Peter Panepento, a blogger at Outside Erie, has a post up about Erie’s biggest enemy being its past.  Simply put, Erie can’t move forward because it’s always looking backward.

When I think about my experiences in Erie and also the smaller cities of Meadville, Pennsylvania and Salem, Ohio, I think the same thing could be said of them.  It’s a cliche anymore to discount local politics as too bitter and nasty to accomplish anything, and I think in each place I’ve been over my 24 years, this has held true.  People can’t separate the common good from the personal, and so they go to the mud, taking the public with them (there are too many who go willingly).

Yes, I said the word “bitter.”  And maybe this is what Barack Obama was trying to say when he famously slipped up last spring in San Francisco.  People are too scared to change; they’re paralyzed by fear, because, as Panepento notes, the last memory these people have of success is too far gone.

I’ve heard many people over the years talk about how we can get Erie back to where it used to be — back in the days when the factories were booming and people were flocking to the region in search of family-sustaining blue-collar jobs. The days when men with calloused hands could put in a honest 8 hours at the plant, head to the corner bar for an after-work beer, then get home for dinner.

Citizens of these northern cities and small towns are in this thirty-year depression, and they just can’t snap out of it.

Panepento concludes his post with a rallying cry to pressure government like they haven’t been pressured before.  I’d certainly agree with this.  Contrary to what these “Yes We Did” people think, our job isn’t over.  Elections aren’t the be-all, end-all of our political system.  As citizens of these communities, we have a duty to push those representing us to lead in the right direction — forward.  And until a significant number of citizens living in the Great Lakes region realize this, these communities will continue to sulk and become pathetic shells of their former selves — at the expense of the common good.

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