WHEN I COVERED the protests of President Trump and the Republicans on retreat in Philadelphia last week, I was struck by the sheer number of signs that were carried by protesters. Many were straightforward about stopping the repeal of Obamacare. Many beat to death the meme of Trump as Hitler. Some were very crude, and others were really clever.
Signs like "We want a leader not a creepy tweeter" were interesting. As a Sixers fan, I think "Trust the protest" was probably my favorite. They mostly reflected anger and desperation.
However, I noticed two signs hanging from a construction site around 11th and 12th and Market that diametrically opposed the anger of the protests. In fact, one sign actually welcomed President Trump to Philadelphia. One sign read "Build Union. Buy American." Another read "Welcome to Philly, Mr. President."
The signs caught the attention of Fox News contributor and pollster Frank Luntz, who tweeted about them and identified that they were put up by IBEW Local Union 98, John Dougherty's union. Breitbart News picked up the story and originally went with a false narrative that union workers put up the signs but were forced to take them down by their union bosses.
I went to Johnny Doc for answers. He joined me on my radio show and said about the signs, "We didn't tell them to take them down. We actually paid for it." When I asked about placing the signs in such a visible location in the middle of the protests, he said, "Why would you place the signs where no one can see them?" He went on to mention that site as an example of the union placing its pension money up front to develop an area that was an eyesore where, Dougherty said, people "hung out at night to drink wine."
Dougherty's line of thinking did not surprise me. I recently wrote a column in which I recounted a recent letter he had sent to his union members in which he went after the extreme cultural liberalism of the national leadership of the Democratic Party. These banners were a clear signal that not every power bloc in Philadelphia was opposed to trying to work with Trump.
Doc told me that he was in touch with some national union leaders who had met with Trump last week at the White House. He verified that they and Trump had good discussions on jobs, infrastructure and unleashing our energy sources.
After interviewing a lot of protesters and hearing them bravely label themselves the Resistance (berets optional), I wondered how they would view Dougherty and union leaders. Would they see them as dupes of the new Hitler helping him to build a new Reich?
Dougherty also brought up his opposition to undocumented workers and the lengths his union has gone to in order to stop Philadelphia area employers from hiring and exploiting people who are here illegally. This is an area Trump made the core of his campaign.
What I see playing out here is whether the Democratic Party can keep its coalition of angry perpetual protesters who want to fight Trump by any means necessary and middle-class workers who see Trump as someone who will save jobs and create new ones.
One area where I see a clear conflict is energy. Unprompted, Dougherty told me how important it was to his members to increase the production of energy from the nation's natural resources. He was very proud of what his members had done at energy facilities at Marcus Hook. Of course, this flies in the face of many on the left who see all this as a big threat to the environment.
So, while there were an impressive number of signs and protesters against Trump last week in Philadelphia, those union banners hanging from the construction site are a much more important sign of the future. Trump must deliver on jobs and the economy to keep them up. As far as Democrats are concerned, good luck.
Teacher-turned-talk show host Dom Giordano is heard 9 a.m. to noon weekdays on WPHT (1210-AM). Contact him at www.domgiordano.com