Raising the Keystone – Upholding Democracy in Pennsylvania

Contributed by Lisa Bergson.

Writing on the night of January 6th, we see the extreme danger of embracing tyrants and coddling vigilantes and militias. Today, we saw the consequences in the invasion of our capital, the disruption of our formal electoral process, and the ransacking of the Capitol Complex, forcing our elected representatives to shelter, as though from an invader.  

Dear ILNHers, these thugs are our neighbors. Right up my block, read lawn signs: “America for Biden” “Trotsky, Stalin, and Socialists for Biden” and “Christians for Trump.”  My husband and I joked about posting a sign: “Hitler, Mussolini, and Putin for Trump”. But, we pulled up our election signs by November 10th for a reason. Win or lose, this is our community.  And our grassroots organizing must continue; our commitment to heal the searing wounds that divide us, is more urgent than ever. 

Here’s what to do now:

Protect Our Democracy:  This call just received from Jason Henry, Executive Director of the Pennsylvania Democratic Party, is so grave that I’m posting it verbatim:

For months, Harrisburg Republicans have echoed dangerous lies about mail-in voting—a process they, themselves, voted for just last year. They’ve held sham hearings, joined outrageous lawsuits to disenfranchise millions, and supported Trump’s calls to throw out their own constituents’ votes.

“On Tuesday, they escalated again. Mere hours before a mob wrecked our nation’s capitol, Republicans shamed our commonwealth’s capitol by refusing to seat a duly elected Democrat, citing the same unproven voter fraud Trump used to spur violence. That a handful of PA Republicans “disavowed” the political violence they spent months stoking is not enough. Immediate, corrective action is needed to restore faith in our electoral system.

“The fact is: There’s a dangerous anti-democratic streak among Pennsylvania Republican leaders. Today, we call on them to make amends and begin rebuilding the public’s faith in our elections.

First, the PA Senate should immediately swear in Senator Jim Brewster, the certified winner in Senate District 45.

Additionally, we ask that GOP leadership once again condemn violence, and we call on Senator Jake Corman to investigate his caucuses’ role in the attack, especially the presence of Doug Mastriano.

Finally, we call on Pennsylvania’s Republican leadership to state jointly and unequivocally that President-Elect Joe Biden won our state.

“None of these actions will fully correct the damage, paranoia, and division their actions have caused, but they’ll mark good first steps in the long road towards restoring faith in democracy.”

ACTION: Please call your Republican officials and ask that they take these steps towards restoring our democracy.

Block State Republican Attempt to Hijack the Courts. First, PA Republicans joined forces to try to disenfranchise all of us who chose to safely and legitimately vote by mail. Now, the GOP-controlled legislature is attempting to gerrymander our court system, which has served to protect our democracy by standing up to their baseless contention of voter fraud. With no provision for public comment and over the objection of legal experts and many former judges – Republican and Democrat — their goal is to splice the election of 31 Appellate Judges who rule statewide, into seven local districts. This power grab serves to reduce our judiciary’s political independence and diversity reflective of our state. It robs us of a say in the election of 90% of our statewide judges.  Our Republican-dominated State Legislature is fast-tracking this HB38 to amend our Constitution and degrade our widely respected judiciary.

ACTION: Join me and send a letter to your local representative.

TO LEARN MORE: 

  • Watch this short video: 
  • Attend an online event presented by the Bucks County League of Women Voters on Saturday January 9th. Register here. 

Feed Your HeadAs activists, the better informed and united we are, the more effective we can be.  That’s why Turn PA Blue is sagely using this time to offer an intriguing series of Wednesday seminars. Topics include “local races, our courts, redistricting, policy updates, data/mapping, and more”. In doing so, the organization aims to offer “opportunities to come together to listen, learn, plan, and continue our work for a better future”.

Dates, Times, and Events (events and speakers will be updated):

  1. Wednesday, January 13th, from 7-8 PM: No Off-Years: The Importance of Local Races. Guest speakers include Lara Putnam, Professor of History, University of Pittsburgh, State Representative Jennifer O’Mara, and Scranton Mayor, Paige Cognetti.
  2. Wednesday, January 27th, from 7-8 PM: Judicial Gerrymandering: What is it? Why Does it Matter? How Can You Stop It? Guest speakers include State Representative Mike Zabel, Deborah Gross, President and CEO of Pennsylvanians for Modern Courts, and PA Superior Court Judge Carolyn Nichols.
  3. Wednesday, February 3, Lunchtime (12-1 PM): Mapping the Political Geography of PA. Guest speakers included Lara Putnam, Professor of History, University of Pittsburgh, and Ben Forstate, Political Analyst.
  4. Wednesday, February 10, from 7-8 PM: PA Policy Update. Guest speakers include State Senator Katie Muth and State Representative Joanna McClinton.

CALL TO ACTION: I hope to see you at any or all of these Turn PA Blue events.

Promote Awareness and Uproot Racism in Our CommunityIn the aftermath of the brutal murder of George Floyd last summer, an interracial team was forged under the aegis of the Bucks County NAACP to focus on Criminal Justice and Education.  Specifically, they aim to work on legislation; to “reimagine public safety”, and to raise awareness among the general public and within our schools. “You can’t address racism unless you understand that it’s in your community,” says Helen Tai, who is helping to spearhead this vital initiative. To that end, the team has put together seminars on “Understanding White Privilege” and “Being a White Ally”, with February dates scheduled for, “Talking to Your Children About Racism” and “Implicit Bias and Micro-aggressions.” 

CALL TO ACTION:  

  • To get involved with this exciting and impactful mission, sign up for the Bucks County NAACP January newsletter, which details recent accomplishments and upcoming activities.
  • To volunteer for the NAACP Bucks County Criminal Justice and Education Committee, please contact Miriam Tucker (miriam@cjecbucks.org)

BUILD OUR BENCH: For our February edition, there will be an overview of the critical local elections coming up in 2021.  In the meantime, a wonderful opportunity to meet the Democratic candidates for Bucks County District Attorney and Judge of the Court of Common Pleas will be sponsored by Bucks Voices Zoom Webinar on January 25th at 7:00 p.m. Register for our Webinar!

I welcome news of your wins, events, and announcements.  Please email me at: LisaBergson0@gmail.com.

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