“We’re your neighbors,” Eliza Booth said Wednesday, speaking of herself and her colleagues in Lancaster Stands Up.
Booth, Zak Gregg and Kareena Rios spent an hour with LNP’s Editorial Board discussing the progressive grassroots activist group to which they belong and rebutting what they said are mischaracterizations promulgated by political opponents.
Here are three takeaways from the conversation:
Lancaster Stands Up: We stand for Lancaster values
Lancaster Stands Up, the three said, is centered on broadly shared values: inclusion, loving one’s neighbor as oneself and being welcoming to people from different cultures and walks of life. Its advocacy on immigration, affordable housing, a living wage and so on stem from those commitments.
These days, ordinary working people are largely shut out of politics, Rios said. Lancaster Stands Up works to help them engage in the process and make their voices heard.
Watch: Lancaster Stands Up talks with LNP's Editorial Board
In a two-party system, an advocacy group’s goals will probably tend to align more with one side, Booth said. But she emphasized: “We are not the Democratic Party.” Lancaster Stands Up’s endorsements in races are made based on how members vote, not a candidate’s political affiliation.
That’s not how the group is generally perceived, said LNP Community Liaison Barbara Hough Huesken: It’s typically viewed as firmly Democratic and extremely liberal, even radical.
“I don’t think I’m a radical,” Booth said. “The things we want ... are very mainstream.”
It’s organizing for the long haul
Lancaster Stands Up campaigned heavily on behalf of Jess King, the Democrat who unsuccessfully attempted to deny Republican U.S. Rep. Lloyd Smucker a second term in the 2018 election. While the loss was upsetting, members didn’t lose heart, the three said.
“If anything, we’re more committed” since the King-Smucker race, Gregg said, “because we realized how long a road we have ahead of us.”
For some members, their involvement has led to them running for office themselves, Rios said. She is among them, seeking a seat on the School District of Lancaster board.
It remains resolutely opposed to Trump and Smucker
The three contended that President Donald Trump and Smucker practice the politics of division and don’t represent the interests of most Lancaster County residents.
Rios characterized Trump’s politics as racist and exclusionary. Lancaster Stands Up was formed to oppose Trump’s ideology and policies, and will continue to do so, she said.
Smucker, she said, frequently echoes the president’s rhetoric. And his record since his election to Congress shows he’s beholden to big donors, not his constituents, Gregg said.