Philadelphia Freedom




GORDONVILLE — I’m as “Philly” as it gets – right down to an accent so thick that people in out-of-town elevators nail my hometown just from a sliver of small talk.

Even though I call the ‘burbs home these days, not much has changed.

My movie would be called “Straight Outta Cottman Avenue.”

I’m cheese steaks with cheese whiz. I’m soft pretzels with mustard. I eat hoagies, not subs. I’m Temple, not Penn State.

When “Rocky” won best picture in 1976, it felt as if a Philly team had won a championship.

When Live Aid was at old JFK stadium in 1985, my civic pride was so strong that I even endured a four-song set by Duran Duran and remained respectful.

When the Eagles rip my heart out on a Sunday, I go through a 24-hour mourning process with all the stages of grief.

I’ll criticize my brethren for pelting Santa Claus with snow balls, not to mention other such transgressions that perpetuate stereotypes, but I’ll pounce twice as hard on you if you are criticize us from some Ivory Tower (especially with a British accent).

I’ll choose fight over flight. I’m a Broad Street Bully.

And my heart is on my sleeve that barely fits over the chip on my shoulder.

I also always took great pride in Philadelphia’s storied history. When you talk about democracy and freedom and all that theoretically good stuff, this is where was born.

My class trips were short trips — to places like Independence Hall and Valley Forge.

So it was with great consternation that the Democratic Party, my party of choice, chose my beloved City of Brotherly – and sometimes tough – Love, as the place where Democracy would go home to die when the convention comes here in a few months.

How so?

Here is how so.

It is a personal core belief — and should be one with anyone engaged in the process (whether Democrat, Republican, Independent or something else) – that the dysfunctional presidential primary process should never be one where the winners are chosen before the starting gun sounds.

And while the Republican Party seemingly opened up the front door of a funny farm and let the first 14-16 whackos to climb onto a clown car and run for president, it is a better way to go than putting one horse in the starting gate and calling it a day.

But that’s the stunt that the Democrats tried to pull with Hillary Clinton, the former first lady and secretary of state.

And unless you have an incumbent running for re-election, it is completely unacceptable on many levels, particularly for someone like myself who almost always votes.

Was I really going to be faced with the prospect of having no choice by the time Pennsylvania’s primary rolled around?

Was it going to be the same for those in state after us?

How un-Democratic can the Democrats get?

Add in the fact that the media talking heads were trying to brainwash us into believing that we were on a collision course with a Bush-Clinton election, and you had to wonder aloud about how much we ever really cut the umbilical cord from the British Empire – and its concept of royal families — that we broke away from when all that Philadelphia Freedom stuff went down.

While Jeb Bush seemed to be the least zany of his royal clan, it was flanked by too many loudmouths to gain traction and his campaign failed.

How would it go down on the supposed enlightened side of the spectrum?

Instead of letting Clinton waltz, unopposed, some hats were thrown into the ring.

One was from Bernie Sanders, the independent senator from Vermont not afraid to tout the Democratic Socialism that makes other countries, mostly in Europe (i.e. Denmark, Netherlands, Finland, Sweden, and Germany) tick with a healthier pulse rate than that of our own.

I first saw Sanders years ago, when he was a guest on “Real Time With Bill Maher.” I was buying was he was selling, picking up what he was putting down.

It was around the time of the 2007 birth of my daughter, and some of my conservative friends were telling me that this major life event would make see the world more like in their “I-me-mine” way. Nothing could have been further from the truth. The truth, my truth, was that Sanders had a vision of a country – and a world — where I would want Sofia to grow up.

Inside my head, Voice A asked Voice B – in my “Philly accent” – if it were possible if Sanders could ever be president. While they both chuckled, Voice C – the voice of reason – said it would be nice, but highly unlikely.

So when Sanders entered the race, it was more about proving a point. The mainstream media sneered and dismissed it as a lark, but I saw the key role he could play in rectifying a flawed process (and hopefully hang in long enough that there was still democracy, i.e. a choice, when it came time to vote in most states).

I hoped he could push Clinton – in many ways, no different than the type of moderate Republican one has to visit next to dinosaurs on a class trip to the Franklin Institute – out of her middle-of-the-road box. Sanders could get Clinton, who I vigorously supported in print during the 2008 primary process, flustered enough to go on record in debates and interviews.

The fact that it happened doesn’t make me Nostradamus. It just makes me quite satisfied that the system, while badly broken, can be fixed. Not in this election, but down the road. And we have Sanders to thank.

How did it happen?

Knowing he had to real chance of winning as a seventysomething far-left independent without pockets lined with SuperPAC money – and J-J-Jewish, no less – to do what politicians (at least the ones who are not egomaniacal sociopaths appealing to base of voters with an average brain of 2.43 cells) and say what he means and mean what he says.

At the least, as a quirky candidate, he could take advantage of the quirky process and show well in the quirky state of Iowa. That would put him on the map enough to have a good chance of winning in New Hampshire, which borders Vermont, and create a catapult effect.

And that it did, with a strange and unlikely ally for me – Millennials and bright-eyed college students.

The Clinton campaign, in what has become a nauseating sense of entitlement about claiming the nomination, never saw him coming. Seemingly blindsided, her claws came out. Clearly, Hillary had to resent emptying her coffers in the primary process to stave off what we dismissed as a boutique candidacy that wouldn’t last past the first four contests.

The mainstream media tried to do its part by declaring the race – the same horse race they bank on lasting as long possible – as over whenever she won a key race (even if it was a virtual tie) and dismissing any Sanders win as an optical illusion that won’t change anything in the long run.

And, in the end, it won’t – at least in terms of who gets the nomination.

And they will be quick to brand Sanders as the “loser,” but that’s the absolute last thing he will be after chasing her to the finish line after she got such an unfair head start – just with name value, the SuperPAC dough and inherent media bias.

Like Rocky Balboa, who realized just before his bout with heavyweight champion Apollo Creed that winning was going to be next to impossible, Sanders has done the next best thing. He stunned Clinton, knocking her down in the first round. He had her on the ropes in the 15th, cracking her ribs with body blows.

He took a beating in a lot of the rounds in between, but he plodded away – winning over the common folk — and went the distance.

And you don’t get more “Philly” – or Democratic – than that.












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