ICYMI: New Opinion Column in The Washington Post Highlights Governor Shapiro’s Approach to Bringing People Together to Deliver Real Results – For All Pennsylvanians
August 07, 2023
“Shapiro’s I-95 feat has made him a leading voice for the transition to a less fractious politics. Building an actual road fast is an apt symbol of the journey the country needs to take.” – E.J. Dionne Jr.
Harrisburg, PA – Yesterday in The Washington Post, a new opinion column highlighted Governor Josh Shapiro’s approach to governing the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania with a focus on bringing people together to get things done, delivering results, and demonstrating that government can be a productive force for good.
This column comes days after Governor Shapiro signed into law a commonsense, bipartisan budget that delivers on his key promises and top priorities – creating a stronger economy, safer and healthier communities, and better schools all across the Commonwealth. This budget makes historic investments in our children’s education, supports businesses by cutting through “red tape” and speeding up permitting, helps older adults stay in their homes, protects and strengthens communities, and ensures that law enforcement and first responders have the resources they need.
Read this latest opinion column in The Washington Post here and below:
Opinion | Josh Shapiro is showing how to break the politics of resentment
By E.J. Dionne Jr.
Last week’s indictment of Donald Trump brought home the urgency of transforming our nation’s public life. Special counsel Jack Smith lived up to his responsibility by holding the former president accountable for his crimes against democracy. Only politicians can break the grip of Trump’s politics of resentment.
This has long been one of President Biden’s central goals, but his Democratic colleagues at the state and local levels might have the best shot at moving their fellow citizens away from cultural, racial and religious divisions and toward the (often literally) concrete ground of jobs and building things. Pennsylvania Gov. Josh Shapiro ranks as one of the most determined and, so far, successful practitioners of this new politics of addition.
You might know Shapiro as the guy who got a collapsed part of Interstate 95 in Philadelphia fixed within 12 days. Given how long public projects take to complete, he deserved all the attention he got for this achievement.
It sure made him popular at home. In late June, a Quinnipiac Poll found that 57 percent of Pennsylvania voters approved of Shapiro’s job performance while only 23 percent disapproved. Strikingly, 53 percent of independents and even 34 percent of Republicans gave their Democratic governor positive marks.
For Shapiro, the I-95 moment is part of a larger task: to prove to voters that government can be effective and also operate in the interest of those who feel left out, left behind and disrespected.
“You’ve got to show up everywhere, and you’ve got to speak to everyone, and you’ve got to speak in plain language and in practical terms,” he told me in an interview last week in the final days of settling a tough state budget fight. He noted that in his 2022 campaign, “I went to counties the Democrats had written off a long time ago and spoke about workforce development and spoke about how we’re going to bring back the economy and talked about it in very tangible, practical ways.”
It worked. In a state Biden carried in 2020 by a little more than 80,000 votes, Shapiro swept past Republican Doug Mastriano in 2022 by more than 790,000.
Granted, Mastriano was a Trumpian extremist who turned off even Republicans in key swing suburban counties. But like his predecessor Tom Wolf did in the more Democratic year of 2018, the now-50-year-old Shapiro slashed GOP margins in the Trump heartland.
In the west and west-central parts of the state, for example — counties such as Westmoreland, Beaver, Washington and Cambria — Shapiro ran ahead of Biden by 10 or more points. In gaining a Senate seat for the Democrats in 2022, John Fetterman also outperformed Biden, but his margin of just under 264,000 votes was smaller than Shapiro’s.
As governor, Shapiro said he’s determined to signal to economically struggling voters that they’re being “seen and heard.” One of his first acts was to sign an executive order doing away with the college degree requirement for 92 percent of state government jobs.
His emphasis on opportunities for those without college degrees might be seen as a bow to the White working class, which he, like Biden, is certainly interested in winning back to the Democratic coalition. But the actual (as opposed to the pundit’s) working class is heavily Black and Latino. So Shapiro’s focus on expanding funding for apprenticeships, vocational education and job training for those who aren’t college-bound is aimed at a broad swath of Pennsylvanians.
Representative of what Shapiro is trying to do is an executive order he signed last week directing some $400 million from Biden’s infrastructure investments to “on-the-job training” to install broadband internet and fix roads, bridges and pipes. “We’re the first state in the nation to do that,” he noted.
“I think that we’ve gotten too elitist in our attitudes that the only way you can succeed is if you go to college,” Shapiro said. “I just fundamentally think that is the wrong approach, and that’s something I’m trying to change.”
What’s interesting about Shapiro is that he made “real freedom” a signature theme around not only LGBTQ+ and abortion rights but also the aspiration to good jobs and incomes — “the freedom to chart your own course” and enjoy “the opportunity to succeed,” he said. He’s connecting social rights of particular concern to his suburban constituents with the economic rights sought in blue-collar towns and lower-income big-city neighborhoods.
He’s certainly not alone in this. His party now has a regiment of governors — Gretchen Whitmer in Michigan, Wes Moore in Maryland, Gavin Newsom in California, Maura Healey in Massachusetts and Andy Beshear in Kentucky, to name a few — pushing back against right-wing culture warfare with an emphasis on inclusion and practical achievement.
But for now, Shapiro’s I-95 feat has made him a leading voice for the transition to a less fractious politics. Building an actual road fast is an apt symbol of the journey the country needs to take.
MEDIA CONTACT: Governor’s Press Office, firstname.lastname@example.org