The crossroads of hate and politics

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By Mike McGann, Editor, The Times

In this very special edition of Politics As Unusual — a few days early to allow for copious time sitting by the pool and ingesting adult beverages — we’re going to take a look at how politics drives behavior (and the other way around), bad endorsements, chaos, dirty money and more!

First, if you’ve been on the Web, watched TV or been exposed to virtually any media, you saw the footage of the Delaware guy sucker punching the disabled man in front of the 7-11 in West Chester.

What, though, you may ask, does random acts of violence have to do with politics? Well, when you have a sitting president who made fun of a reporter’s disability (and mocked various ethnic, religious groups and bragged about grabbing women by the genitals), and then got elected, it kind of turns on the green light for such things in the minds of some folks.

Across the county, we’ve seen minorities report an uptick in harassment — and while some municipalities and school districts have moved swiftly and decisively to make it known they won’t tolerate it — some have just shrugged (especially one or two of the richest and most privileged districts who apparently have no shame) and said it’s not an issue, refusing to take action, in essence, offering their own green light.

You know, by putting Donald J. Trump, Billionaire, in the White House, it kind of sends the message that slugging disabled people is OK. Or just stuff as simple as harassing Latino-Americans, African-American and Asian-Americans — and of course, women — is just fine and dandy. It also seems to have emboldened the KKK to hold a very public march in just the next county over, Lancaster.

Just so we’re clear: it’s not OK.

Now in fairness, Chester County did not support Donald Trump. He lost here by nearly 10 points, a shocking number if you know the political history of the county. That means virtually all Democrats, most independents and no small number of Republicans found it in their heart to vote for Hillary Clinton, even it they found it distasteful.

Obviously, one can’t tar all Chester County Republicans for this, in fact, on the contrary, when so many showed a lot of character in opting not to vote for Trump.

But whether this continues to be a trend around the county bears watching in the coming weeks and months.

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The Congressional Budget Office number is out on the American Health Care Act and like the earlier version, it’s not good. It suggests about 23 million people will lose health care, rates will go up in the near term (although ultimately down — but with lesser coverage) and those older and sicker may see premiums so high, insurance will be impossible.

To quote: “People who are less healthy (including those with preexisting or newly acquired medical conditions) would ultimately be unable to purchase comprehensive non-group health insurance at premiums comparable to those under current law, if they could purchase it at all — despite the additional funding that would be available under H.R. 1628 to help reduce premiums. As a result, the non-group markets in those states would become unstable for people with higher-than-average expected health care costs.”

The transparent driver of the bill is a $1 billion tax cut for the wealthy — so essentially, no matter how the Republicans frame it, the bill trades the health and welfare of tens of millions of people to allow the really wealthy to be able to afford to renovate the maids quarters in their eighth home, which is a tough messaging sell.

A 12 year old could create a winning campaign against that, which is good as the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has, of late, operated at about that level.

The saving grace for the GOP: there’s virtually no chance this bill passes the U.S. Senate in anything like this form, if at all.

The downside: at least one local Congressman, Lloyd Smucker, voted for it, while both Pat Meehan (R-7) and Ryan Costello (R-6) have committee “yes” votes (although both voted against the final bill in the full house) that will look awful in campaign commercials.

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If it seems like Democrats are climbing all over each other to run for Congress in 2018, it is not your imagination. From polling to fundraising, it appears that 2018 may offer the single best opportunity for Democrats to grab one or more seats in the region since 2006.

Already, there are likely multiple primary challenges in each of Chester County’s three congressional districts and an indication of more to come. You can’t blame folks for seizing what appears to be an opportunity.

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In that vein, former Gov. Ed Rendell’s endorsement of Dan Muroff in the 7th Congressional District, this week probably didn’t do the candidate a lot of favors. Muroff, who will face Elizabeth Moro (of Kennett Square), Andrew McGinty and Molly Sheehan (who seems to have a lot of the early momentum), now may find himself explaining Rendell’s various issues — such as the growing controversy over staff bonuses from the Democratic National Convention and the fact that Rendell has angered many local Democrats by meddling in local races and forcing candidates — Katie McGinty comes to mind — on the party.

