The choice this November

I’ve been thinking a lot about the differences between the candidates running up and down the ballot in Pennsylvania this year. I’m sure we’ve all noticed some stark differences between those running as Democrats and those running as Republicans. I had a gentleman close his door in my face while I was canvassing this weekend simply because I told him I was a democrat. I am not at all surprised that this interaction occurred, because I bet many democrats would close their door in the face of a republican candidate.

We need to talk about this. There has been a lot of negative energy in politics just in the past week. Scott Wagner threatened to “stomp all over” Governor Wolf’s face with “golf spikes”. Many democratic candidates across Pennsylvania are being alerted to negative mailers sent by their republican opponents. I’m sure there are democrats engaging in similar behaviors. This is not what people want to see, and it’s a big reason why I meet so many people who don’t vote. They think we are all the same.

I am running on a people-centered platform that focuses on the needs of Pennsylvanians. These needs include access to quality public education (from pre-k through university and/or trade schools), affordable and accessible health care regardless of where you live, ridding our state government of the influence of big money donors and returning our democracy to the people, raising the minimum wage, reforming our criminal justice system, and many other issues.

People generally tend to agree that these things would make Pennsylvania better. Why, then, is it so difficult to make progress? That big money I mentioned before has a lot to do with it. Those who have it want those who don’t to blame each other for their circumstances. If I had a nickel for every time someone told me they had to work hard to get where they are, and so should everyone else, I’d be one of those rich people! There seems to be this misunderstanding that democrats don’t think people should work hard. THIS IS NOT TRUE. Hard work is a virtue that everyone can appreciate. The difference is that democrats (at least the ones running around here) think we should have a level playing field. A recent article in the Washington Post demonstrated how this plays out in real life. The headline? “It’s Better to be Born Rich than Gifted”, and the article details that wealthy children with less talent and academic success graduate college at higher rates than more gifted peers with less money.

Why do we tell ourselves that in order to be successful, we need to struggle? Is it a requirement of earnest success to work 3 jobs at minimum wage to put ourselves through school? It’s the old “I walked to school uphill both ways in the snow” argument. I, for one, think Pennsylvania can do better. The tax dollars we send to Harrisburg should be invested in the people of this commonwealth. This means education, infrastructure and clean energy, and healthcare. It does NOT mean paying for more tax breaks for those who don’t need them.

The election is 3 weeks from today. Let’s do all we can to make sure champions of the people make it to Harrisburg to enact the changes we so desperately need.

Shanna Danielson