It used to be that the Monday after an Eagle’s game, you could tell who won simply by looking at the face of a random Philadelphian. If our team had been victorious, there would have been a grin the size of a large soft pretzel on his pre-pandemic, unmasked face.
If, on the other hand, the team had lost, the guy would have resembled Job’s first cousin, once removed. Philadelphians are so invested in our football team that what happens on the field has a direct impact on our collective psyche for days to come.
Of course, in the grand scheme of things, it really doesn’t matter. It’s just a game.
Elections, however, do matter. The irony is that Philadelphians have rarely been as invested in paying attention to who is running for office as we have been in who is running down the field with the ball, even though those choices have an immediate impact on our daily lives. And, in some cases, those choices can affect how many of our neighbors are murdered.
One such election just took place in the city: the Democratic primary for District Attorney. It was one of the most hard-fought races in decades, especially since Larry Krasner, the incumbent, hadn’t even been endorsed by his own party. More importantly, there was a very viable challenger in Carlos Vega, a veteran prosecutor who had been fired in an act of vindictiveness by Krasner days after he took office in 2017.
Philadelphians have rarely been as invested in paying attention to who is running for office as we have been in who is running down the field with the ball…
I was personally invested in this particular race, given the fact that I’d moved into the city limits from my Delaware County home during the pandemic. My neighborhood includes Krasner’s campaign headquarters, which meant that on my evening constitutionals I would see his face smirking down at me from posters. I could almost hear him saying, “Flowers, I see you. I know who you are. This is my city, and you don’t belong.”
Perhaps that was a bit of paranoia on my part. But it is true that I’d written a number of columns criticizing Krasner for the Inquirer and Daily News, and gotten blowback from his supporters. Perhaps I have an outsized sense of the possibility that my voice meant anything to Let ‘Em Loose Larry.
I would usually just glare up at the posters, and walk on.
Then, an interesting thing happened. Several days before the election on May 18th, I got a letter from the Board of Commissioners telling me that someone had challenged my competency to vote. Apparently, a woman from South Philadelphia had suggested that I was not a true city resident. She had dug into my tax records after googling my columns attacking Krasner.
She’d been a Bernie Sanders delegate in 2016 and was also on record as being a big Krasner supporter. Despite being one of those white progressives who rage about voter suppression, it seems the prospect of suppressing the vote of someone she disagrees with was too tempting to pass up. Calling, ahem, Stacey Abrams.
Ultimately, I was able to vote. Sadly, my candidate lost, and Larry Krasner won the primary. To say that my football team lost a playoff game would be an understatement.
The day after the election, I felt a mix of emotions: anger, frustration, deep sorrow, incomprehension, defiance, and did I mention anger?
I was angry that Philadelphians had ignored the rising tide of homicides in the city while presided over by this DA.
I was frustrated that the voices of victims were being ignored.
I was sad that those same victims saw themselves attacked as bigots.
I was defiant because I was able to quash that attempt to stop me from voting.
Most of all, I found it incomprehensible that the majority of Krasner’s votes came from the same neighborhoods where the body count was highest.
I found it incomprehensible that the majority of Krasner’s votes came from the same neighborhoods where the body count was highest.
Back in the 1980s when I was in law school, I watched in horror as a bomb was dropped on Osage Avenue. That horror was amplified when I saw that the same people who had been the victims of that bombing re-elected the mayor who presided over the catastrophe.
I had the same reaction this week, when I realized that the predominantly Black neighborhoods were the ones that voted in droves for the District Attorney who was sending their brothers, babies, mothers and sons to the morgue in service of his ideology of empty jails, at all costs.
Of course, Krasner’s people pretend that there’s nothing to see here, that the daily deaths on his watch are not his fault, and that repeating the mantra “Black Lives Matter” is the antidote to everything. He and his supporters show an astounding lack of concern for the reality of murder.
I wish I could say that I have high hopes for the judgement of Philadelphians and that they will vote for the Republican challenger Charles Peruto in November, but the primary results have proven that they are as predictably parochial and easily corralled by the Democratic party as ever. Give them a narrative, a slogan, a good bogeyman on the other side of the aisle, and they will gladly ignore the dead bodies they see on TV every day.
So, I prepare myself for another losing season. But rather than seeing frowns on the faces of football fans, I’ll be seeing the smug smiles of progressives whose victory ensures more death on the city’s streets.
Christine Flowers is an attorney and lifelong Philadelphian. @flowerlady61