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Never forgot where I came from and who we represent

This Guest Opinion by Chairman John Cordisco appeared in the Bucks County Courier Times on February 13, 2017. Full text:

In columnist J.D. Mullane’s latest salvo, he resorts to personal attacks and the stark generalization that anyone living above Route 1 doesn’t have an appreciation for anyone living below Route 1. While his main grumble appears to be with Hillary Clinton’s messaging during the presidential campaign, he seems awfully preoccupied with my “upscale ZIP code” and the fact that we have a professional staff at the Bucks County Democratic Committee.

I don’t know how he makes the quantum leap from a national presidential campaign to the local Bucks County Democratic Committee, its chairman (me), and its staff, but in my view he failed to make any connection between the national campaign’s failures and our local committee. He also completely ignores the 2015 election cycle, the most success we’ve had locally as a party in decades.

So, once again, it looks like I’m not only required to educate Mr. Mullane on my “log cabin story,” but I also need to refresh his memory of the conversation he and I had prior to his original column. During that almost 45-minute conversation, I clearly outlined for him the flaws of this last presidential campaign.

I would be the first to agree that the Clinton campaign missed serious messaging opportunities. I told him about my conversation with Vice President Biden where we agreed that it was a mistake to focus solely on social progressive issues and essentially ignore working class, blue collar America. I told him that regardless of whether Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton is elected president, the country faces a difficult task in providing a future for today’s youth — especially those who do not attend college.

The median household income in Bucks County is $76,000. There are people doing better and people doing worse. But even for those making the median, we should all appreciate how difficult it must be for those families who must decide between subsidizing health care or leaving their children with crushing student loan debt. I hope for their sake that President Trump can deliver on his promises. I’m not so optimistic given the reality of the task.

When I was attending Bucks County Community College, I was fortunate to work at National Can and earn a wage that allowed me to pay my own tuition and provide for my young family at the same time. But I still had to live with my parents.

Back then, there were several manufacturing companies in Lower Bucks County. Today, those employers no longer exist. During our conversation, I stressed to Mr. Mullane that our elected officials need to revamp our current educational models to expand curriculum at community colleges and vocational/technical schools to include training in the fields of tomorrow: robotics, technology, and energy. It’s no longer Pennsylvania vs. New Jersey vs. Delaware. We are now competing in a global economy.

Per Mr. Mullane, the out-of-touch sins I’ve so far committed are moving from Bristol, having a successful career, becoming one of the “Top 100 Trial Lawyers” in Pennsylvania (thanks for the plug), and hiring an experienced professional to run the daily operations of the party. Every county party should be so lucky. Incidentally, our “affluent, college-educated professional” 32-year-old executive director will be 50 before he pays off his student loans. But I suppose he’s out of touch, too.

Despite Mr. Mullane’s assertions, he doesn’t know me at all. My parents, ages 91 and 85, still live on Lincoln Avenue in Bristol. Every time I visit, I stop at Mazzanti’s for a bologna and mustard on a hard roll. I still have a satellite office in Bristol. My main office is in Trevose, where I mostly see clients from Lower Bucks County. I just recorded a video urging people to go online and vote for Bristol to receive a $500,000 grant from Small Business Revolution (www.smallbusinessrevolution.org). I’ve never forgotten where I came from.

I’m just hoping Mr. Mullane finds something more interesting to write about other than my not-so-interesting personal life and my Newtown Township lawn, which by the way, is much smaller than when I lived in Bristol.

 

Context: The above Guest Opinion was written in response to this column by J.D. Mullane published February 7, 2017. FULL TEXT:

It’s not me who’s out of touch, Chairman Cordisco

Columnist for Calkins Media. Ex-bartender. Cut my own lawn.

Every American has a log cabin story. Start small, work hard, gain success, reap riches, and don’t forget where you came from.

John Cordisco, who chairs the Bucks County Democratic Committee, has such a story, headlined “Democrats are the best friends a ‘little guy’ has.”

A piece bearing his byline published Sunday says so. He took issue with my Jan. 29 column, in which I offered advice to Democratic elites who have abandoned the party’s white working class base, lost the presidency to Donald Trump, and then convened meetings in West Virginia to learn how to talk to ordinary Americans.

The Bucks County Democratic Committee shows signs of this historic disconnect, too. Bucks County’s affluent, college-educated Democratic poohbahs are far from the scrappy, working-class Lower Bucks County guys who ran the party a generation ago.

Chairman Cordisco writes, “I don’t know who it is Mr. Mullane is talking about when he mentions the ‘affluent, college-educated professional class from up county that now run the party,’ because the last time I checked, the party is run and represented by one of the ‘little guys’ from Bristol named John Cordisco.”

His log cabin story follows: Cordisco’s hardscrabble life growing up in Bristol Borough, eking out a living at a well-paid union job, and going to college, Bucks County Community and Rider. Elected as a state rep. For some reason, he leaves out that he’s a personal injury lawyer, that he has his own firm, and that he was named by the National Trial Lawyers Association as one of the “Top 100 Trial Lawyers” in Pennsylvania.

Also, his listed address is no longer in Bristol Borough.

Where is Chairman Cordisco’s listed address? Let’s just say it’s a Bucks County neighborhood in which little guys could never buy into, and probably wouldn’t be wanted, anyway.

But those same little guys are more than welcome to arrive daily in the chairman’s upscale ZIP code to cut lawns, landscape gardens, wash, polish and detail the high-end cars, collect trash, and do all manner of home repair/renovation work that professionally manicured hands won’t do.

The hired help are the men and women who live where I do, Levittown, and in places like it.

They are the people the Democratic Party once proudly represented, but who were smeared by the party’s presidential candidate as “deplorables” and “irredeemable.” The people who the party elite are learning to “talk to.”

Cordisco dismisses this. Why, the headline I cited from Politico is “out of context.” Here’s the headline: “Democrats hold lessons on how to talk to real people.”

This is from the article: “Former Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear (D), along with Sens. Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.) and Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), held a session on ‘speaking to those who feel invisible in rural America,’ according to the schedule. Other sessions were along similar lines: ‘Listening to those who feel unheard’ and ‘Rising America — They feel unheard, too.’ ”

If that’s not enough, then how about the words of former Vice President Joe Biden, who said the party has lost touch with the working class. In an interview on MSNBC on Oct. 25, he told host Chris Matthews: “… That person — the guy works on the (factory) line, the woman’s a waitress, they’re making 90,000 bucks a year (together), and they still can’t make it, if they have two kids. And we don’t talk to them any more. We don’t associate with their difficulty anymore.”

Chairman Cordisco said he doesn’t know who I mean when I refer to the “affluent, college-educated professional class” that runs the party in Bucks County. Really?

He should check the LinkedIn profile of Eric Nagy, the party’s executive director since 2014: “Named by PoliticsPA.com as one of the top 15 Democratic political operatives … Featured on NPR’s ‘All Things Considered’ … Completed Campaign Management training with the New Organizing Institute in 2009 and with the DCCC … Appeared on/in NPR, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Huffington Post, Mother Jones, Christian Science Monitor, etc. as a spokesman … Specialties: political organization, campaign management, communications, speech writing. Founding Partner … at Penn Blue Strategies, a full-service Democratic, political consulting firm.”

While Cordisco, a professional, is out raising dough from other deep-pocketed professionals, a college-educated professional is professionally running the party from up-county.

Which is why the Dems are so shrunken as a national party. The professional class did well taking over the party. The working stiffs the party claims to represent can take their work trucks and head back to Levittown.

With best friends like that, who needs Republicans?