Grassroots conservative activists are gearing up to work for victories in 2024.

At a Keystone Town Hall meeting at a Malvern hotel last week, Gary Heasley led a discussion with Chester and Delaware County residents. He said they are focused on making sure people vote and that the elections are run fairly. The new group, Keystone Town Hall, is focused on messaging and voter turnout.

Keystone Town Hall will bring meetings to Philadelphia, Montgomery, Delaware, Berks, and Lancaster Counties.

Chesco United remains focused on election fraud, making sure voter rolls are updated and that no one is stuffing ballot boxes. The groups also work with Keystone Insights, Pioneer PAC, Keystone Fair Business Partners, and Moms for Liberty.

“Everybody’s trying to be more effective this year because they know this is the fight,” said Heasley. “This is the big fight. If we lose this year, we lose. I don’t think there’s a round two.”

Heasley and audience members discussed many topics, from the economy to foreign policy to illegal immigration. The discussion was free-ranging, with people commenting as Heasley gave his talk.

While by some indicators, the economy might be doing well, people in the U.S. have racked up more than $1 trillion in credit card debt, and “families have eaten through all their savings,” Heasley said.

“We’ve got people talking about not being able to buy food,” said Heasley. “And if you’ve been watching TikTok videos that pop up from time to time …kids, mostly young girls, talk about not making enough money to pay their bills, and they don’t see how to get out of ‘this economic trap.’

“Wages are going down in real dollars,” he said. He showed a slide from 2021 that said 37 percent of Americans faced challenges getting enough food. People are looking to the government now for food and housing, he said. But, he added, “It’s OK if (the government doesn’t) defend the country.”  In October 2023, 44.2 million households had difficulty getting enough food, including 13 million children.

From when Ronald Reagan was president through former President Bill Clinton, there was a time of great economic expansion. But now, the middle class is declining.

“That’s changed,” he said. “A lot of people are doing really, really well. And a lot of people aren’t. What’s going away is that group in the middle.”

Now, 56 percent of Gen Z are worried about making ends meet; 51 percent of Millennials, 37 percent of Gen X, and 25 percent of Baby Boomers are worried about their household budgets.

“The ground is shifting a little bit,” said Heasley. “Millennials are starting to say, ‘Maybe I have to pay attention’ and ‘Maybe what I’ve been believing isn’t true.’ Young voters are taking it seriously, 18 to 32 (year olds). They don’t know. They’re starting to wonder.”

Heasley says about 60 percent of Americans, including moderate Democrats, believe in the country and are persuadable to vote for GOP candidates.

“They know there’s a problem,” he said. But others who are either “highly indoctrinated” or careerists either don’t or don’t care “as long as they get their beach house.”

An audience member said younger generations are expressing resentment against Boomers, who’ve lived through comparatively good times.

Independents are seeing the light, Heasley said.

“We need allies to win. The patriots. The disaffected Democrats and even establishment Republicans,” he said. “What we showed in 2022, issues get people to vote, not mail-in ballots,” Heasley said.

An audience member said, “Whoever the candidate of the Republican Party is, we rally to him or her. A bad Republican is better than a good Democrat any day of the week in the general (election). You can do whatever you want in the primary. We don’t make any protest votes. We don’t say, ‘Out of principle.’ Because it’s a numbers game. You’ve got to do it.”

Heasley said, “In 2022, significant elements of the Republican Party abandoned (the state). We put up candidates that the voters wanted, a candidate for governor who got more votes (in the primary) than anybody since 1964, really popular, a very successful candidate. They refused to fund him. They sent money to (Gov. Ron) DeSantis that he didn’t need and didn’t spend and denied it to Pennsylvania.”

“Now (the state committee is) saying we’ll select the candidate, and the voters have to go along with it,” said Heasley.

Another man said the Democrats could “put up a tree” and their voters would vote for it. “Or a dead guy,” someone chimed in.

Heasley said, “Enthusiasm is required to get people to vote by mail or in person.”

A woman asked, “What’s wrong with a robust primary?”

“Sometimes the voters pick someone that power brokers don’t like,” said Heasley. “And that’s why the party abandoned Pennsylvania in 2022 and sent money to Florida that we desperately needed to save this state. I think a robust primary is a good decision. A good marketing tool. The party has to stop picking people because they’re somebody’s pal. They have to pick people the people are going to support.”

Next month, Keystone Town Hall will hold a meeting with the Amish in Lancaster County.

“We’re not texting them,” said Heasley, saying the group is running an ad in a popular publication that reaches Amish readers.

“I don’t think (the Amish) are going to vote for Marxists. They want to be respected and left alone,” said Heasley.

People are saying, “We want our freedom back. We want our prosperity back,” he said.

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