Welcome to Pennsylvania, America's Capital of Stupid

Students of American history will remember Philadelphia as the first capital of the new United States of America after the ratification of the Constitution. That city was the center of American politics and political life, but ten years later it lost that distinction to the swampy lands of Washington in the District of Columbia. On June 11th in 1800, Philly faded into the background in favor of Washington. Power had shifted, and the state reverted back to its trade, commerce, and agriculture. Pennsylvania's namesake, William Penn, was a prominent writer and Quaker and the state is in his debt for his efforts to make it a showcase for commerce. Penn's son, Thomas, came to Pennsylvania in 1732 and during the nine years of his stay there he successfully negotiated the sale of 1.2 million acres of land from an indigenous Indian tribe to the new province of Pennsylvania. He died 15 years before Philadelphia became the capital of that state (or commonwealth as it adopted the British term).

Pennsylvania is a very diverse place, and it is a state with a bifurcated political landscape. Most of rural PA is conservative, but hardcore liberals populate its cities. The state is an energy state with abundant resources, and it is home to a prestigious private ivy league research university, the University of Pennsylvania (located in Philadelphia) along with Carnegie Mellon, Swarthmore, and Villanova. It's proud of its working class and its historical intellectual prowess, but the recent mid-term victory of a bumbling, oafish hipster politician John Fetterman, over a medical doctor of national repute is puzzling and reflects the rampant spread of stupid.

This week, the citizens of Pennsylvania stole the loving cup of stupid from the citizens of another politically calcified state, New Mexico -- one that has consistently voted for Democrats in over nine decades of its political life. The distinction and trophy for 'Capital of Stupid' now rests with the citizens of William Penn's home with the election of Democrat John Fetterman to the U.S. Senate. Why stupid you say? What is wrong with John Fetterman? It's simple. Fetterman has never held a real private sector job in his life (he is currently lieutenant governor of Pennsylvania). He has enjoyed financial support from his parents most of his adult life. He prefers hooded sweatshirts and arm tattoos to conventional business suits and claims to be for 'the little guy.' Prior to becoming the lieutenant governor, his only other job was Mayor of Braddock, PA where he did nothing to improve the town's condition. (It is thought that the town actually improved after he left office.)

Fetterman suffered a stroke in May of 2022 which left him with an auditory processing disorder which affected how he handled information and how he spoke. His opponent, a well-known television personality and respected medical doctor, Republican Mehmet Oz, was at a distinct disadvantage. He couldn’t point out the obvious about Fetterman's inability to understand and speak (and how that would disqualify him from being a senator), but had to tread carefully lest he stimulate a 'sympathy vote' for the man. To compound Oz's problems, Fetterman refused to debate the doctor until the eleventh hour on October 25th, only two weeks before the election after thousands of mail-in ballots had already been cast. Had many of those early voters seen the debate they would have viewed a severely, physically-compromised man struggle to string together a coherent sentence and stay on message.

Does that make Pennsylvania voters stupid? In a word, yes. Stupid because they chose political ideology and a deeply flawed candidate over a good one. They chose to perpetuate a status quo that will cost their state hundreds of thousands of jobs, do nothing to stop the millions that are crashing our southern border, ignore the mounting crime rates in Pennsylvania, not to mention the entire country, and insure that America becomes dependent on foreign oil producers.

Dr. Oz ran a respectable campaign. He avoided calling Fetterman the bumbling, bungling oaf and radical Leftist that he is while making a strong case for fiscal responsibility, energy independence, and personal accountability in government. None of that mattered, however, to the voters in Pennsylvania, because stupid had set in and shared a seat with partisan Democratic politics.

No one really cared about poor John Fetterman. Not his wife. Not his party. Not the President. Not the voters. All that mattered to the Pennsylvania and Washington Democrat power brokers was the magic number of fifty -- fifty Senate seats. Fetterman was just a useful pawn on the Dems' chessboard, a placeholder and a reliable vote for more of the Biden administration's failed policies. 

This race, more than any other in the 2022 mid-terms, serves to illustrate how American power politics has evolved, and it reveals the lengths to which ordinary voters will go to sabotage their  own self-interests -- and their futures -- all for the sake of more ruinous policies perpetrated by other incompetents in positions of power. And that, my friends, is the textbook definition of stupid in anybody's language.

Stephan Helgesen is a retired career U.S. diplomat who lived and worked in 30 countries for 25 years during the Reagan, G.H.W. Bush, Clinton, and G.W. Bush Administrations. He is the author of twelve books, six of which are on American politics and has written over 1,300 articles on politics, economics and social trends. He operates a political news story aggregator website: www.projectpushback.com. He can be reached at: stephan@stephanhelgesen.com

Images: Wellcome Trust

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