In 2016, Donald Trump won the State of Pennsylvania by 44,292 votes.
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. We were one of the first.
Our troubles didn't begin with Trump. Our economy, our democracy, our climate, and our communities have been in crisis for some time. Bridges are collapsing, schools are failing, and millions of Americans are being left behind. Racism, xenophobia, and intolerance are being stoked from the highest public office. Young people are pessimistic about their future, and people of all ages feel they have no say.
What has caused this erosion of the common good? In a word, greed. Unchecked greed – justified as “success” – has corrupted our political system, rigged our economy, and corroded the social fabric. Corporate lobbyists have hijacked Harrisburg and Washington, literally writing our laws and regulations in their own interests, while politicians spend their time wooing these same bad actors for campaign cash.
The results are devastating. The wealth we produce as a state and as a nation continues to concentrate at the tippy top. Hard-won protections for citizens, workers, consumers, and our natural environment have been systematically dismantled, all so the very rich can get even richer.
If there is an opportunity in this dangerous situation, it is that a majority of Pennsylvanians might come together to reject this tired old strategy of divide-and-control in favor of economic and social justice.
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. Together, we have to repair the common good, and ensure the inclusion and dignity of every person who contributes to the rich diversity of our beloved state.
Of course we’ll help get out the vote for the presidential election; we flipped Berks in 2008 and we can do it again. We will also continue to fight for the issues that are important to our community – economic and racial justice, affordable healthcare and prescription drugs, shutting down the Berks Detention Center, clean air and water, and keeping our public assets in the hands of the people. Berks Stands Up demands that our leaders fight for the issues that are important to us. If they don’t, we call them out and work tirelessly to replace them with those who will. There are vitally important elections this year at the state level as well, and we’ll fight for candidates who share our values and will move us toward a Pennsylvania that works for all of us.