“It’s only natural for unbridled partisanship, unrestrained by allegiance to a greater cause, to lead to chaos.” — George Washington (the only president in U.S. history to not be part of a political party)
As the PA Primary Election season starts to gear up, an increasing number of candidates (new and old) have begun vying for the many State and National offices currently available for the taking. Unfortunately, with the beginning of this new political season, we have started to see how the toxicity of national politics has begun to seep into the foundation of our Pennsylvania government, which has led to both political parties waging partisan war over issues that generally do not affect the broader Pennsylvania population.
Pennsylvania is a state unlike most in the union. While states such as New York, Texas, California, or Florida can generally be characterized as primarily having its residents living in rural, urban, or suburban areas, Pennsylvania has its population consistently mixed between all of the above. This diversity has left us in “a continual battle of political and social ideology,” on many national issues.
The conflict on the national level that many Pennsylvania citizens contend with regularly has worked to make us an increasingly polarized State, and it has soured the idea of public service in government as a whole.
With the state of media today, we have allowed every level of our government to be tainted with the moral and ethical debates of our national representatives, which has, in turn, led to the candidates of our state and local offices focusing on issues that have lesser practical relevance for any of our lives.
Generally speaking, the five areas that affect the majority of Pennsylvanians are Energy, Agriculture, Infrastructure, Industry, and Education.
However, unfortunately, candidates on both sides of the political spectrum who are currently seeking state office have begun using broad national talking points as a tool to gain political support, regardless of whether or not they are actually qualifying issues or even issues they could have any influence over once in office.
Issues such as 2nd Amendment rights, abortion, the potential legalization of marijuana, gay/trans empowerment, etc… while necessary, should not be the primary issues and talking points of political candidates vying for state and local positions today.
Millions of Pennsylvanians struggle every day from the effects of our crippling infrastructure. Yet, whether it’s from the adverse impact of our old roads, bridges, sidewalks, highways, etc., infrastructure is an issue that few candidates are currently discussing, yet this affects the overall body of Pennsylvania residents. Pennsylvania will be the second-largest beneficiary of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill, and our State Representatives will determine how and where those funds will be spent. Candidates should be telling us their ideas and plans for these funds now.
Agriculture is the single largest industry in Pennsylvania. Yet, few candidates have released any comprehensive plan on how they intend to support the farmers of our states, which represent the foundation and life’s blood of our state economy and our way of life. In an era of new and shifting technological advancements, farmers in our state are very quickly being left behind, without much of a voice in our state government. What are the candidates’ views on this?
Pennsylvania is the second-largest supplier of natural gas within the United States. As an energy powerhouse, it is a wonder why more candidates are not talking about the future of Pennsylvania energy production because not only is it a significant source of State employment, but it is a core element of our nation’s backbone.
In a rapidly changing world, industries that were once core elements of Pennsylvania’s way of life are changing. Suppose the government of our state does not act now. In that case, cities across the state will face the very real repercussions of rapidly changing national and global markets. Unfortunately, there are still cities around Pennsylvania recovering from industry shifts that occurred in the 1970s and 1980s that are still left figuring out how to put the pieces back together themselves. How will candidates address this?
Last but certainly not least, Pennsylvania is currently staring down the barrel of an education crisis. Currently, the State of Pennsylvania ranks between 37th-40th in school education outcomes. Additionally, education inequality is a rampant issue within the state. Local school districts and municipalities are facing the adverse effects of a weak education system every day as the quality of education shifts considerably between one school district and another. Simply put, the way our school system is funded is old-fashioned and outdated, and effectively the future of our youth is left at risk every day that our state government does nothing to address the issues we face. Children who fall victim to a failing education system are not equipped to lead Pennsylvania’s future, affecting all.
Yet, instead of focusing on issues that affect us all, Republicans appear to be primarily focused on “protecting the 2nd Amendment” and fighting over the immorality of abortion. Democrats seem more worried about legalizing marijuana and proving that they “stand with the gay/trans communities” than they are with any of the other issues that touch our lives every day.
Each of the issues I illustrated in the paragraph above is important. Each of them should and must be addressed; however, they have become national talking points representing the larger Republican and Democratic parties’ agendas. They are issues that strike voters emotionally, but when all is said and done, Pennsylvanians have pressing issues that need to be addressed right now. We need representation that knows and takes the issues that affect our daily lives seriously.
It does not matter if you come from Pittsburgh, Lebanon, Lancaster, or Philadelphia in Pennsylvania. Our education, infrastructure, industry, energy, or agriculture affects you and your children every day, yet why do we not seem more worried about them? This election season, I want to challenge every candidate to formulate a plan of action for the areas that directly affect the daily lives of their constituents and every voter to ask more questions and demand more answers from those seeking your vote before election day. The candidates who win these seats will ultimately work for us. So let us make sure they are qualified for the positions they are running for and represent us well.
REMEMBER, THE PRIMARY ELECTION WILL BE HELD ON OR AROUND MAY 17. This is where each party’s candidates run against each other to decide on their party’s sole candidate for each office in the November election.