Philadelphia Reflections

The musings of a physician who has served the community for over six decades

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Fisher on Running For Office
Last night, I was honored to receive the Republican nomination for a seat in the state Assembly, to represent the district where I have lived for over fifty years.

Fisher on Political Clubs

Haddonfield Mayor Jeff Kasko

My district contains 15 towns, which some people think is too many, and a topic I will return to. For the moment, the important thing is that each one potentially has a Republican Club. I've attended meetings of two of them, one in my home town of Haddonfield, and one in my opponent's home town of Voorhees. They are both composed of a surprisingly large number of eager folks, younger than I would have guessed. Although the present Mayor of Haddonfield was in attendance, the highly vocal audience was predominantly female -- empty nesters, I would judge. That may have to do with the Mayor's predecessor, who was a lively lady of several terms in office. She was also in attendance. The Voorhees Club was more predominantly male and more numerous, but equally eager and vocal. It was a great pleasure to see this activity, which some have called the Tea Party. But the original, first Tea Party ended up giving us a new Republic so you can disregard the opposition claim that they are red-necked, uneducated and vociferously religious. My strong hunch is this group attended college, although not the Ivy League. And while these newcomers to politics seem very eager to learn what it is all about, their information storehouse seemed at least as sophisticated as the general population. They are in universal agreement that it is a shame that the only major metropolitan newspaper is owned -- you heard me right, owned --by the Democratic county chairman of Camden County. So naturally, they seek their news and information from other sources.

What you have heard about Gerrymandering is definitely true, right here. Two prosperous towns were removed from the district by the Democratically controlled Legislature, presumably to shift Republican voters away from the district and make it easier for Democrats to win. And my opponent is the majority leader in the Assembly so he would want his own district easier for him to win. Right now, it's 60/40 against me in registered voters. Governor Christie is running and is very popular, so it is figured he will draw me 5% more votes with his "coattails". That means I have to find 5% of the vote myself. Which probably means I have to get 5% of the Democratic public to vote for me, or 10% of them to stay home.

Later, after going to half a dozen more meetings of political clubs in my district, I've reached another conclusion about them. You might think the serious politicians of an area would be the source of all the bitter partisanship that every part of the news media talks about, but somehow it doesn't seem that way, at all. In those meetings devoted to politics, and accompanied by a certain amount of liquor, I have yet to hear any impassioned ranting. It's all about each other's children, and the next fundraiser, and making new friends. As much as anything, these meetings remind me of my secretary, who is a raving, shouting Phillies' fan. She's really into the uniforms and the gossip, but when you get right down to it, she goes to one game a year, at most. Like baseball fanatics, these are social groups, with an organizing principle which happens to be politics. If anybody is a rednecked zealot, I have yet to meet him. This is America, and they belong to clubs. But a nagging question keeps coming up in my mind. If the serious politicians aren't angry and polarized, just who is responsible for this talk about vicious, divisive partisanship?

Originally published: Friday, September 13, 2013; most-recently modified: Friday, May 17, 2019