Rendell is not as beloved by his own party as one might expect from a two-term governor and former Democratic National Committee chair. His betrayal of the state’s schools with Act 1 or 2006 is just the top of the list of actions he’s taken that have left many deeply disliking him.

Instead of being a plus, his endorsement might just be the kiss of death for Muroff, who generally has gotten good word of mouth.

This just reenforces a sense that Sheehan is the candidate to beat, although, granted the race remains a long way off.

***

Speaking of the 7th, rumblings continued this week that state Sen. Daylin Leach might jump into the crowded field. More rumblings suggested that he was being prompted by the DCCC.

Don’t get me wrong — I like Leach and selfishly, he’d be awesome to have around as a congressman from my standpoint as a political writer (a stark contrast to Rep. Meehan who really needs to ask Siri, “Where is Chester County?”)  — but, thanks to a history of colorful remarks (awesome for political writers and opposition research guys), I’d probably be more enthusiastic about his running were I a GOP campaign operative responsible for coming up with negative campaign ads.

I think Leach would be making a mistake by running this race. I think that the D-Trip would be making a major mistake by pushing any candidate during the primary season, a lesson, I thought it learned last cycle.

But, we shall see.

***

One of the state’s top Latino-American Group Leaders — and one with strong ties to Chester County  — continues to be under fire for her enthusiastic support for President Donald Trump.

Carolina Cabrera DiGiorgio, the CEO of Congreso de Latinos Unidos — and the wife of State and Chester County GOP Chair Val DiGiorgio — is under fire for her enthusiastic support of Trump at a recent rally, where she can be seen right behind the president, cheering enthusiastically.

More than a dozen Delaware Valley area Latino groups sent a letter to Congreso, suggesting that support for Trump — who has been critical, almost to the point of being offensive, when it comes to Latino citizens and non-citizens — is pretty much completely out of sync with the point of view of the Latino community. Or humanity, but that’s for another column.

Of course, Daily News columnist Stu Bykofsky (you’ll remember him as the guy who said America needed another 9/11) raced to her defense, suggesting any attack on DiGiorgio resembled McCarthyism. Ironically, Bykofsky, who hasn’t been relevant since McCarthy was in office (yes, that was a joke — Bykofsky has never been relevant), even went on to argue that Trump hasn’t criminalized being Latino.

You may want to tell that to the Chester County mushroom growers who, thanks to Trump’s ICE raids, can’t harvest their crops and are fearful a $2 billion local industry has been put at risk.

It’s not McCarthyism to question whether someone’s political stances line up well with an organization they lead. As an example, you’d probably want the local leader of Mothers Against Drunk Driving to resign if she had six too many Cosmos and plowed into a school bus full of nuns.

Congreso’s board expressed support for DiGiorgio, if not the things she appears to be supporting.

“While we do not support any administration’s policies that could negatively impact the Latino community we serve, we do remain supportive of and confident in Carolina’s leadership,” said Board Chair Esperanza Martinez Neu in a statement by Congreso.

At best, it seems problematic — much like DiGiorgio continuing on as county leader while running the entire state party — and it wouldn’t be surprising to see the organization take a fundraising hit, which would be unfortunate.

Yet another item that bears watching. 

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On this Memorial Day weekend — and this is only mildly political in nature — let’s make sure we understand what the holiday is about. As much as we love veterans — and we do — it’s not to honor them. That’s Veterans’ Day in November. It’s also not intended to honor serving active duty members — who, of course, we also love and honor — that’s Armed Forces Day, which was last Saturday.

Memorial Day is, to me, a more sacred day, a day we remember those who, as Lincoln put it, “gave the last full measure of devotion” to their nation, by dying in service.

So as we kick off Summer, take a moment to remember those brave souls who made the ultimate sacrifice for our nation.

Stay safe and enjoy your weekend!

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