Philadelphia experienced a Young Frankenstein moment last week.
Young Frankenstein was Mel Brooks’ hilarious 1974 take on monster movies. A wild-haired Gene Wilder, playing Dr. Frankenstein, at first seems to fail in his attempts at bringing the dead back to life. But then, hearing strange noises, Frankenstein returns to his laboratory.
“Alive,” he says in surprise, wonderment, and awe, standing over the stirring monster. “It’s alive! IT’S ALIVE!!!”
Pardon anyone having a similar reaction to this month’s resurrection moment when the Philadelphia Republican Committee, spurred to action for what might be the first time since the Lincoln funeral procession, sent out a press release taking a stand on an issue.
Rick Helberg, the new chairman of at least one wing of the feuding city party, came out against the tax-increase proposals under review by City Council. Helberg’s view was dismissed by officialdom. But that’s not the news here.
City Council, mayors, voters, and most everyone else in the known universe, have long ignored the Philly GOP — because for decades it has had nothing of significance to say about any issue facing the city, whether it was crime, schools, taxes, or services.
As a result, a myopic Philadelphia is run by competing factions of mostly liberal Democrats. So it’s no wonder that the only question for policymakers over the last five years has been: Which tax should we raise? Instead of, should we find an alternative to raising taxes?
Helberg doesn’t have all the answers — or even a united party. But if his ascension means the city GOP is finally interested in doing more than settling for scraps from the majority party, and ready to begin offering serious policy alternatives on issues that matter to Philadelphians, then this recent press release is a most welcome sign of life.