By Salena Zito at RealClear Politics
New Baltimore, PA
Most people speeding along the Pennsylvania Turnpike, on a curve cutting the deep valley between High Knob and Cove Ridge, will miss seeing the only set of stairs on America’s first superhighway.
For 75 years the stairs have connected road-weary travelers with God, thanks to a shrewd parish priest who traded some cemetery land for unconventional access to a Catholic church overlooking the highway.
The turnpike separated the church from the town. Instead of screaming about unfairness or demanding restitution, the community — nearly all descendants of the town’s founders, who came from Maryland in 1822 — found a way to attend Mass in spite of the highway, and to share their blessings with hundreds of thousands of people.
The steps lead up to the church from the eastbound berm or over a footbridge on the westbound side.
We are a country that instinctively works from strength, independence, stubbornness, and a willingness to persevere despite what appear to be monumental obstacles.
We just fix things, without ceremony or fists in the air.
This is a stark contrast with those union-organized “fairness” protests pitting community members against each other, or businesses being forced to raise entry-level wages because the government thinks that is “fair.”
Most of this country wants to elect a president in 2016 who is for all the people, from Baltimore, Md., to New Baltimore, Pa., and beyond.
President Obama has celebrated that he is not, nor ever intended to be, such a leader.
He has used his position as one of deep correction, to change what his elite and academic prisms view as a deeply flawed country.
Those corrections were not made in the spirit of taking us together to a better place. Instead, they have been bitterly divisive and intended to produce “justice.”
There is nothing wrong with change, but a good leader would have invited all of us to take that journey. Not doing so has been Obama’s greatest flaw.
Last week’s Democrat debate was incredibly revealing of where this party wants to take the country. With the exception of Jim Webb, everyone on stage seemed to loathe anyone who wouldn’t vote for them in a primary.
They hate gun owners and supporters of traditional values; unless you’re “progressive,” you have no place in their view of the world.
They think America’s worst enemies are climate change, the NRA, and Republicans.
The answer that gave Hillary Clinton her biggest applause came when she was asked what would separate her from President Obama. Her answer: gender.
“Well, I think that’s pretty obvious,” she said about being a woman.
Racial justice, gender justice, pay justice — that is what all of the Democrats spoke to.
All of them embraced the concept that “black lives matter” over other American lives.
They did so on a national stage while demanding free college for everyone and in-state tuition for illegal immigrants, all in an effort to appeal to the Obama base but excluding the rest of America.
They made clear that each would be the president of progressives, not of all Americans.
Washington’s conventional wisdom and New York City’s counter-culture smart-takes praised the debate rhetoric.
Earlier this month, Harvard-educated lifelong Manhattanite Josh Barro, a New York Times reporter, tweeted: “Whenever I’m in a plane over middle America, I look down and think, ‘That’s where 2 Broke Girls viewers live.’”
Those 20 contempt-laced words explain how many in the national press view the rest of the country, and they reflect how many progressives view Main Street.
Residents of New Baltimore consider their town and its unique place in Americana to be a slice of heaven.
The next time you laugh at the frustration of voters who throw their support behind such unlikely candidates as Donald Trump or Carly Fiorina, remember that frustration comes at the hands of a system that has tried to push aside their way of life.
Next year, after 75 years of serving America a slice of heaven along Pennsylvania’s turnpike, the church steps will be gone — a victim of highway regulations, despite a passionate yet respectful plea from New Baltimore’s 157 residents.
Something tells me they’ll find a way to persevere.
Salena Zito is a Pittsburgh Tribune-Review editorial page columnist. She is also a frequent contributor on The John Batchelor Show.
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