The chief newspaper in Weber County, the Standard Examiner, has recently published a number of letters to the editor denouncing Salt Lake City Mayor Rocky Anderson as an embarrassment to our fair state. Many of these letters decry Rocky’s promotion of the anti-Bush, anti-war, anti- … um … anti-whatever-the-majority-in-this-state-believes-to-be-normal-and-good rally (sort of reminds me of P.A.G.A.N. from the 1987 Dragnet movie) that is planned to coincide with the President’s visit to SLC on August 30.
The general sentiment expressed in these letters is that Rocky’s promotion of the rally in the capacity of the mayor of Utah’s capital city is, to say the least, disrespectful of the office of President of the United States as well as disrespectful to the office of Mayor of Salt Lake City. I daresay they have a point.
But let’s look at the facts. The people writing these letters don’t choose to live in Salt Lake City. They are not Rocky’s constituents. Rocky’s controversial, attention-grabbing style should not be news to anyone. While Rocky’s tactics have often been divisive (especially publicly), he has also used his influence to pull people together and make various proposals work (less publicly).
To some of his constituents, Rocky is a hero. To others he is a devil. To some he is a wide-traveling, tantrum-throwing brat that wings into town only to make waves and grab headlines. To others he is just another politician. His constituents have handily elected him twice, and while some think that he has decided against running for a third term because his reelection chances are poor, it is debatable whether a majority of SLC voters share this view. In any case, Rocky’s determination not to run again precludes the opportunity of finding out whether this is true.
Like most urban population centers throughout the nation, SLC has become increasingly liberal as many traditional families and conservatives have fled to the suburbs, creating stronger enclaves of liberals. That makes SLC a bastion of blue in a sea of red, much to the delight of some and to the chagrin of others.
Rocky remains an enigma to the majority of the inhabitants of the red ocean that surrounds his blue island. In fact, the whole island remains an enigma to them. It seems to proudly and priggishly defy the values held dear by them, and yet they can’t bring themselves to live there so that they might have some inside influence in these matters. Still, SLC remains in many ways the hub of the state, and that galls them all the more. And it galls many Mormons that sometimes-hostile SLC surrounds LDS Church headquarters, even while many non-LDS residents chafe at the influence wielded by this hub within a hub.
Yes, Rocky’s support of the anti-majority-Utah-values rally as an in-your-face to President Bush is inconsiderate and inappropriate, but it is hardly unexpected. It could be worse. At least SLC doesn’t have Marion Barry as its mayor.