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Dent's departure makes Allentown vulnerable to Democrats

George F. Will on

Standing in line

Well we're waiting here in Allentown

For the Pennsylvania we never found

So the graduations hang on the wall

But they never really helped us at all

This was 34 years before the presidential election in which Pennsylvania was the most important of the three states (the others were Wisconsin and Michigan) that had voted Democratic in eight consecutive presidential contests but changed. Thirty-four years before the nation became fixated on the working-class distress caused by deindustrialization.

 

In 1982, after his song made its splash, Joel played a concert at Lehigh University (where Dent would be development officer, 1986-1990) and was given the keys to the city by Allentown's mayor. Bethlehem Steel ceased to exist in 2003, but 36 years is a long time in the life of a nation whose recuperative powers are as notable as its hypochondria. The Valley's population has increased about 33 percent since 1982 and its economy has diversified. Today the district's largest employer, as in much of aging America, is a health care provider. On a happier note, a large and venerable employer is a manufacturer of an addictive substance subject to abuse: Hershey.

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George Will's email address is georgewill@washpost.com.

(c) 2018, Washington Post Writers Group

 

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