Can the voters overthrown the political aristocracy that has wrapped its tentacles on state government? The answer comes in Primary Election Day.
Eight out of 10 registered voters usually stay home on primary election day in Pennsylvania. If that trend continues this Tuesday, we're doomed.
I've written nearly 50 columns in the past 10 months about the sad state of affairs of Pennsylvania government. Each column averaged 850 words. That's more than 42,000 words I've used to try to get through to readers that time is running out.
If you care about your family, you must vote Tuesday. If you care about your children's future or your grandchildren's future, you must vote Tuesday. If you care about your job, you must vote Tuesday.
If you believe that government should fear the people instead of the other way around, you must vote Tuesday.
If you believe that power should rest in the hands of 254 self-serving, career politicians (the most expensive legislature in the country and a governor who has a mortgaged Pennsylvania's future to the casino industry) instead of the 13 million Pennsylvania residents, send the same people back to Harrisburg and forget about open, honest, accountable government in your lifetime.
I've given you dozens of arguments why reform is needed in Pennsylvania. I've given you numerous examples of how our hard-earned tax money has been wasted by a political aristocracy that lives in luxury while the rest of us struggle to pay our bills. I've made you aware of a handful of heroes who are fighting to make things right in this state.
If you are contemplating voting for an incumbent on Tuesday, stay home. Clearly no measure of reason, no amount of logic, no levelheaded argument will ever get through to you. You're either related to a politician or you benefit financially from having a particular incumbent in office. Otherwise, you’d vote for change.
The revolution has begun. The people won important battles. On Nov. 8, the voters rejected the retention of a state Supreme Court justice for the first time in history and nearly ousted a second justice. A week later, a fearful Legislature repealed its outrageous 2005 pay grab.
Since then, the people have shamed 30 incumbent legislators into retiring rather than face the voters in 2006. And a record number of challengers emerged to take on incumbents this year.
The decisive battle to retake this state back from the political elite will come Tuesday. If the voters can knock out at least 50 incumbents, the political warlords who control Harrisburg will lose their grip on power.
We, the people, will gain the advantage and we will continue the revolution through the Nov. 7 election.
It all comes down to this one election. Republicans and Democrats, conservatives and liberals, young and old must unite to take back Pennsylvania. We deserve better. How many of you show up at the polls and how many do the right thing will determine Pennsylvania's future. There's nothing else for me to say on the matter.
The eyes of the nation are on Pennsylvania and the people's campaign to take back their government. The Wall Street Journal profiled the state of Pennsylvania politics Monday in a story headlined, "Incumbents Under Fire." A few weeks ago, the New York Times ran a story on maverick challenger Russ Diamond. GOP gubernatorial candidate Lynn Swann was featured in The Washington Post and on ABC News.
I will leave you with some comments from three astute political observers that put Tuesday's election into perspective.
Terry Madonna, a political science professor at Franklin & Marshall College, had this to say on why reform hinges on the May 16 election results: "If incumbents win, I think it's all over. It's all dead." Madonna also warns about the death of competition in Pennsylvania elections: "If we don't do it now, the incumbents will continue to get re-elected."
Brad Bumstead, a political columnist and state capitol reporter for the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, wrote this in a recent column, "Voters, save yourselves," about the consequences if the party bosses retain control: "It's scarier than a Stephen King novel. Here's the scenario: All legislative leaders win in the May 16 primary. Then what happens? Will we see a reign of terror against taxpayers and journalists? It will set back efforts to reform the General Assembly for, perhaps, a decade. It would be a dark chapter in Pennsylvania history."
Russ Diamond, the founder or PaCleanSweep and independent candidate for governor, had this to say on what happens if challengers fail to outs incumbents: "The Legislature is capable of anything. I wouldn't put it past them to reinstate the pay raise unless a substantial number of legislators are swept out of office this year. Imagine if we can't dump these people after what they've done to this state. What kind of message does that send?"
Tony Phyrillas is a leading conservative political columnist and blogger based in Pennsylvania. He is a veteran journalist with 25 years experience as a reporter, editor and columnist for several newspapers. Phyrillas received recognition for column writing in 2010 from the Associated Press Managing Editors, in 2007 from Suburban Newspapers of America and in 2006 from the Society of Professional Journalists, Keystone Chapter. A graduate of Penn State University, Phyrillas is the city editor and political columnist for The Mercury, a two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning daily newspaper in Pottstown, Pa. In addition to The Mercury website (www.pottsmerc.com), his columns are featured on more than a dozen political websites and blogs. Phyrillas is a frequent guest (and occasional host) on talk radio and has been a panelist on the "Journalists Roundtable" public affairs TV program on the Pennsylvania Cable Network (PCN). Phyrillas was named one of the '10 Leading Greek-American Bloggers in the World' in 2007 by Odyssey: The World of Greece magazine. BlogNetNews.com ranked Phyrillas the Most Influential Political Blogger in Pennsylvania for three consecutive years (2007-2010). You can follow Phyrillas on Twitter @TonyPhyrillas