Pennsylvania’s Blue Shift

Pennsylvania’s Blue Shift

A local activist said, “You should have known, Don, not to mess with Philadelphia.”

Why didn’t the pandemic recession precipitate a landslide for Joe Biden?

On Wednesday afternoon, outside the convention center in Philadelphia’s Center City, Samantha Rise, a thirty-two-year-old community organizer, led a crowd of protesters in a chant: “No Trump! No K.K.K.! No fascist U.S.A.!” Inside, election officials were counting hundreds of thousands of mail-in ballots from voters in Philadelphia. Donald Trump was still ahead in the state’s tally, but the remaining votes, which came mostly from Philadelphia and the surrounding areas, looked likely to be overwhelmingly for Joe Biden. The Trump campaign had just announced that it was filing an emergency injunction in an attempt to stop Pennsylvania from counting the remaining ballots. Protesters feared that the President would succeed in muddying the results and halting the counting process. “Donald Trump is stealing the election!” one called into a microphone plugged into a portable amplifier. Another yelled, “A fascist President is declaring victory! We voted with our ballots and now it’s time to come out into the street and vote with our feet!”

The mood was tense. Off to the side, a young counter-protester wearing a maga hat spoke to a European reporter. Rise, who was wearing a sweatshirt emblazoned with the word “DECOLONIZE,” pressed their way into the conversation and shouted, “Interrupt bigotry!” (Rise self-identifies as gender nonbinary and uses they/them pronouns.) The young man told Rise that they weren’t being civil. “Politeness doesn’t equate justice!” Rise snapped back. A group of police officers with bicycles moved in and broke up the argument. “We knew for weeks that Trump would manipulate whatever happens,” Rise told me. “The reality is, this is so close. There are searing wounds in this country. But four more years of Trump would put people in harm’s way.”