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The Yinzers vs. The Jagoff

The key to understanding the Fetterman-Oz Senate race in Pennsylvania.
July 28, 2022
The Yinzers vs. The Jagoff
Pennsylvania Lt. Gov. John Fetterman campaigns for U.S. Senate at a meet and greet at Joseph A. Hardy Connellsville Airport on May 10, 2022 in Lemont Furnace, Pennsylvania. Fetterman is the Democratic primary front runner in a field that includes U.S. Rep. Conor Lamb and state Sen. Malcolm Kenyatta in the May 17 primary vying to replace Republican Sen. Pat Toomey, who is retiring. (Photo by Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images)

In Pennsylvania, the contest between Democrat John Fetterman and Republican Mehmet Oz has become an exercise in shitposting.

Last week for example, Oz tweeted out a meme from Lost attacking Fetterman’s restricted campaign schedule. Fetterman had a stroke earlier this year and has yet to return to the trail, so maybe this wasn’t the best look.

But in fairness to Oz, Fetterman clearly started it. He had a banner attacking Oz flown over the beach at the Jersey Shore. He tweeted out a Cameo from Snooki mocking Oz. He started a petition to get Oz into the New Jersey Hall of Fame.

It’s been kind of a lot.

But beneath the trolling, there might be something real going on.

Last week this tweet grabbed my attention:

Sure, this is just one Fetterman stan on the internet. But one word caught my eye.

Not “jagoff”—I’m from Cleveland and we hear Pittsburgh people saying that all the time because the Terrible Towel folks like to hurl it at the Dawg Pound.

Not “chipped ham”—which, for the uninitiated, is a below-average lunch meat Pittsburghers seem to love.

No, what stopped me in this tweet was the word “yinz,” which is the Pittsburgh version of the plural of “you.” You may also hear it in the form “yinzer,” which is the plural of the plural.

Fetterman’s fans use this term a lot these days.

The yinzification of this race comes from Fetterman himself.

It’s part of his persona—he’s a Pennsylvania lifer, a small-town guy whose dominant political identity is probably summed up as: champion of the Carhartt and weed set. He’s not a polished professional. He’s not great on TV. And his campaign has leaned into that.

This has boxed Oz into a corner. If he starts addressing Pennsylvanians as “yinzers” (and not all of them are; don’t go trying that in South Philly) it’ll just highlight the phoniness of his Pennsylvania roots. If he keeps ignoring the yinzers, then he’s ceding connection to a chunk of voters—especially in Beaver, Butler, and Westmoreland counties outside of Pittsburgh—who should be solidly his.

It’s bad enough that Fetterman looks like a walking, talking embodiment of yinzers. What makes it worse is that Dr. Oz comes across as fitting the “jagoff” label about as well as anyone could.

Oz is smooth and rich and from North Jersey (by way of Hollywood). He is immaculately tanned and appears to have perhaps 3 percent bodyfat. He is coiffed and manicured and looks as though he never skips either leg day or his core workouts. He is successful and swell and has been rushing from accomplishment to accomplishment his entire life. Which makes Mehmet Oz creepy and off-putting in some ways and perfectly admirable in others.

Not the worst guy in the world. Not evil or anything. Just kind of a jagoff.

You can’t always trust voters to know about policy positions or to understand the causes of the macroeconomic environment. They don’t always get the details right.

But if there’s one thing voters do know, it’s how to tell which candidate is one of yinz.

Because that is, when you get right down to it, what virtually every election is about.

Daniel McGraw

Daniel McGraw is a freelance writer and author in Lakewood, Ohio. Follow him on Twitter @danmcgraw1.