Op-Ed: Will a Biden Presidency Reflect His Scranton Roots?

Originally published at RealClear Politics.

SCRANTON, Pa. — In the downtown here, if you pass Courthouse Square on Adams Avenue, then merge onto Washington Avenue, you’ll eventually enter Green Ridge, a neighborhood seemingly preserved in ’50s-era America. “It’s a Norman Rockwell kind of scene,” Sarah Piccini, assistant director of the Lackawanna Historical Society, told me.

Indeed, stately old residences line this leafy stretch of North Washington Avenue, where “Scranton Loves Joe” signs adorn lawns and a large, ornamental donkey – clearly a tribute to the Democratic Party – commands the front porch of a Colonial revival home. There isn’t any doubt about the politics of this section, where President-elect Joe Biden spent his early youth. “Where Biden grew up in Green Ridge, Irish-Catholic Democrat was one conjoined word,” said Austin Burke, former president of the Greater Scranton Chamber of Commerce. Even today, that political, if not tribal, allegiance remains intact – especially with a native son about to ascend to the White House.

Next Wednesday, Biden will become the 46th U.S. president amid nightmarish conditions, including a pandemic, economic devastation, rising urban crime, and cultural upheaval. Matters only worsened last week when a violent mob stormed the U.S. Capitol not long after President Trump’s divisive rally – the culmination of post-election disgruntlement. The nation’s chaotic state is the ultimate test for Biden, who, for decades, has presented himself as a loyal Democrat but also a unifying, centrist figure.

Biden’s persona is doubtless shaped by…

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