For Philadelphia sports fans, the image of 76ers point guard Allen Iverson—a.k.a The Answer—stepping over Los Angeles guard Tyronn Lue in overtime as the Sixers handed the Lakers their first and only loss of the 2001 NBA playoffs is legend. By Friday afternoon, as the city’s mail-in ballots for the 2020 election pushed Joe Biden ahead in Pennsylvania, signaling that the state would more than likely go blue as thousands of the largely democratic electorate’s votes remained uncounted, it had been given the meme treatment, with Lue replaced by a tantrum-ing Donald Trump. And by late Saturday morning, as the city’s vote tally gave Biden a comfortable enough lead over Trump for multiple news outlets to call Pennsylvania for Biden, it appeared Philadelphia once again had the answer we’d all been waiting for.
It was a fitting location for the end of one of the most contentious races in United States history—specifically as Trump notoriously called out Philadelphia as a place where “bad things happen” during the first presidential debate, part of an extended attack on mail-in voting. (No credible evidence of election fraud has been reported in Pennsylvania, except for a registered Republican man in Luzerne County trying to vote for his departed mother, according to Pennsylvania Lieutenant Governor, John Fetterman.) But it also happens to be the birthplace of American democracy—and my birthplace as well. Last night, as jubilant crowds and dancers in mailbox costumes gathered around the Philadelphia Convention Center, my father left his office to join the hordes gathered a stone’s throw from where this country’s forefathers drafted the Declaration of Independence; he sent some particularly poorly filmed video clips with the caption, “democracy at work.”
And that is exactly how you can describe the big-budget and grassroots organizations that helped boost voter turnout by an estimated 3%—up to about 62% from 59% in 2016— in the near-majority-Black city and its suburbs, with many going for Biden. But in this die-hard sports town (you might recognize Gritty, the Philadelphia Flyers’ orange mascot-turned-Antifa star, from other memes currently dominating your timeline), taking down bullies is as intrinsic as a cheesesteak Whiz wit. Rocky did it in 1976, the Philadelphia Eagles did it at the 2018 Super Bowl (never forget!), and that OG Philly freedom fighter, Benjamin Franklin, did it in 1776, when he and the other members of the Continental Congress effectively ousted a different tyrant from overarching rule. “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness,” Franklin and friends famously wrote. But this less quotable line also remains as true today as it was 244 years ago: “Whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government”—in Philadelphia and all across this great nation. Amen, and goodbye.