What’s behind the blue wave

Tuesday was a big day for Democrats, in Philadelphia and around the Delaware Valley.

Mayor Kenney gives victory speech. (Photo: Philadelphia Inquirer)

In Chester, Delaware and Bucks counties they took control of county governments. 

The most historic — and worst — win was in Philadelphia where Working Families Party candidate Kendra Brooks won an At-Large Council seat, traditionally held by a Republican. This was the first win by a non-majority candidate… ever.

Republican incumbent Al Taubenberger lost his Council seat, while Republican David Oh, who finished a poor fifth in the Republican primary, survived as the only GOP At-Large candidate. Brian O’Neill held off a challenge from Judy Moore to keep his seat as a District Councilman from the Northeast. That was about the only good news for Republicans.

Jim Kenney mopped the floor with Republican lawyer Billy Ciancaglini in a low turnout election in which about 26% of registered voters bothered to vote. For his part, Mayor Kenney didn’t bother to campaign and cowardly refused to debate Ciancaglini, who couldn’t figure how to call the mayor out. If it’s any consolation, Ciancaglini lost 4-1 while Dems outnumber Republicans 7-1 in Philadelphia. 

Kenney’s victory speech was typically brief and devoid of emotion, promising a “city of equity.”

So why the blue wave?

Without doubt, many Democrats were energized by Donald Trump. Since they couldn’t get at him, they took it out on every Republican they could find. Local Dems can thank him for their suburban sweep. 

In the spring primary, a flock of progressives lined up to run for City Council, and almost all failed. I thought they may have been too extreme, but it may be they had little name recognition and knocked each other out. 

It is distressing for me to contemplate, but it seems like the city’s slide to the left is continuing.

Leading the At-Large pack was shrewish Helen Gym, our answer to Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Breaking party rules, Gym endorsed Brooks and she (and other party members) could be punished for breaking ranks and breaking rules. But since Democrats love breaking Democratic Party rules, and since Gym won more votes than any other Council candidate, party boss Bob Brady probably won’t do anything more than give her a good talking to. As she yawns in his face.

Kendra Brooks emerges as this election’s “it” girl, and will be a voice from the farther left, meaning more taxes, less personal responsibility and far less fiscal responsibility. 

Philadelphia already has the rep of being unfriendly to business. I expect it to get worse. But I tip my hat to Brooks for an historic win. 

Philadelphians bear the second-greatest tax burden in the nation, following Bridgeport, CT. I expect that to get worse, too. The one-quarter of the population at the poverty level do not pay taxes and will cheerlead any increase in taxes on the well-off.

The well-off will pay the extra for the “privilege” of living in Philadelphia until they get sick of it, then will move to the suburbs. Philadelphia is balancing now between growth and failure. It doesn’t take much to push the city the wrong way. Higher taxes, crappy schools, the lack of good-paying jobs and a rising murder rate are things that can push us underwater.

Having a government dominated by one party is not healthy. Everyone knows that. Part of the problem lies with the Republican Party, for not producing better candidates and raising cash to support them. The party did not even field candidates for a number of offices, including sheriff and register of wills. 

If it can’t learn to smell the coffee, it will be overtaken by the Working Families Party and before you know it, Philadelphia will become Oakland.

You may think that’s a good idea. 

I don’t. 

21 thoughts on “What’s behind the blue wave”

  1. Well said and all too true. Along with others, we fled the city to Montgomery County fifteen years ago. As more fled, they brought their thinking with them and the Democrats now own Montgomery County as well. My grandson is the last of the family still in Philadelphia and they are ready to leave too. He will have to move his family a lot farther than Bucks, Montgomery, or Delaware County.

  2. One of the minority party seats on Council has been given to a DSA member with zero qualifications. A councilman under FBI investigation for shady public land deals and another under a RICO indictment for a massive union corruption case – both reelected. The Mayor who built a whole platform around “Trump is bad” when the city is burning – reelected. We are doomed.

  3. A mystery of life: why do liberals, after ruining the city or state in which they live with high taxes, move to another city in another state and start putting into place the very systems they fled? (See TEXAS, for example.)

    A larger mystery: why does a highly-respected columnist stay in the city that slowly taxes and governs him to death?

      1. A ‘sweeping generalization’: D.C., Philadelphia, Chicago, Baltimore, Detroit, New York, San Francisco, et cetera. All cities overtaxed and in the crapper, and what a coincidence: all cities run into the crapper by Democrats.

        1. Around the nation, including Pennsylvania, the vast majority of the poorest counties and states are run by Republicans. They also, on average, have the fewest social services.

  4. Its time for Northeast Philly to resurrect and finally put into action Liberty County. It didn’t work under State Senator Hank Salvatore in the 80s because things were not as desperate as they are now. But maybe now, the time is ripe for secession. I’ll vote for it.

