Stepping off the front porch I took a hard right at the rhododendrons in full bloom and headed down the path between our house and the house where my good neighbor has lived all her life.
She’s from Scranton.
I moved to Scranton five-and-a-half years ago by choice.
My family has five generations here that started when my grandfather came to work in the coal mines in 1902.
Joe Biden used to be from Scranton. But he moved away when he was ten and only recently developed an obsessive attachment to the town we love so well.
I do not doubt Biden’s sincerity. I do not doubt that he wants to pass on the legacy he took from this city when his family moved and his life forever changed for better and for worse. I do not doubt that he will feel great pride if he takes his seven-year-old granddaughter into the house where he lived in the Green Ridge section of town.
But I do doubt the wisdom of living in a fantasy that might have once been true for him but not for others. And I worry that he is hurting people who never felt the sappy good old days as he did and now live day-to-day in a life-and-death struggle right here in Scranton.
I’m one of the lucky ones. I live a good life here in Scranton and had the grand luxury of stepping off my porch this morning in bright sunshine. Carrying a big, red watering bucket, I headed down to the tomato patch, where I tend to the first tomatoes I ever planted in my life.
I wonder if Biden has a tomato patch. I doubt it, but even if he does, it’s not in Scranton – my home, not his.
Pining for what you used to have is never healthy, especially if you have all the means in the world to go home again, to buy a house in the same old neighborhood where you live in your mind in the past.
Nowadays, unfortunately, Scranton isn’t doing very well. My city is on the verge of financial collapse. The unemployment rate is high. Wages are low and the beautiful people of the Chamber of Commerce and other hoity-toity lace-curtain Democrats refuse to see the danger that lurks around every corner – even in Green Ridge – where houses remain for sale seemingly forever and foreclosures are not the rarity they once used to be.
Republicans in Harrisburg are slashing and burning social services and the unions are on hard times once again.
Don’t be surprised if somebody steals the huge statue of John Mitchell – champion of labor and defender of human rights – from its pedestal on Courthouse Square to dismantle and sell for scrap to feed their families.
Yet Biden picks today to come “help us celebrate” the Fourth of July holiday, according to an Obama/Biden re-election campaign press release. Today of all days, as most city workers look forward to a salary city that will pay them minimum wage, Biden decides to come back to the old neighborhood, visit the old house and watch the fireworks tonight with family and friends.
Self-absorbed to the point of dangerous delusion, Biden will relive his childhood, probably stop at Hank’s Hoagies and tell his favorite lies to an adoring audience who have more in common with cult members than frustrated city taxpayers. Biden will talk about how tough we are and how we never quit while some normally strong men and women hold back tears because they lost jobs, children and spouses in combat in Iraq and Afghanistan and maybe even their homes to the predatory banking industry.
Scranton is on the ropes. Some Scrantonians are down for the count. Some people have given up. And others are ready to call it a day in Minooka, South Side, West Side, North Scranton, my sacred Hill section and other neighborhoods in this once glorious city that is not so glorious anymore.
I have my health, my happiness, my wife, my job and my tomatoes.
That’s why I’m siding with those of us who can fight, want to fight and will fight political opportunists like Biden, Obama, U.S. Sen. Bob Casey, Republican Gov. Tom Corbett (the bad Corbett and no relation to me) and anybody else who uses the people of Scranton time after time, coming for votes and self-aggrandizement that benefit Biden and his kind before those countless poor souls who desperately need help.
We call Scranton home because it is home. And no matter what Biden says or promises or fabricates when he addresses the crowd this evening, I want you to remember one simple harsh fact of life.