The US presidential primary campaign is on it's way to Pennsylvania and for the first time in a very long time the votes may actually make a difference. So now that a spotlight is shining on the Keystone State every political junkie, political pundit and anyone with a vested interest in the US presidential election will be trying to dissect the electorate of this new battleground.
Of course, anyone who is old enough to vote should know that Pennsylvania is known for its historic battlegrounds like Valley Forge and Gettysburg. In fact, anyone who has taken an immigration and naturalization test knows about as much Pennsylvania history as many of the state's residents. But not everyone is aware that Pennsylvania has always been and still is a political mine field.
By the way here's a little trivia -- the "Keystone State" is actually a Commonwealth. But I'm sure that you knew that.
When most people, who live outside of Pennsylvania, think about the state they think of it's two largest cities, Philadelphia and Pittsburgh. That's as big a mistake as thinking that Los Angeles and San Francisco are representative of California.
If you remove Pennsylvania's two urban centers, this politically "blue" state turns bright "red" and nobody knows that better than PA Governor Ed Rendell. As the Governor pointed out during a recent appearance on "Real Time with Bill Mahr" there were many who didn't believe that Pennsylvania would never elect a Jewish person as Governor.
Here's a clip of the interview:
There has always been a duality to Pennsylvania. For many years it was a agriculture economy inside and industrial one, with steel mills in Pittsburgh and Bethlehem, shipyards in Philadelphia and, everything from corn to tobacco farms in the heartland. And while the steel giants and the tobacco farms are all but gone the spirit of those eras still resides in the hearts of the area residents. Much of the heartland of Pennsylvania could be transplanted in the "bible belt" and never miss a beat.
So if you're interested in what will happen when Pennsylvanians vote in April brush up on our history. It will tell you a lot and you'll have as much chance as the media pundits at getting it right. And for a humorous and pretty accurate peek into Pennsylvania politics check out Michael Smerconish's article "Welcome to Pennsylvania".