So You Want to Go to War With Philadelphia?

Good luck with that.

Protesters in Philadelphia
Rebecca Blackwell / AP

Donald Trump’s loyalists are fixated on Philadelphia, and its affection for Joe Biden, as the president’s reelection prospects fizzle. Ted Cruz called Philadelphia “lawless” and “the worst in the country.” Another pro-Trump pundit tweeted, “I’m going to Philly tomorrow. This is war.” The TV commentator Lou Dobbs called Philadelphia “a cesspool electorally” and said Republicans should “surround that thing.”

Trumpland’s focus on Philadelphia trickles down from Trump himself, who has frequently used the city as a sort of race-baiting euphemism to suggest voter malfeasance without evidence. In August, he gave rallygoers the wink-wink-nudge-nudge instructions to “watch Philadelphia, watch St. Louis, watch Chicago” for voter fraud. “And when I say ‘watch,’” Trump said, “you know what I’m talking about.”

But you want to go to war with Philly? Philadelphia? Guys. Seriously. Are you sure?

We’re talking about the city that booed Santa Claus and would do it again; where sports fans hurl batteries, snowballs, and vomit at the things they don’t like. Philadelphia! Home of the Broad Street bullies and the U.S. Constitution; where dismembered bodies and baby alligators turn up in the chemically polluted Schuylkill River; where people happily swim in garbage dumpsters when it gets hot; where they have to grease the lampposts to stop exultant drunks from climbing them. This is the city that beheaded a child-size talking robot.

You want to find someone who’s up for anything at any time? Go to Philly. Troublemaking is in Philadelphia’s blood.

We’re talking about the city that throws a parade every New Year’s Day to celebrate free booze and getting rowdy; where a Muppet-like agent of chaos is an icon; where trash-talking is the purest display of affection there is; where Smokin’ Joe Frazier perfected the left hook that would take down Muhammad Ali; where the stadiums have jails and people pay good money to smash things.

This is the city whose mob bosses laugh when they get arrested; where you can get a tattoo of Benjamin Franklin eating a cheesesteak and flipping somebody off; where heroically catching a baby tossed from a burning building is an opportunity to diss an Eagles wide receiver. The city whose mayor once issued an official statement calling Trump a “fragile egomaniac … afraid of the embarrassment of throwing a party to which no one wants to attend.”

You hear that sound coming out of the City of Brotherly Love? It’s 1.6 million Philadelphians putting down their hoagies and waving you over.