two margarita limes drizzled into my eyes to remind me to keep such stray votes to a minimum.

How minimum? Well, unless things change ultra-dramatically, I'm not even going to vote for a former Republican. That same night while I was stirring gallons of rebirth Easter soup, Utah's even-cleaner Democrats were at the aforementioned party convention ruing that since Sen. Mike Lee is on a trajectory to win an election he promised not to run for (yes, he's a liar), they were going to throw the weight of the party behind independent candidate Evan McMullin and not even put a Democrat on the ballot. The pump-primer for Democrats vacating the party for McMullin is that "he's not Mike Lee." Well, neither am I. Vote for me!

I'm writing in Kael Weston, who should have been the nominee. He might have got his ass kicked, and I despise every bit of Mike Lee as much as anyone, including the members of his own party who can't stand him partly because, as one Republican told me, he is, "a whiny little attention-seeking weasel." Do you wonder why he thinks Donald Trump is Captain Moroni?

I voted for McMullin in 2016. I'm over it. It seems to me that he should be courting Democrats, not the other way around. I've yet to hear him make a single pledge to Democrats on any issue, yet his entire hope chest of beating Lee depends on Democrats supporting him. What's the give and what's the take, Evan? What do Democrats get outside of not having Mike Lee to kick around?

The old joke up in Bingham Canyon was that the Republicans up there could hold their caucus in a phone booth and have room to spare. Utah's Democrats are in today's "meta" phone booth. Democrats must continue to pin the tail—their hopes—on the donkey, not on the ass of the dream-crushing elephant.

Send comments to john@cityweekly.net

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About The Author

John Saltas

John Saltas

Bio:
John Saltas is a lamb eating, Bingham Canyon native, City Weekly feller who'd rather be in Greece.

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