755 Votes

us politicspennsylvaniapittsburgh days

Grafitti near the Herron Ave Bridge, Pittsburgh PA, 2018.
Grafitti near the Herron Ave Bridge, Pittsburgh PA, 2018.

Since the start of 2021, we've had a peaceful transition of power, and Joe Biden is now President of the United States.

If the beginnings of 2021 have shown me anything about U.S. politics, it's that although Democratic party is not nearly as progressive as I would like, I think that recent events have made its precise value very clear.

Pittsburgh's first protests after Trump's inauguration in 2017.
Pittsburgh's first protests after Trump's inauguration in 2017.

In 2018, in the middle of Trump's term, there was a special election in Pennsylvania's 18th Congressional District, after former Republican Representative Tim Murphy resigned.

(There was a bit of a scandal, as the anti-abortion lawmaker had an affair, got his mistress pregnant, and encouraged her to have an abortion in text messages that later leaked.)

Only part of the 18th district was in Pittsburgh, but lefty activists were really active and enthusiastic about campaigning for Democrat Conor Lamb, a fiscally conservative Blue Dog candidate. It was a little difficult for me to square the campaigners with the candidate, whose perspectives deviated from each other rather starkly.

In the end, Lamb won that district by a mere 755 votes.

Fast-forward to 2021, and Lamb's former opponent Rick Saccone was taking part in the capitol riots on January 6. As he put it then, "We're trying to run out all the evil people in there and all the RINOs who have betrayed our president. We're going to run them out of their offices."

The following day, Lamb was on the floor of Congress, saying that invaders walked into the Capitol Building for the first time since 1812, and that objections to the election results "don't deserve an ounce of respect."

And just to reiterate, the difference between those two in an election five years ago was a mere 755 votes. Absolutely, unbelievable.

January 21, 2017
January 21, 2017
January 28, 2017
January 28, 2017
January 2018
January 2018

Full credit goes to the people who helped flip the house in 2018. The people who had the foresight to advocate for a candidate, who though imperfect, would at least move towards the right direction.

And so, my hope is that the election of last year pays off in a similar fashion. The Democrats may provide a stimulus check of $1,400 instead of $2,000, and they may plan for a $15 minimum wage... in 2025, but both of those things are better than nothing.

And, in contrast to Trump's environmentally devastating policies, one of Biden's first acts was to sign an executive order "to pause on entering into new oil and natural gas leases on public lands (...), launch a rigorous review of all existing leasing and permitting practices related to fossil fuel development on public lands and waters, and identify steps that can be taken to double renewable energy production from offshore wind by 2030," and to eliminate federal fossil fuel subsidies, among other things.

In short: cautious optimism and low expectations.

Thanks for reading!

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