Philly’s O’Rourke gives Working Families Party response to Biden SOTU address • Pennsylvania Capital-Star

Philadelphia City Councilmember Nicolas O’Rourke delivered the Working Families Party’s response to President Joe Biden’s State of the Union speech on Thursday, arguing that his party helped put Biden in the Oval Office, but that the president is in danger of losing those voters in November.

“Wars in Palestine and Trump era immigration policies are out of step with our values and endangering the coalition that elected you in the first place, the coalition that you need to come together again,” O’Rourke said. “But here’s the good news: There’s still time for you to unite that coalition, if you heed the calls from the people.”

O’Rourke, a pastor and community organizer, was elected to an at-large seat on Philadelphia City Council in 2023. He joined Kendra Brooks as the second member of the Working Families Party to win a seat on Philadelphia City Council. Their victories in 2023 knocked off all Republicans serving as council members at-large in the city.

Brooks and O’Rourke both ran for citywide seats in 2019, although O’Rourke was unsuccessful during that campaign. 

“We have our differences with the Democratic Party to say the absolute least,” O’Rourke said Thursday. “But as someone who personally organized on the ground to get out the vote in 2020, and to make sure that every single vote was counted, I do not believe that we can afford to enable the re-election of Donald John Trump. We can’t fracture or leave the front, not if we want and aspire to lead it.”

“So, Mr. President, we need you to do your part too, sir,” he added. “Do not damage your legacy, and then fracture your coalition on behalf of Bibi Netanyahu.”

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O’Rourke described the path forward as “twofold.” 

“We already know what it looks like when the MAGA movement holds power. If the authoritarian right takes control, it gets even harder to build a nation rooted in justice and dignity,” he said. “But blocking the right isn’t enough. Never has been. Which is why we build independent political power for working people that bends the arc towards justice.”

While touting the Working Families Party for its effort toward defeating Trump in 2020, O’Rourke credited the Biden administration and Democrats in Congress for investing in healthcare, infrastructure, clean energy, and their response to COVID-19. However, he said more fixes were needed, including for affordable childcare and expanded Medicare coverage. 

In recent weeks, some Democrats have voiced their dissatisfaction with Biden’s job performance by voting  “uncommitted” on primary ballots. O’Rourke mentioned that movement along with the protest taking place in Washington D.C. Thursday night, saying he hoped the president was listening to their concerns. 

Working Families Party National Director Maurice Mitchell praised O’Rourke ahead of his speech for winning the seat in Philadelphia and helping make the party a “rising force in Philadelphia.”

“Nicolas will bring all his moral clarity and strategic vision to this speech,” Mitchell wrote in a release Thursday. “Just like in 2020, winning states like Pennsylvania will mean really understanding what matters to working people in cities like Philadelphia. Anyone who wants to stop the MAGA movement in its tracks should listen to Nicolas closely.” 

O’Rourke’s speech marks the seventh time that the Working Families Party has delivered a response to a president’s address before a joint session of Congress. Previous responses include Rep. Delia Ramirez in 2023, Rep. Rashida Tlaib in 2022, Rep. Jamaal Bowman in 2021, Rep. Ayanna Pressley in 2020, former Wisconsin Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes in 2019, and former U.S. Rep. Donna Edwards in 2018.

O’Rourke mentioned U.S. Rep. Summer Lee (D-12th District) by name twice and other Democrats who have supported the Working Families Party, saying it was imperative to support their candidacies to Congress and other Working Families Party candidates running for local office nationwide. It is a time to organize, O’Rourke added.

Biden’s first post-SOTU campaign stop will be in Pennsylvania, when the president visits an elementary school in Delaware County. The event will be the president’s fourth visit of 2024 to the Keystone State.

While the Working Families Party is a third party and has sparred with the Philadelphia Democratic Party in recent years, it conducted get-out-the-vote operations in Pennsylvania and other swing states in an effort to defeat Donald Trump in 2020.

In 2023, the Working Families Party held its first-ever national convention in Philadelphia and backed Democrat Dan McCaffery’s bid for the Pennsylvania Supreme Court and several other Democrats running across the commonwealth.

Originally published at,by John Cole

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