In the wake of that election, thousands of Pennsylvanians came together — not just in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, but in towns and small cities across the state. Almost overnight, resistance groups emerged in every one of Pennsylvania’s 67 counties.
Over the past three years, we have made tremendous gains across our state, developing nascent resistance groups into lasting grassroots infrastructure in areas where there had been little to none. These efforts are already changing what’s possible in our state.
Now, after the midterms and in the lead-up to 2020, several of the most game-changing organizations and campaigns in our state are combining forces. Keystone Progress, Reclaim Philadelphia, Lancaster Stands Up, York Stands Up, local Indivisible chapters, and leaders from PA Together, Beyond the Choir, and the Jess King for Congress and Greg Edwards for Congress campaigns are forming into a powerful new statewide organization: Pennsylvania Stands Up. We are joining forces because we are aligned in our conviction that there’s a massive unorganized base of voters in our state that can be organized, when we do the work.
Our plan is to build on our successes from the past three years; to both deepen and scale our work to build people power across Pennsylvania, especially in small cities, towns, and rural areas, while working collaboratively with a broader alignment of allied organizations. We’re eager to consolidate lessons from the past three years—to win elections, win issue campaigns, and win power for everyday working people in our state.
Today we see crisis all around us: in our economy, our democracy, and our communities. Bridges are collapsing, schools are failing, and millions of Americans are being left behind. This is as true for Pennsylvania as it is for our country. Young people are pessimistic about their prospects and about the future of our nation. The scourges of racism, xenophobia, and intolerance are still with us today; indeed, they are being stoked from the highest public office.
What is the force that has caused this erosion of the common good? In a word, the culprit is greed. Unchecked greed has corrupted our political system, rigged our economy, and corroded the social fabric. Corporate lobbyists have infested Harrisburg as surely as they have infested Washington, literally writing our laws and regulations for decades now, while politicians spend half their time wooing these same bad actors for campaign cash. The results are devastating. The wealth that we produce as a state and as a nation continues to concentrate at the tippy top. Hard-earned protections for citizens, workers, consumers, and our natural environment have been systematically dismantled. The greed of Wall Street and the one percent has undermined the common good, all so the very rich can get even richer.
And greed has accomplices. Greed can only operate unchecked when there is already a deficit in our solidarity with one another. In President Trump, we can see plainly how greed and fear find common cause. Trump has preyed upon anxiety and resentment while intentionally fomenting prejudice and intolerance.
If there is an opportunity in this dangerous situation, it is that a majority of Pennsylvanians might come together now to reject this tired old strategy of divide-and-control. There is a promising potential for a popular movement that truly embraces liberty and justice for all—both economic and social justice.
To reclaim our country and our commonwealth, we have to repair the common good. We have to ensure the inclusion and dignity of every person who contributes to the rich diversity of our beloved state. We can reimagine our society as a beloved community, where we take responsibility for each other as sisters and brothers; where we love our neighbor as ourselves, regardless of race, religion, sexual orientation, or country of origin; and where we strive to leave the world a little better than we found it for our children.
There is only one political force that can fix our democracy and create a Pennsylvania that works for all of us. That force is us. We the People. Today millions of us are joining together to take action — in the streets, in town halls, in congressional offices, and on the ballot. Our mission is to overcome the toxic combination of trickle-down economic policies and social division that has wreaked havoc on working families.
This precarious moment presents us with an opportunity, if we seize it. The time is ripe for everyday Pennsylvanians—urban and rural, white, black, and brown—to bust back into politics to reclaim our democracy. So many people have struggled to make our state and our nation better. Now it’s our turn and our responsibility to take up this mantle.
We’ve made a remarkable start these past three years. A silver lining of Trump’s election is that it galvanized a new generation of grassroots leaders across Pennsylvania, who have organized hundreds of rallies, run for office, and knocked hundreds of thousands of doors. The vision of Pennsylvania Stands Up is to support these emerging leaders and groups to develop, realize their potential, and win.