Defending their way of life
Know your constituency. It's the first rule of local politics.
The second: What happens in New York City usually can only happen in New York City, and is best kept there.
Policies that fit “The Big Apple” don't fit a town that is, say, known statewide for its Apple Festival. Just ask Democrat Pete Lagiovane, the mayor of this Franklin County town who won't return to office in January. He lost his bid for re-election — to a seat he won unopposed the last time — in part because he signed up Chambersburg as one of New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg's anti-gun cities.
His Republican opponent, Darren Brown, said he knows one thing he'll do immediately after being sworn in as mayor: “The very, very first thing I'd like to do is get Chambersburg off the ‘Mayors Against Illegal Guns' list.”
Just past the town circle, where the Molly Pitcher Highway briefly intersects with the Lincoln Highway, a handful of men climbed out of a shiny black SUV with a rifle rack and walked into the Historic Texas Lunch diner on a frosty Saturday morning. All wore some sort of hunter-orange apparel.
They were just a handful of the nearly 950,000 people (according to Pennsylvania Game Commission statistics) who will hunt in the state in coming weeks. Theirs is a prized tradition that shares nothing with the stereotyped truck-driving, beer-drinking fool chasing critters for the heck of it.
People who don't hunt don't understand the appeal. They don't get why anyone would sit for hours in the woods or in a bog to hunt deer, bear, elk, turkey or duck; they don't know how, for hunters, this is a time to spend outdoors with friends and family, continuing a tradition passed down by parents, grandparents and great-grandparents.
Almost all hunters go out because providing meat for their families is rewarding and satisfying.
When you don't understand people or don't identify with them, you tend to mock them — which leaves the people who enjoy the hunting tradition with family and friends feeling more alienated by, more disconnected from, an increasingly urban society that is hostile to their values and their way of life.
Many of these people feel attacked on all sides for many activities that they consider normal, such as hunting, going to church, flying a flag on holidays or every day, and wishing store clerks a “Merry Christmas!”
So when Mayor Bloomberg brings his circus to town to build his own fame and to spread money around, or when Washington decides it wants to start regulating gun ownership with more background checks, these people react in the only respectful way they know: They vote out of office those who are infringing on their way of life.
U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., an avid hunter who once shot a hole through a copy of the “cap and trade” bill for a TV political advertisement, understands why people reacted so overwhelmingly against legislation he cosponsored with Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa., that would have expanded background checks before gun sales.
“Look, people outside of Washington look at all of the spying with the NSA and problems with the IRS they see coming out of D.C., and they just don't trust the government,” he said. “I understand that, they just don't want any more interference.”
In 1999 the National Rifle Association put its stamp of approval on universal background checks following the Columbine High School slaughter. Today the NRA, along with conservative Democrats and Republicans, opposes such checks as placing unforeseen burdens on gun owners and endangering Second Amendment rights.
Chambersburg Mayor-elect Brown said his decision to run for office was made with the same seriousness as when he decided to enlist in the Army in 2004: “I spent a lot of time learning about local offices and government ... took a look at our current mayor, and thought the people of this town should have a mayor that reflects their views.”
Brown said a mayor should focus on such issues as curbing crime and drugs, or keeping the sidewalks clean — not on the issues of outside groups that don't understand a town's way of life.
All politics really is local.
Salena Zito covers politics for Trib Total Media (412-320-7879 or email@example.com).
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Paterno son, another ex-football assistant coach suing PSU
- Federal appeals courts disagree on Obamacare subsidies
- Pittsburgh officer honored for saving baby’s life
- Wolf says he’ll work with state legislature to deal with pension woes
- Officials to limit tailgating before Jason Aldean concert at PNC Park
- Mt. Lebanon lineman Hoffman commits to Penn
- Pittsburgh mayor promotes 3 officers, 2 firefighters
- Authorities seek help to ID man who left suspicious package on county executive’s car
- Former Heinz Endowments director to head Allegheny County Parks Foundation
- Allegheny County warns of uptick in Lyme disease cases
- Rossi: Liriano no ace, but he’s Bucs’ key