Pennsylvania’s Democratic governor addressed a growing Philadelphia group organizing opposition to Republican President Trump’s agenda, telling a diverse crowd Sunday that their efforts will be the key that unlocks a progressive vision for the federal government.
“We need to take this nation back,” Wolf said. “What you’re looking to do is nothing less than secure the future of this country.”
His comments drew applause from more than 300 people at the Unitarian Society of Germantown on Lincoln Drive. The group was racially diverse, and included people ranging from their early 20s to retirees.
“I’m a member of the community,” said Numa St. Louis, 36, a first-generation American whose parents hail from Haiti. “We pride ourselves on being civically engaged.”
During his comments, Wolf highlighted his intention to veto Senate bill three, which would ban abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy except in medical emergencies, instead of the 24-week cutoff under current law. He also spoke about protecting workers’ rights to organize, and the need for affordable health care. In an interview after his remarks, Wolf said that small health centers in Pennsylvania would be particularly hard hit by major changes in health-care coverage.
“There are whole swaths in Pennsylvania that might go out of business,” he said.
The group that gathered in the Germantown church is part of a national movement called Indivisible, which offers a blueprint for local groups seeking to engage with national policymakers. Indivisible’s website states its guidebook has been downloaded more than a million times, and more than 4,500 local groups have signed up to “resist the Trump agenda."
With two attempts at a travel ban curtailing immigration, a combative relationship with reporters, the likelihood of a more conservative Supreme Court, and efforts afoot to change the way health care is provided, Trump and the Republican majority in both houses of Congress have given opponents plenty to strive against.
The Philadelphia group had its genesis in a meeting in Lila Berman’s living room five days after the election, she said.
The Temple University history professor doesn’t have a background as an activist. But concern about Trump’s election was so strong, she said, that she's found herself an organizer of a group that has grown significantly. Its members filled every seat in the church’s sanctuary Sunday, with many others standing. “People are craving ways to be involved,” Berman said.
After Wolf spoke, Berman directed people into eight teams focusing on the major issues of concern about Trump’s administration: civil rights, environment, free press, returning progressives to elected office, health care, Supreme Court and judicial issues, and reproductive rights. The teams are going to connect with other organizations that share their concerns and monitor their issues, Berman said. They can alert the local steering committee if there are changes proposed on their particular topics of concern, with the hope that they can rally support to fight any orders or legislation.
“The marches, the rallies, people need those for sustenance,” Berman said. “Then we’ve got work to do too. It can’t just be a rally. It can’t just be feeling good.”