Thursday, September 15, 2005

Hall of Famer for Governor?

Thanks to Chad over at Commonwealth Conservative, I was reminded today of wonderful news from the Old Sod --- the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania --- where former Pittsburgh Steeler and Hall-of-Fame receiver Lynn Swann is considering a run for Governor against incumbent Democrat Ed Rendell.

I'm one of those who believe (sorry, Chad) that football is now the quintessential American sport. One of my biggest thrills professionally was the opportunity to represent some of the Washington Redskins a few years back, even though I've never been particularly enthusiastic about the burgundy and gold. I grew up in Central Pennsylvania during the glory days of the Steelers' dynasty. Lynn Swann was an important part of that dynasty. Who can forget his four acrobatic catches against the Dallas Cowboys in one of the Steelers' four Super Bowl victories?

Well, it turns out that Swann is a Republican, and it appears, a conservative Republican at that. He was a staunch supporter of President Bush last year.

I heard something said about my home state some time ago, and it's a valid observation: "Pennsylvania has got Philadelphia on one end, and Pittsburgh on the other. In the middle is Alabama." It's a valid cultural and political observation, since only the margins in the two major cities (with the exception of a few pockets like Harrisburg and Scranton) put Pennsylvania in the "blue" column during the last two presidential elections. Indeed, if memory serves, the margin in Pennsylvania in 2004 was smaller than the margin in Ohio.

And as for central Pennsylvania, as I've frequently observed to my assistant, I grew up in an area that was so lily white that, to be a racist, you had to hate the "Polacks" [for the terminally humorless out there, this is the use of irony to make a point, and overstatement for emphasis] My high school did an almost all-white version of "The Wiz." It wasn't as though we discriminated in casting, as there was one black student in the production. She was the only black student at Shikellamy High School in the early Eighties.

Lynn Swann as gubernatorial candidate has a unique opportunity to dispel some racial myths and racist sentiments, demonstrating to even the most marginally thoughtful among those who harbor racial animus that we're all in the same boat together, and that the color of one's skin is not a legitimate or even useful basis for judging one's fellows.

One cannot help but wish him well.


Ben Kyber said...

The discussion of race and lack of diversity in Central PA is interesting. You bring up some good points.

However, in a statewide election, Philadelphia makes up such a huge portion of the population that it nearly offsets the rest of the state. For example, look at a county by county electoral count in PA from the 2004 Presidential election. The state is almost ALL red, except for the Philidelphia area which is solidly blue. That was enough to swing the state to Kerry.

I think a more interesting question is, how would the minority voters in greater Philadelphia vote? Would they stick to the party line? Or would they side with the famous minority Republican candidate?

Mitch Cumstein said...

A more important question would be: Are die-hard Eagles fans going to vote for a former Steeler?