Philadelphia, we did it. The throngs of people dancing and celebrating in our streets, pictured and quoted across the country and around the world, didn’t just joyfully protect the vote. They were also the people who beat Donald Trump and got Joe Biden and Kamala Harris over the finish line.
It was our work, our connections with voters, and our vision that brought him to victory. Biden owes our movements a great deal of thanks for getting voters out to the polls to vote for him.
As usual, the Democratic Party played to a mythical swing voter while taking Black and brown voters for granted. It was up to our progressive movement to street canvass Philadelphia’s early vote centers and distribute water and face masks and answer voters’ questions.
The city’s powerful progressive coalition built its own infrastructure to build a different future. That coalition includes the Working Families Party, labor unions like SEIU 32BJ and UNITE HERE, whose workers were devastated by COVID yet knocked on thousands of doors, and community groups like API PA, Reclaim Philadelphia, 215 People’s Alliance, Black Voters Matter, Sunrise Movement, One Pennsylvania, and Free the Ballot. We worked across the city and across city lines, ensuring that a truly statewide movement would win the day.
Here are just a few examples.
Working Families Party led a massive get-out-the-vote program that won 47,000 early votes, mostly in Philadelphia and the collar counties, while UNITE HERE brought out a staggering 30,000 new voters. Progressive groups like the 215 People’s Alliance helped keep people in the voting lines fed, while One Pennsylvania knocked on doors, and Reclaim Pennsylvania made thousands of phone calls. And that’s just scratching the surface.
These coalitions deserve attention not only for securing Biden’s win but also because they will be leading us forward as we work to build a nation for the many, not the few.
This year our country exploded with multiple crises, and voters fired Donald Trump because he either ignored them or made them worse.
Trump may be on his way out, but the crises remain. The murder of Walter Wallace Jr. was not addressed by this election, or the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and so many others. COVID-19 still rages and has created multiple crises for working people: unemployment, housing, health care, education, child care, public safety, and more. And the wildfires and hurricanes fueled by climate change will only continue to grow more frequent and powerful.
Joe Biden must now address the crises Donald Trump would not, with solutions that meet their scale.
For progressives, Biden’s election is a doorway, not a destination. We are going to get our foot in that door right quick and make it open for our people. A Biden presidency creates more opportunities for building a world where all of us can thrive, no matter what you look like, who you love, where you come from, or how much money is in your pocket. If you want a glimpse of what that world might look like, see the Working Families Party’s People’s Charter, which has been endorsed by scores of elected leaders, including a dozen members of Congress and Philadelphia City Councilmembers Kendra Brooks and Helen Gym.
That’s what Philly fought for this election, and we’re going to keep fighting for it.
Nicolas O’Rourke is the Pennsylvania organizing director for the Working Families Party.