28 November 2010

what is the matter with pennsylvania?

Nothing like a little indulgent historical writing for you. I love that in 1935 you could publish an incredulous essay on your state's mediocre national political contributions. Russ uses the phrase "What is the matter with Pennsylvania?" so many times that it merits a bumper sticker.

"Pennsylvania has become used to pulling the chestnuts out of the fire for others, by throwing its huge electoral vote for the Presidential candidate from some other state. Like a good-natured muzhik, it does all the work and gets none of the credit. One second-rate President, one Vice-President who is often not even mentioned in our history books, two or three well-known Congressmen, not one Chief Justice, a fair showing in several cabinet positions and a good record in one or two others, a string of political bosses whose only reputation comes from machine politics and corruption, an imperviousness to reform, and until recently, a total lack of pride (perhaps justified) in the state's contributions to history? In fine, a century and a half of utter futility. What price glory!"

William A. Russ Jr, "What is the matter with Pennsylvania?" Pennsylvania History  2, No. 1 (January, 1935), pp. 17-35. Accessed on JStor today.

For more on Pennsylvania political culture, check out this episode of This American Life from October 2008.

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