Ralph Reiland: Anti-Trump PAC hits the road
Sea Isle, N.J. —
The first surprise on this annual trip to the Jersey shore was the tough political language on the billboards along the Pennsylvania Turnpike between Breezewood and Harrisburg, an area generally viewed as part of the red T of Republican dominance in the state. It’s a part of America’s wide open spaces of barns, guns, cows and churches that’s regularly referred to as flyover country by conservative pundits, a description of huge areas of the nation seen from above as the bicoastal elites jet by and glance down.
It’s a part of central Pennsylvania where straight doses of country music and conservative talk fill the airways. A car radio set on scan at Breezewood and passing by Carlisle, Hershey, Lancaster and Downingtown picks up every minute of “The Rush Limbaugh Show” from the small stations in town after town without skipping a beat for several hundred miles.
The first political billboard we noticed, standing out boldly in solid red against the green fields, had a hammer and sickle inside the “O” of GOP and this message: “Impeachment Now. Make America Great Again! 2018.”’
The hammer-and-sickle image is a communist symbol adopted during the Russian Revolution. The hammer represented industrial laborers and the sickle stood for the peasantry. They are united in the symbol, illustrating a worker-peasant alliance that would struggle to enact socialism and fight against capitalism, democracy and decentralized private economies.
Another billboard delivered a political message in religious terms: “Real Christians Love Their Enemies. Impeachment. 2018.” I’d bet their enemies list to love doesn’t include Vladimir Putin.
A third billboard, in gun country, advocated more regulation of firearms: “Vote for Common Sense Gun Legislation. You Work for Us, Not the NRA.”
The billboards listed the sponsoring organization — MAD DOG PAC, a self-identified “political action committee that solicits contributions from concerned citizens to fund billboards censuring Trump, the GOP and the NRA.”
MAD DOG PAC also sells pro-impeachment mugs, jackets and yard signs, in addition to T-shirts that read: “The NRA is a terrorist organization.”
Arriving in Sea Isle, the mood is more pleasant. A cool and steady breeze coming off the ocean feels like a giant air conditioner, producing the hot temperature let-up that built these shore towns in the era before widespread air conditioning.
The other good news here is that the beach looks wider than ever, thanks to the addition of federally subsidized sand. The mockingbirds are singing in the dunes; the prices of houses, in limited supply on this barrier island, are rising at a robust rate; the flounder are biting heavily in the bay and anglers are having little trouble landing their Jersey state limit of three fluke per day at an 18-inch minimum; and the lady working at Mrs. Brizzle’s Buns is still putting 5 pounds of ham and salami on an Italian hoagie, supplying enough extra meat for a week of Italian omelettes.
Also oversized are the bluefish in the bay, at 20-23 pounds. The local news says it’s “an invasion by bluefish gangs.” That sounds like South Philly at midnight, but here it just means it’s time to get some lures.
Ralph Reiland is associate professor of economics emeritus at Robert Morris University and a local restaurateur. His email is [email protected].