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This Bar Is Closing During the RNC So It Doesn’t Have to Serve Trumpers

Milwaukee bar owner Ricky Ramirez usually begins posts on The Mothership’s Instagram account with a lighthearted insult towards his patrons. “Sup bozos,” “sup idiots,” “sup dorkus malorkus,” and “hello freaks,” are all frequent openers to photo captions announcing service updates, schedule disruptions, and special events. Combining craft cocktails, a dive bar feel, and a marquee sign with rotating quips such as “TODAY ONLY DRUGS IN BATHROOM OK” and “WE WILL REFUSE SERVICE IF YOU DIDN’T WASH YOUR ASS,” the Mothership sounds like a good time.

Ramirez tells Rolling Stone that the Mothership, which he often refers to as “the mommy” in his posts, “has a chosen voice.” That voice made waves on social media Wednesday when he announced that he would be closing down the bar in mid-July when the Republican National Committee (RNC) is scheduled to hold its 2024 convention in the heart of Milwaukee.

The convention is expected to bring 50,000 people to the city. Special ordinances have been approved allowing bars to stay open late, and — as with past conventions — many liquor companies, brands, and political groups are pitching local watering holes on commemorative merchandise and event partnerships. Skipping the fray means potentially forgoing a lot of money.

On Wednesday, Ramirez issued a notice about his intention to close down to the bars’ more than 7,000 Instagram followers.

“Sup idiots we haven’t lost a lot of followers in a while so here we go…as everything gets amplified with like the RNC shitshow coming to town Imao I would like to formally state that we’re shutting bar down during the week of because fuck that noise,” he wrote. “I’m not trying to get involved with or actively take money or rent the space out to that tomfoolery.”

“Tomfoolery” is a fairly accurate summation of the current state of the RNC. With former President Donald Trump running as the all-but-confirmed nominee, he’s now seeking to exert direct control over the organization. Last week, Trump’s daughter-in-law Lara Trump was elected as committee co-chair alongside MAGA election denier Michael Whatley. The change in leadership came after longtime party Chair Ronna McDaniel resigned, following a pressure campaign from the Trumpist factions of the party.

Lara Trump has publicly stated that she’s open to the idea of having the committee foot the former president’s growing mountain of legal bills. On top of it all, many in the state of Wisconsin — and the more Democratic-leaning enclave of Milwaukee — haven’t forgotten the election conspiracies Trump spread about the state in 2020, and his allies’ efforts to subvert President Joe Biden’s win in the state.

In a conversation with Rolling Stone, Ramirez says that as the child of first-generation immigrants living in a city that remains heavily segregated, he grew up with ​​a “kind of chip on my shoulder” regarding discrimination. With the Republican Party having wholeheartedly embraced nativist policies, racist conspiracy theories, and a politics of antagonism against marginalized communities, Ramirez feels that “if there’s an influx of those kinds of people, then I’d rather just be closed.”

“We have a small staff. There’s only four of us and a friend that helps us one night a week … and all of us kind of just came to the same conclusion,” he explained, adding that his employees would be paid through the closure.

“I don’t fucking care who comes into my bar on the norm, but it’s such a heightened event where people are very proudly going to be confirming that Donald Trump’s the nominee for the party again … for Wisconsin politics, it’s like one of those, ‘Girl, you need to worry about yourself’ moments,” he says. “During election time we’ll have to make sure that our parties go and vote, but we’ve had enough happen because of the political divide and I don’t really care about the [Republican] National Party coming here to confirm him as the nominee. That’s not our biggest problem.”

Ramirez says that he’s heard from other bars and establishments who might quietly close during RNC. “I don’t know that people are going to be that outwardly open. I know some people are going to close ‘for maintenance,’ and stuff like that. There are a lot of people who are afraid of the backlash.”

Despite the generally supportive response from its regulars, The Mothership has caught some flack over the decision, with Ramirez calling the situation their “Bud Light moment” — a reference to the conservative boycott of the popular beer brand over their brief collaboration with transgender influencer Dylan Mulvaney.

Ramirez doesn’t care. “I think a lot of people that have jumped down our throats are people that have never been to our bar,” he says, citing that they’ve been through this kind of thing before.

“When we made our comments about the George Floyd protests in Milwaukee and whatnot, and we made vocal what we felt about the whole thing, we just started getting bombed on Yelp. One-star reviews from people who’ve never been there. And it’s just like, ‘We see you guys, we’re gonna be fine no matter what you put on the Internet about us,’” Ramirez says.

“I’d rather see the space used for something more positive than even people that we agree with politically constantly complaining [about] who’s in town. It would just get old and like, really quickly,” he added, noting that his inboxes have been flooded with requests for private events or philanthropic opportunities.

The conversation around his decision to snub the RNC isn’t changing anything about what he’s doing. On Thursday, Ramirez was back to his regular posting. “Sup idiots,” he wrote, “pretty funny that we’re open for shitty weather today but our snowflake asses won’t open for the rnc Imao.”

“Come to bar and get sloshed I’m losing my goddamned mind come on down to the mommy,” he added.

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