Democratic primary voters chose Joe Biden over Sen. Bernie Sanders, but that hasn’t stopped President Trump from warning about Biden’s socialist takeover of America. The line, comical to left, appears to be working in the Rust Belt and among some key Latino voters. “I get WhatsApp videos from every single person I know calling Democrats socialists,” South Florida Democratic political consultant Evelyn Perez-Verdia told Politico, attributing the texts to “massive disinformation campaign in Spanish in Florida.”
Trump’s “framing of the campaign as an existential fight against creeping socialism in America is rallying voters” in “small Rust Belt towns in Southwestern and Northeastern Pennsylvania,” Julia Terruso reports in The Philadelphia Inquirer. She focuses her report on a town of 1,000 called Norvelt — named after Eleanor Roosevelt — that was built by the government as part of President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal. “The community was so collaborative that a local newspaper once described it as ‘communism on the prairie,'” Terruso writes. Now it is a Trump stronghold.
“Strictly speaking, socialism is a theory of societal organization in which a community shares ownership of goods and regulations,” Terruso notes. “Colloquially, the word socialism is thrown around as a stand-in for many things. … Asked about Biden, voters here were quick to bring up Sanders and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.).”
Today’s Norvalt residents think of their parents and grandparents as “hardworking” bootstrappers who “needed assistance” but “didn’t need a handout,” Tim Kelly, chairman of the history department at St. Vincent College in nearby Latrobe, told the Inquirer. “And I think that’s a stand-in for racism today. … In my experience hardworking is a stand-in for white in Westmoreland County and Western Pennsylvania.”
“I really don’t think most people are racist,” countered the Rev. David Greer, pastor of Norvelt Union Church. “There’s this fear that we’re going to work hard and pay all the taxes for illegal immigrants to come in and not work as hard and get the same benefits, same schooling,” he said, adding, “We don’t want our houses burned down.”
“We’re not vicious people,” said Jim Novotny, a third-generation Norvelt resident. “We just want to keep what’s ours. We just want to keep the country the way it is.” Read more at The Philadelphia Inquirer. Peter Weber