  5. HAPPY THURSDAY !!!
    Right again, pallie ! The “never Trumpers” and the “I hate Trump” collusion did a number on the Republicans. Don’t forget king George Soros had a BIG hand in this election.
    I worked the polls Tuesday and in my little town, 60% of the registered voters came out. As the people approached, I offered them a Republican sample ballot. If they stopped in their stride, I turned the question to a candidate for township supervisor. I mentioned that the man was a businessman and wanted to run the town like a business. Get the biggest bang for the buck, so to speak. If, when trying to hand out the literature, I was met with “no thanks”, I assumed that they were for the “dark side”. When the voter came out of the poll, I thanked each and everyone of them. I meant it. I figure that they did their civic duty and honored all of those before us, by coming out and add their vote and voice to the township business.
    During the lulls, us workers would talk about – what else – politics. By registration, most new voters are “independent”. To me, that means that they have no love for the rhetoric that spews forth from the politicians. By declaring their independence to the world, they feel that they are not beholding to anyone.
    As for local politics. The only thing that changes is the names and faces. If you want to get elected dog catcher or anything else, you have to be accepted by the machine. If you go up against the machine, you better have a good message and even deeper pockets AND plenty of help.
    I am still a deplorable and look forward to better days
    Tony

  6. My husband and I have always loved this city and worked hard to raise our children in a diverse, urban environment where they could learn how to relate to all sorts of people. We moved out of Oxford Circle in 2007 after I witnessed a murder in broad daylight. We moved to Fox Chase, an area I loved since I was a little girl. We still love it and the ginormous home we bought, which our 6 children have playfully argued over who will “inherit” it. Now…. I’m not so sure we can stay. I hate the idea of moving, but I can hardly believe it when I look back at how badly things have gone in our city. You’ve given me much food for thought, Stu.

  7. Allow me first congratulate the winners as that is how our system works. Behind most votes, you would like to think there was a great deal of research on issues and close attention to positions of candidates. In the suburbs and the city, there appear to be three factors that affect party affect electability. One in 2016 make “America Great Again” which means to a lot of voters change for the sake of change, the flag, our military, and apple pie so slogans are meaningful to those who take a superficial view of candidates. In local elections, the word progressive has great meaning to anyone who relishes new thinking and a forward outlook. When your turnout is only 26% then those who are party die-hards, those seeking progress of any kind and those who vote against someone carry the day while 74% wonder how it happened.

      1. I believe this: ‘Never argue with a stupid person. They will drag you down to their level and beat you with experience.’

  8. Stu. While I agree with some of your comments, such as a political monopoly by one party anywhere isn’t healthy, your statement that progressive victories will lead to “more taxes, “less personal responsibility and far less fiscal responsibility” is just silly and in many ways, the opposite of reality.

    “Personal responsibility” is often conservative code for “we don’t want to help poor people”. But the vast majority of people getting assistance do not lack “personal responsibility”. They are mostly children, or people with a disability. Beyond that, poverty is concentrated, so when the economy tightens, it becomes very difficult to get a job that pays a livable wage. Meanwhile, conservatives have scant interest in “personal responsibility” when it comes to corporations who pollute, or injure their workers, or don’t pay them wages they are owed, etc. And it’s ironic to hear about “personal responsibility” from people who support Donald Trump who thinks any form of personal responsibility is for suckers.

    And fiscal responsibility? In PA we have a balanced budget requirement in the constitution. But nationally, it wasn’t progressives who just gave the wealthy a trillion dollar tax cut that wasn’t paid for, and is now exploding the deficit. The last 3 presidents to submit balanced budgets were Lyndon Johnson, Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton. Barack Obama cut the annual deficit in half. Compare that to what Reagan, W and Trump have done to the deficits.

    As for taxes, it is true that progressives don’t support irresponsible tax cuts for people who don’t need then when we have a deficit and so many unmet needs. But that’s something to brag about, not apologize for.

    1. Daylin, my impression of progressivism is my opinion, but the Far Left always wants more social programs which lead to higher taxes. To me, Democrats don’t even TALK about personal responsibility any more. (I agree there is corporate irresponsibility too.)
      Example of personal irresponsibility: Meek Mill. Even if the judge was something of a wigout, he chooses to ignore some of her directives and winds up back in the slammer.
      Result: a bunch of rich white guys get him sprung and he rings the bell at the Sixers. And the gun charge against him? That vanished — when the Left is hysterical over gun crime. Krasner routinely downgrades gun charges to “instrument of crime.” Why?
      As for fiscal irresponsibility, giving unnecessary tax breaks to the wealthy is noxious also. Let’s say I generally oppose handing out free stuff.
      As far as code words, they sometimes are code and sometimes in the mind of the hearer. When Trump — you know I am no fan — started using “America First,” a bunch of people on your side reached back 90 years to when the phrase was used by fascistic isolationists. That’s not how most people hear it today.
      After his close victory Canadian PM Trudeau said he would concentrate on Canada.
      My primary interest is the working poor, and I support programs — not giveaways — that help them.
      Good to hear from you.

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