Hail to the chief!
Once again, Northeastern Pennsylvania will be in the national spotlight as the President of the United States pays our region a visit on Thursday.
Whatever your personal thoughts about Donald J. Trump, his planned appearance at the Mohegan Sun Arena is a positive thing for our area.
It says, most of all, that we matter. It says that the voters of Luzerne County are expected to play a critical role in the upcoming U.S. Senate race, in which two sons of the region — Rep. Lou Barletta and Sen. Bob Casey — vie for one of the commonwealth’s two seats in the nation’s upper chamber.
President Trump is coming to support the candidacy of Congressman Barletta, the former Hazleton mayor who has been a staunch Trump supporter since the early days of the 2016 campaign, when many in the Republican Party still saw Trump as an outsider running a novelty campaign that would soon run out of steam.
How wrong they were! How right Lou was! And the commander-in-chief will repay his Pennsylvania lieutenant’s loyalty on Thursday.
If it’s any indication of the crowds to come, a Trump merchandise vendor who set up shop outside a Wilkes-Barre gas station told reporter Dan Stokes on Monday that he already was doing a brisk business and expected to have to replenish his supply of red “Make America Great Again” hats before the rally.
That’s the power of the Trump name, and we will not be surprised to see banner crowds lined up Thursday to see the president, as in past visits.
We also won’t be surprised to see crowds of protesters nearby. As we also reported, at least two groups are planning counter-demonstrations in the area of Starbucks across the highway from the arena.
America remains a land of free speech, and the more the merrier, we say.
Our sincere hope, however, is that both sides will express themselves in a peaceful, respectful and orderly manner.
Those who come to see the president and support Barletta have a right to do so, and we hope that the historic event is one they will remember for years to come, for all the right reasons.
Those who come to protest at a respectful distance also have a right to do so, and we hope they will be able to do so without harassment or hostility.
Please, everyone, behave with respect and obey the law. America is watching. Let’s show the country Northeastern Pennsylvania’s best face.