NW Philly responds to President’s speech

Local progressives gathered at the House of Jin restaurant in Germantown to listen to the President’s speech Tuesday night filled with hope, and more than a little apprehension.

“President Obama needs to stand fast for what he believes in, and not cave in to what the Republicans want,” said East Mt. Airy resident Shirley Daily. It was a familiar sentiment from many of the liberals who were disappointed with some of Obama’s positions over the last two years.

40 political and community activists attended the watch party sponsored by Organizing for America, a project of the Democratic National Committee. Many of them worked on Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign, and again in the 2010 mid term elections. That kind of history comes with high expectations.

“I want our President to address ways to strengthen our economy, produce jobs and improve the environment,” said David Schogel, a Germantown resident and the organizer of the event.

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Like many at the watch party, John and Nancy Churchville, who run a local community development corporation, arrived concerned about health care. “I am pleased that the Obama administration has advanced a national HIV/Aids strategy,” said John Churchville. “We want him to continue to make improvements in health care that will benefit our community.”

The President’s promise of more higher-education aid for the middle class hit a chord with many like Cherron Thomas, who has a daughter in college. Others, like Joyce Woods valued Obama’s education platform for more general reasons.

“I want education to improve and expand so that we can compete worldwide,” said Joyce Woods.

Attendees clapped when President Obama stated that our country cannot afford to extend tax cuts for the richest 2% of Americans. There were smiles of approval when he announced the new goal that 80% of America’s electricity will come from clean energy sources by 2035. And there were still more reasons for relief.

“He defended the health care law and then some,” said Nancy Churchville.  “I was also surprised that he made such a strong stand on the [don’t-ask-don’t-tell] ban.”

But others were disappointed that the President did not say one word about gun control.  “This would have been an opportune moment to promote the assault weapons ban,“ said Germantown resident Lenny Belasco.

As the crowd filtered out of the restaurant when the speech was done, it was clear that in the main, they were still behind their biggest candidate. But there was also some concern that Obama could hold the line against Republicans who want drastic cuts in social programs to accompany his proposed spending freeze.

Organizer Dave Schogel put it to words.

“My only apprehension is whether the Republicans will participate and not play hard-ball,” he said.

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