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Op-ed from John Buffington

Let’s Reverse Trumpery

Representative John Taylor has decided to retire, so this year’s election for the 177th Pennsylvania House District Seat is the one and only time that Democrats have a good opportunity to rise up in their righteous anger and deliver a stinging blow to Trumpery, gerrymandering, global warming, fracking, gun violence, misogyny, and compulsory pregnancy.

We all need to get to the polls on May 15th to vote in the Democratic primary, and again on November 6th for the general election.


The good news is, that with John Taylor leaving, four Democrats have stepped up to contend for a legislative seat from a district that was carved out of our overwhelmingly Democratic City for the purpose of guaranteeing that Philadelphia would have one Republican State Representative.

Take a look at our ridiculous legislative district below:

Map courtesy of the Committee of Seventy

This obscene structure isn’t just a Republican product; it’s the result of a corrupt bargain involving incumbents of both parties. Democrats in the State Legislature colluded with the Republican majority and the then incumbent Republican Governor to commit this fraud on voters in Northeast Philadelphia. And Democratic Ward leaders in Philadelphia have colluded with those despicable legislators to maintain them in office. And labor union leaders have gone right along with the scam.

So, what to do on May 15th? I recommend voting against gerrymandering, as a top priority. And the obvious choice is Joe Hohenstein. Joe is firmly committed to the creation of a non-partisan commission for redistributing Congressional and State Legislative seats. He doesn’t have a famous last name to run on and the establishment won’t be able to buy him off. Instead, he is backed by a consortium of independent, progressive minded labor unions who have a history of working to elect independent minded politicians who advocate for policies beneficial to ALL working people.

Then there’s all of those other issues. All four candidates say that they mean to do the right thing. All four talk about their deep roots in the community and their local activities. How do we choose the most effective spokesman?

My thought is, when you have multiple options who all talk the right talk, you should check their educational credentials and philosophies. Joe Hohenstein’s college and law degrees and 25 years of law practice seem like the most promising credentials for what we need:  a skeptical independent thinker who will confront right-wing extremism effectively.

Ultimately, the issue isn’t who talks the right talk but who has walked the right walk. Joe Hohenstein is the candidate who has an actual record of confronting right-wing extremism. His law practice has been specialized in immigration issues, and he mixed it up in court with the jingoes, and won. I don’t see anything like that with the others.

Joe Hohenstein’s roots and engagement in the community are at least as deep as the others. His grandparents’ wedding at St. Joachim’s occurred 60 years prior to his own. His grandfather had a saddle shop on Frankford Avenue. Joe learned to swim and worked as a lifeguard at Simpson playground. He played soccer at Frankford High School and was on the second team, all public, his senior year. And today Joe is Clerk of Frankford Friends Meeting. In that role he has actual experience in managing a school, as opposed to talking about educational issues.

Democrats in the 177th District aren’t likely to go wrong on May 15th with the available candidates. But, we really need to do the best we can to put up a candidate who will put up the best possible fight against Trumpery. That choice, I submit, is Joe Hohenstein.


John V. Buffington
April 13, 2018 (The 275th birthday of Thomas Jefferson)

John Buffington is a retired lawyer living in Frankford.  He sometimes has opinions.