Steve Eaton: Republicans and Democrats could use a superhero right now

Published: Friday, Nov. 9 2012 4:00 p.m. MST

There is a sadness that has spread across Republican land in Utah and it’s not helping that the pockets of surviving Democrats are being so giddy about the outcome of the recent election.

We all knew that the election was going to leave in its wake a lot of disappointed people and one really bummed-out candidate and yet we let them fight it out to the end anyway. Now some people feel like they are in enemy territory no matter where they go. America the great is slipping away, as they see it.

I don’t feel so bad about things. I voted for President Obama once just so he wouldn’t have bad feelings about Utah and unleash the military on us as soon as he wrapped up all the wars overseas.

While the candidates like to bill themselves as one person who can act as a king and fix everything, the truth is it is a much messier process than we want to believe. President Obama billed himself as the one person who could bring us hope and change — and then, four years later, had a heck of a time coming up with a new message that would resonate. “It could have been much worse” just didn’t have quite the punch of his first message, and yet he sold it.

What we need is the political equivalent of Phoenix Jones of Seattle. I saw author Jon Ronson interviewed on “The Daily Show” by Jon Stewart about Phoenix recently.

(Here’s how Entertainment Weekly describes Ronson’s work. It says he interviews people who “cling tightly to doubtful notions.”)

Phoenix Jones thinks himself a real-life superhero. He’s got the build of a superhero and he wears a pretty impressive bulletproof superhero costume, but he has no superpowers. I saw a YouTube video of him breaking up a fight, only to find a woman who attacked him afterward for interfering.

Jon Ronson wanted to see him at work first-hand and said that the weekend he visited Phoenix, there was a dearth of crime going on and it proved frustrating. At one point, however, Phoenix heard a woman screaming in distress so he shouted, “Yahtzee!” and went out to save her. (“Yahtzee!” is apparently his superhero cry.)

On the way to save her, however, someone recognized him and he had to stop to have his picture taken with the admirer. By the time he was done, the woman in distress had vanished.

Ronson said Phoenix decided to go break up a gang of 30 armed drug dealers. Ronson was not so keen on this idea because he says Phoenix tends to be a very anxious person under normal circumstances that don’t involve armed drug dealers. Phoenix had a bulletproof vest on and Ronson had a cardigan sweater to protect himself.

They did it anyway and as Ronson described it, the dealers couldn’t believe their eyes.

They said to Phoenix, “What are you doing coming here to our bock wearing your stupid outfit? This is not fun and games for us — this is real life.” Ronson said he was paraphrasing and now I’m paraphrasing Ronson.

They tried to reason with him and said that to die confronting them in a superhero outfit would be a ridiculous way to go. It would embarrass his mother. He should live to a ripe old age and die. They were threatening to kill him.

Phoenix stood his ground.

So, the gang members just decided to go home. Phoenix won. Now in defense of the gang members, I’m guessing they just had no way to process this and they can’t be blamed for being bad guys. What do you do when some guy like this shows up on your turf?

Stewart suggested they must have imagined that Phoenix wouldn’t be so bold if he didn’t have lasers or some kind of secret weapon he could pull on them. They were just playing it safe.

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