The Electric City


SCRANTON, PA—  Last night, this large neon sign on top of the electric building on Courthouse Square greeted us as we arrived to the new symbol of blue collar America.

Our first stop:  The Veterans of Foreign Affairs bar. The VFW is a wood frame building with a squared bar decorated with American flags and pictures of GI’s. If you want a drink you need to get green plastic tokens from a member. If you want to be heard you need to speak louder that the juxebox playing old tunes in the back.

After a round of beers and some talk about the Phillies and the World Series, we started chatting about the elections. Everyone has something to say here.

The Veterans of Foreign Wars in Clarks Summit, PA.

And it seems pretty split. Although Scranton is a Democratic town it’s still socially conservative and some people are having a hard time deciding whom to vote for.  Listen to Tony Mazzarella, a Scranton plumber who lost his job last year and is still undecided:

Next to him, Bernie Fanning a truck driver said he had made up his mind. “We gotta get the Republican’s out,” Fanning said. ” I like Obama.  One, he is a man for labor and two, he understands the middle class.”

Bernie Fanning, a Scranton truck driver at the VFW on Friday night.

Bernie Fanning, a Scranton truck driver at the VFW on Friday night.

But not everyone was convinced.

“One guy does not have enough experience and the other one is too old,” said  Tim Green, a retired maintenance worker.  Green respects both candidates. He called McCain “a real American patriot” and Obama a “really smart guy,” that will win the election “by a landslide.” So who is he voting for?  At first, he said was undecided but then his wife Elaine Green overheard our conversation and put him on the spot:

“I don’t think McCain is going to win but don’t tell that to my husband, we’re night and day– tell him why you’re not voting for Obama, Tim…”

After a pause Green said: “I don’t trust black people, OK? I mean, he’s involved with that weatherman guy [Bill Ayers] and that preacher [Rev. Wright] who said God damn America and they have both been involved in acts against whites. And I happen to be a white guy.”

When we arrived home that night our host had received yet another flier in the mail linking Obama to Ayers. She leafed over it and said: “I wonder if they know that I’m a Democrat.”

Next post: Inside Joe Biden’s childhood home.



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