Red and Blue Pennsylvania don’t even agree on right, wrong
YORK, Pa. (AP) — Ziggy and Kevin are both retired. They’re both men and they both live in Pennsylvania, but that’s about where the similarities stop.
John Ziegler goes by “Ziggy.” He lives in Glen Rock: Red Pennsylvania. Trump Country.
He was born and raised in Baltimore, but he’s glad that he retired away from city life and the ?“drugs, crime, violence” that come with city living.
Kevin Mosley lives in West Mifflin, a suburb of Pittsburgh: Blue Pennsylvania.
He appreciates that people in his area are aware of issues that are important to him, especially the issue of racism.
If you look at a map showing where conservative and liberal voters live in Pennsylvania, Ziggy can be found in the bottom corner of a swath of red that dominates the state. And Kevin? He’s on the edge of one of the two blue dots that bookend the state: Pittsburgh and Philadelphia.
That map, and the position of the blue and red on it, has gotten national attention this week.
The Pennsylvania Supreme Court issued a decision Monday redrawing Pennsylvania’s congressional districts. And with valuable seats in the U.S. House of Representatives hanging in the balance, maps showing which parts of the state are red and which are blue have captured the attention of political junkies across the nation.
But the differences between Blue and Red Pennsylvania run much deeper than politics alone.
From religion to morality to economics, Ziggy and Kevin live in different worlds.
Ziggy and Kevin
John Ziegler voted for Trump, but when it comes to most political matters, “I don’t have super, super strong opinions,” he said.
In most elections, he hasn’t even voted.
?“I’m middle class.” No matter who’s in office, “I’m still gonna get screwed,” he said with a laugh.
That said, he does have political opinions: He wants Second Amendment rights protected, and he finds property taxes unfair.
Ziegler and his wife, who recently became an American citizen after immigrating from the Philippines, don’t have kids.
He wonders why he should have to pay school property taxes to support others’ children. It’s unfair, he thinks.
Also unfair: Immigrants who might get amnesty when his wife had to work so hard to obtain her citizenship. That kind of immigration policy is like cutting in line.
For Kevin Mosley, discussions of unfairness bring to mind something different: Racism.
He’s a retired state trooper and writer who has led events about black history, including a 2015 reenactment of the Selma march.
He talks about the history of racism in America, saying that disenfranchisement of black voters started with slavery, continued through Jim Crow laws and now pops up in issues such as gerrymandering and voter ID laws.
Oppressing a minority’s right to vote: Now that’s unfair.
It isn’t just a political issue to him: It’s a matter of right and wrong.
Right and wrong
Red Pennsylvania and Blue Pennsylvania see right and wrong in two different ways, according to Melissa Wilde, a professor of sociology at the University of Pennsylvania.
To conservatives, cutting in line is one of the most important parts of wrongdoing, Wilde said, citing the work of author and academic Arlie Russell Hochschild.
Wilde says opposition to property taxes are a prime example of that thought.
My hard-earned money is being taken from me to help someone else get ahead. That’s unfair: They’re cutting in line.
Meanwhile, liberals tend to think that helping others is an example of goodness. “We’re all stronger together,” is how Wilde described their thinking.
That opinion is echoed by Tony ?Campolo, an evangelical religious leader and former professor of sociology at Eastern University, located outside Philadelphia. He also used to serve as a spiritual adviser to President Bill Clinton.
He said in central Pennsylvania, thinking often focuses on the individual: Take care of yourself, take care of your family.
You can hear echoes of this when you talk to Matt Jansen, a controversial conservative political figure in southcentral Pennsylvania currently running for a seat in the state’s House of Representatives.
?“America first, York County first, Pa. first” - that’s what voters in the region connect with, he said.
Campolo said that religion heavily influences politics in the region, so being on the right side of moral issues, especially abortion, is important to many voters.
But run that idea by Blue Pennsylvanian Mosley, and you’ll get a different response: “Abortion is a moral issue, but so is health care. So is gun control.”
Growth and decline
Religion and morality aren’t the only issues that separate Red from Blue in Pennsylvania: Economics do, too.
?”?When you map it, which we’ve done ... it’s pretty dramatic,” Dr. Theodore Alter, Professor of Agricultural, Environmental and Regional Economics at Penn State.
In a forthcoming publication co-authored by Alter, The Center for Economic and Community Development has created another map that shows two Pennsylvanias. But the red and blue on this map indicate job growth and decline.
In the east, near Philadelphia, the blue is dark and rich. You can see lighter splashes of it in areas around the state: Pittsburgh, State College, Harrisburg. These are the areas where jobs have grown since 2008.
But the color that dominates the map is red. Deep red.
“Divided” isn’t a term Alter uses to describe his map. Economics is more complicated than that - Blue Pennsylvania is interlinked with Red Pennsylvania.
As employment grows in the cities and shrinks in the countryside, Pennsylvania has seen a demographic and political shift, said G. Terry Madonna, a pollster and political science professor at Franklin & Marshall College.
?In central Pennsylvania, residents in old mining towns feel deserted.
When their kids leave, they don’t come back.
And the Democratic Party - the one of JFK, the one they thought championed them - shifted its focus to the cities.
?It’s just a part of a well-established national trend, he said. Democrats have become the party of the urban and the diverse; the Republicans the party of the small-town and the white.
New District lines
Red Pennsylvania and Blue Pennsylvania will be divided in new ways come primary day in May.
Madonna describes the state as ”?purple-blue” -- it can go Blue or Red depending on the candidate and the race. But Democrats have a slight edge statewide.
Even so, most of the state’s representatives in to the U.S. Congress are currently Republicans.
The State Supreme Court says that’s due to Republican gerrymandering: Artfully drawing district lines to maximize one party’s chances to win.
Now the Democratic majority Supreme Court has ruled that a new, more fair map must be drawn. And after lawmakers missed a deadline to draw and approve their own, the court decided for them.
“Democrats couldn’t have asked for much more from the new map,” writes the New York Times of the court’s map.
Republicans have already challenged the court’s ruling, with the support of President Trump as expressed on Twitter.
Response to the new map across the state is just another example of division in between Red and Blue Pennsylvania.
Red Pennsylvania echoes Trump’s tweet: The original map was “correct” because it was created legally.
If Democrats didn’t like the map, they should wait their turn and elect lawmakers that would make a better map. The court’s ruling is like jumping in line.
Meanwhile, in Blue Pennsylvania, people like Mosley see something else as more unfair: He says the old map was an attempt to ?“pack African Americans into districts.”
?He says the old districts were meant to diminish the voice of black Americans.
When he saw the maps drawn by Republicans, which included districts that have been likened to an octopus and a moose with antlers, Mosley thought, “How does that even begin to make sense?”
Red and Blue Pennsylvania have different answers to that question.
Information from: York Daily Record, http://www.ydr.com