Joseph Sabino Mistick: Trump missed bipartisanship lesson during Monaca visit
Last week, when Donald Trump blew into town and toured the Royal Dutch Shell multibillion-dollar cracker plant under construction in Beaver County, he made one of his trademark laughable claims. The plant has created 5,000 construction jobs and will require 600 permanent industrial jobs when completed, plus thousands of jobs in spin-off businesses.
“It was the Trump administration that made it possible, no one else. Without us, you would have never been able to do this,” Trump proclaimed with a straight face.
That was a flimflam, a con job, absolutely untrue. In 2012, when the land assemblage and initial planning was taking place, Trump was ruminating over who to fire from “Celebrity Apprentice.” And in the summer of 2016, when the final decision was made to start construction, it was still widely believed that Hillary Clinton would be the next president.
The credit for attracting Shell to this site and starting this project belongs to then-Gov. Tom Corbett, a Republican, who stayed with it through the end of his term. His successor, Gov. Tom Wolf, a Democrat, has kept the project moving. And their efforts and sentiments do not look or sound like anything coming out of Washington these days.
As Wolf told WTAE-TV in 2016, “You’re absolutely right to give Gov. Corbett and his administration full credit for starting this process. They recognized how important this was for Pennsylvania.”
And Corbett gives much of the credit to others.
“This required a bipartisan effort on two fronts. Politically, we needed Republicans and Democrats to work together to make this happen. We got that in the state Legislature, but we also needed support at the local, county and federal levels, where Democrats were in control.
“The second bipartisan effort came from labor and industry. Together, they solidified the political and community support we needed.”
So here we have a rare sighting, a political and governmental success in which each side is quick to give the other side credit. It’s the approach most Americans have been longing to see.
And that’s why Trump should have used his visit here to learn something. Instead of stealing credit for a project he had nothing to do with, he should have seen the wisdom of giving proper credit to others. And instead of attacking Democrats, as he did from the podium, he might have learned the power of political partnerships.
Pittsburghers know about working together. The region adopted some of the first laws in the nation to clean the air and water in the 1950s. It has survived the collapse of big steel and successfully turned its economy toward universities and hospitals and research centers. And while it has been harder to replace those well-paid blue-collar jobs that we lost with this change, this plant will be a big help.
The plant is not without controversy, and its environmental impact will require vigilance. We once made the mistake of trading our health for jobs and a promise of fortune, but we know better now. And the partnerships that built this must protect our health, too.
We know that we can do this together.
Joseph Sabino Mistick is a Pittsburgh lawyer. Reach him at [email protected].