The Trump-Pence sign still remains on an older building off Main Street in this historic town, a relic of the campaign fever that energized people, including those who continue to accept the fallacy that the former president did not lose in 2020 and hope he will run in 2024.
The fervor for Donald Trump’s particular brand of nationalist populism has eroded traditional Democratic strongholds such as Monongahela, approximately 25 miles south of Pittsburgh, where brick stores, a Slovak fellowship hall, and church bells line Main Street. In U.S. contests for governor this November in Pennsylvania, Republicans are depending on political nostalgia for the Trump era. Senate and congressional control.
“Trump just came along and filled the void,” said Matti Gruzs, who sews discarded blue jeans into tote bags, place mats, and other items for sale at the monthly downtown Farmer’s Market. He remains both king and kingmaker.
In hopes that their “Commitment to America” will tap into the same political fervor that Trump used to woo not just Republican, but also independent and former Democratic voters, the House Republicans have now launched their campaign platform against this lovely setting. However, it is uncertain whether the support that pushed Trump to the White House will be present on November 8th.
Even more difficult for the GOP is determining if Trump’s baseless allegations of voter fraud will damage the party if people believe the elections are rigged, as the deposed president asserts without evidence. Some may decide to simply abstain from voting.
“The race began with little enthusiasm,” said Dave Ball, chairman of the Republican Party in Washington County, which encompasses much of western Pennsylvania.
Demand for yard signs is Ball’s primary metric for measuring voter interest in the elections. “At one point, we wondered if we were going to see any,” he explained. “Right now, I am unable to obtain enough.”
Amy Michalic, who was born in Monongahela and works at the polls during elections, says she hears distrust from some people, especially Trump supporters, “who believe my vote doesn’t count.”
Trump’s allegations of fraud are unfounded. Trump’s and his supporters’ dozens of court cases have been denied or rejected by judges around the country, yet he continues to contest President Biden’s triumph. In every state, election officials have attested to the integrity of their elections, and Trump’s own attorney general at the time, Bill Barr, stated in 2020 that there was no voter fraud on a significant enough scale to affect the outcome.
Michalic reminds skeptics in her village of the significance of voting and says that in 2016, no one believed Trump would win. She stated, “Look what he accomplished, he took Pennsylvania.”
On a recent afternoon at the Farmer’s Market, voters voiced concerns common by many Americans in this election year: the high prices of everything, the difficulty of finding employees and well-paying jobs, and the culture wars.
Michelle DeHosse, sporting an American flag shirt as she assisted merchants with booth setup, asked, “Where do you begin?”
Since the pandemic, DeHosse, who owns a custom screen printing and embroidery firm on Main Street, has had difficulty hiring employees. While she claims she cannot afford the $20-per-hour wage and health insurance benefits that many applicants desire, she acknowledges that many employees require both. She stated, “The economy is the greatest cause for concern.”
There were few Democrats among the voters, who did not appear to have strong views for either of the Senate candidates, Democrat John Fetterman or Trump-backed Republican Mehmet Oz, this year. Several stated that they would likely vote along party lines.
Republican Carolyn McCuen, 84, having a riverside picnic with friends and McDonald’s coffee, stated, “I don’t like any of them.”
Another Republican, Sam Reo, 76, a retired mechanical engineer, added, “Me too,” as he played oldies on a portable speaker for the group.
Both want to vote still. Support for the absent Republican candidate for governor, Doug Mastriano. On January 6, 2021, Lincoln Highway, a major east-west thoroughfare in the state, will be lined with enormous billboards depicting the U.S. Capitol.
Mastriano is a “local folk hero,” according to Gruzs, who recalls Mastriano’s daily updates during the pandemic.
Gruzs, a history lover who home-schooled her children, has never missed a presidential election since voting for Ronald Reagan in 1980. The same applies to her husband, plumber Sam. They moved here from Baltimore twenty years ago in search of a better life. Now a grandmother, she spends her days crafting and listening to Steve Bannon, Charlie Kirk, and other far-right broadcasters.
She is not a fan of House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy and doubts that he has the necessary tenacity to advance the party’s agenda. She did, however, attend the gathering at a nearby manufacturing complex where the Republican program was unveiled. She was pleased to see the far-right Georgia representative Marjorie Taylor Greene at the ceremony with McCarthy, and she made sure to shake her hand.
If she is behind him, she said in a fading tone. Today, it appeared that he had sufficient force pushing him.
Two years after the election, Trump’s 2020 campaign sign hung atop a building off Main Street, but it was not the only one visible in the state.
Despite the potentially serious allegations being raised in state and federal investigations, a number of voters rejected the investigations into Donald Trump as a “witch hunt” aimed to prevent him from running for government again. Despite the violence perpetrated by pro-Trump supporters attempting to overthrow Biden’s election, several voters stated that the attack on the Capitol was not an insurrection.
Contrary to the hard facts of January 6, more than 850 people have been detained and accused in connection with the uprising, with some receiving heavy terms for their participation. Trump exhorted a rally gathering hours before the siege to “fight like hell” for his presidency. As Congress was confirming the election results, loyalists quickly breached the Capitol and engaged in hand-to-hand conflict with the police, disrupting the session. In the immediate aftermath, five individuals, one a Trump supporter who was shot by police, perished.
What if Trump were to run again?
McCuen, a retired church secretary, stated, “I hope he does.” “However, I am unsure if he will.”