… Because a Tom Wolf Comes to Scranton Party Don’t Stop!
I hope you enjoy the Office reference and clunky title.
On to the meat of it:
I’ve been around the block enough to have my hopes and dreams (and really any kind of reasonable sense that the future will be alright) totally crushed by my mortal enemy: reality. Where once I believed good people with good ideas could run for public office and win and make the world better, I know the truth. Politics has schooled me. It’s an awful, awful place.
You know from the title of this post that gubernatorial candidate Tom Wolf has come to Scranton, so you’re probably expecting me to say that he has restored my hope and faith in politics.
But he doesn’t make my skin crawl, and that’s a point in his favor.
Actually, he’s a pretty jovial guy. I got to meet him, briefly speak with him, and listen to him deliver a speech to a crowded gathering at the Cleland House in the Hill Section of Scranton (which is beautiful, by the way). Nate Barrett, Evie McNulty, and State Rep. Marty Flynn put the event together and I made an exception from my recent boycott of political events to go meet the gentleman I believe will be the next governor.
While I don’t believe anybody to be capable of fixing the plethora of problems (I hate the word “plethora” but enjoy alliteration) facing the state and region, I believe that Tom Wolf, at the least, radiates sincerity. I do not get that from Alyson Schwartz, a corporate Democrat who worked for groups that undermined Democratic ideals. I also do not get that from Katie McGinty, who claims to be a steward of the environment and then takes lots of money from coal companies.
Wolf talked about two important qualities in a governor in a slightly above-average stump speech: competence and character. We want character — nice guys (and he hopes we think he’s one) — but we also want somebody who can get the job done. Then he set about proving he could.
History time: He got himself a PhD from MIT. After that, he began driving a forklift at the family business, which he eventually built up from nothing not once, but twice. After he got it going, he became Secretary of Revenue — and increased lottery revenue without privatizing — under Governor Ed Rendell. When he ended his stint there, he went back to his business, which had been failing without him, and jump-started it again.
But Americans notoriously dislike history (maybe not in concept, but in practice, at least), so I’ll get to the good stuff.
I spoke with some of my firefighter friends (who, among the politically active classes in the area, are my favorite people) who pointed out that the best way for the corporate class to eliminate unions would be to do what Tom Wolf does and offer profit-sharing. “Then we wouldn’t need unions in the first place,” one pointed out. Indeed not.
Tom Wolf’s focus, after the biographical necessities were out of the way, was education. This, of course, matters to me, as it is my chosen profession. He pointed out, much as he does in his commercials, that good public education is selfish on his part. He wants better people to hire for his business. People with a bad education, or no education, are going to be less productive, and maybe even harmful, members of society. (There are statistics to back this up — check the level of educational performance and attainment of inmates vs. everybody else.) The privatization of education also came up. Referring to the privatization of education — charter schools, cyber charters and the like — he pointed out that “Education is not a private good, it is a public good.” This, for me, was the quote of the evening. It’s simple: if a corporation runs a school, profit is their goal, not producing a well-rounded, knowledgeable child.
So with Tom Wolf, we’ll get investment in education and reform of the charter system.
I’m sure most of you are asleep by now, since I’m really just doing a play-by-play.
To wrap it up: Wolf’s website is full of policy and position papers (his education position clocks in at 47 pages). Go there. The other candidates don’t come close. His platform is something that I can get behind, it’s politically fearless (he doesn’t mind weighing into controversial issues), and he appeals to Democrats and Republicans alike (the Republicans in my family — yes, there are some — love his business background).
He’s got that character thing down, and it seems like he’s got that competence thing down, too. And he’s self-funded, so he doesn’t owe anybody.
Sounds like a winning combination.