Feb. 21, 2022 marks the state sanctioned birthday party for America’s two greatest presidents. Abraham Lincoln and George Washington cut their teeth (real or otherwise) in the nation’s capital, but both men cemented their legacies in wartime Pennsylvania: America’s battleground state. 

For Washington, losing Philadelphia, the then-capital of his young nation, could not mean surrendering to the British Army. After a blistering defeat at the Battle of the Brandywine in Chadds Ford, PA, Washington was forced to move the continental congress to York and allow them to seize Philadelphia. The British hoped they had struck the fatal blow — that by taking the seat of power in Philadelphia they could squeeze the beating heart of the continental army. Washington, undeterred, set up camp in Valley Forge and began to plan to flip Pennsylvania back to the revolutionaries. 

In the frigid months that followed, General Washington almost lost the faith of his entire army, but he managed to pull them out of it better trained, better disciplined, and with a plan to win the state and nation back, one acre at a time. Washington recovered, regrouped, and revitalized his troops just enough to allow Pennsylvania to swing the war in his favor.

For Abraham Lincoln, Pennsylvania was yet again the keystone state. The Confederacy had struck harder and smarter at the start of the Civil War, while the Union, suffering from shifting leadership and complicated politics, sputtered in the first few years of the conflict. The confederates had fewer men and less supplies, but if they could infiltrate Union territory and score a decisive blow, they could close that gap. Gettysburg, practically speaking, was the Union’s last stand. And in the smoke of that bloodiest battle, when faced with a choice of risking it all or running, Colonel Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain ordered his men to “fix bayonets and take a stand.”

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After the battle, Lincoln himself came to the battlefield to deliver his famous eulogy for the soldiers that gave their lives for our country. Once again, Pennsylvania was the pivotal battleground in a pivotal war, and once again, our president would use it as a chance to regroup and rebuild. Without a victory in Pennsylvania, our country would likely have been lost. 

To this day, Pennsylvania remains a battleground in our civic life. With gridlock in Washington, control of Harrisburg up for grabs in 2022, and poor governance plaguing too many Philadelphians, much is at stake in the war of ideas in our region. 

Where does the media come in here? The information we consume, and the reporting of the facts on the ground, shapes our viewpoints and civic outcomes. As trust in our existing institutions collapses, led by legacy media organizations that choose narratives over reality, we need truth, reason, and balanced reporting to cut through misinformation that is only widening our civic divide. 

Once again, that battle is being fought in Pennsylvania first — and Broad + Liberty is taking a stand. 

Will you join us? You are a reader, a subscriber and perhaps follow us on social media — but to support our efforts, we NEED your tax-deductible donation now. To be clear, we are loath to compare ourselves to America’s greatest presidents, but we do believe they set a blueprint for success in our state that informs our work. 

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Like General Washington, we will weather the storm. Yes, the outcomes we report on happened in the past, and we cannot change them, but our investigative journalism can be a tool for regrouping and rebuilding. That’s why, after the second wave of Covid killed more nursing home residents than the first, our reporting allowed citizens to hold the Governor’s administration responsible. And when private election grants were shown to have gone disproportionately to select county governments for partisan gain, our story was cited by the state house and senate, as leaders worked to prevent this from happening again. Already this month we broke new stories about fraud in Philadelphia and a potential government shutdown in Upper Darby, and so we have given the people the information necessary to hold their leaders accountable for local outcomes. 

Like Lincoln, we will rise to the challenge, staring into the abyss of our widening civic divide to offer leadership and solutions. We need to go further than just reporting — we need to plant a flag, take a stand, and win the battle that could turn the war. To that end, we launched the Catto Fellowship, and our first class of graduates are already applying their civics education and changing the state. We also published a report on redistricting, which we defended on the floor of the Pennsylvania Senate, to push our lawmakers to make the right decision on behalf of Pennsylvania voters. Broad + Liberty is more than just a media outlet — it is the tip of the spear in a movement that will change our city, state and our country for the better. 

This matters to us. If it matters to you too, please join us this Presidents’ Day with your best donation.

Terry Tracy is the President and CEO of Broad + Liberty. @BroadAndLiberty

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One thought on “Terry Tracy: Pennsylvania is still a battleground”

  1. Terry,
    Good commentary. Keep the Faith and keep up the good work. It does make a difference, sometimes small, but remember these famous words:”One small step for a Man. One giant leap for Mankind”. Keep the small steps coming.

    Grandpop.

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