With the 2022 mid-term elections in full-swing, we must take heart the lessons of the 2016 and 2020 elections that what you and others decide at the ballot box lead to policies that have an impact on your life. While most of the races are for US Congress, Senate, and state legislatures, there are plenty of races for other state and local offices as well. In my home state of Pennsylvania, there is a race to decide the state’s next governor between current state attorney general Josh Shapiro and State Senator Doug Mastriano. Now I’m all in for the Democratic nominee, Shapiro given his illustrious term where he released the infamous Grand Jury Report on sex abuse within the Catholic Church as well as issued a report on the state government’s complicity in siding with natural gas companies that I used in my post promoting my novel, The Trouble at Deacon Hill. However, even if you don’t care for this guy, I strongly urge all of my fellow Pennsylvanians to vote for Shapiro because at least he’s not his opponent, GOP gubernatorial nominee, Doug Mastriano.
I may identify as a progressive Catholic SJW who thinks politicians opposing universal healthcare shouldn’t hold political office and thus will be voting for Democratic candidates until the day I die. I may also disagree with Doug Mastriano on practically everything. However, if my beef with this guy was just over his positions on issues I cared about, I wouldn’t be writing this urging everyone in my state to vote for Josh Shapiro. In fact, Shapiro could be the sleaziest and most incompetent state attorney general we ever had and I’d still think he was the better candidate than Mastriano. Mainly because my issues with Mastriano as a liberal Catholic considerably pale in comparison to mine as an American citizen of this great state that throughout my life, I have called my home.
Pardon my liberal bias but my main issue with Doug Mastriano has everything to do with his support of the Big Lie and his involvement in the January 6 insurrection at the US Capitol. Now when a candidate loses, the also-ran gracefully concedes, congratulates the victor for a well-run race, and encourages their supporters to accept the results before everyone moves on. But because Donald Trump is a narcissistic psychopath who can’t accept the reality of his defeat, he spouted conspiracy theories and false allegations that the 2020 election was rigged for Joe Biden. In fact, he still insists the election is rigged to this day. During the last months of his presidency, he did practically everything he could to try and overturn the results of an election he clearly lost fair and square. Yes, he threw Twitter tantrums and held rallies rallying his most devoted cultists to “stop the steal.” But he also had plenty of political allies in both houses of Congress and throughout the country who tried to undermine the results in his favor. One of these people is Pennsylvania State Senator Doug Mastriano.
From November 5, 2020, Doug Mastriano has led state efforts to overturn the 2020 election in Pennsylvania, a state that proved crucial in securing Joe Biden’s victory over Donald Trump. On November 27, he and three other state senators announced they’d introduce a resolution to permit the General Assembly to appoint delegates to the Electoral College instead of following the presidential vote results in the state. As circulated in a memo seeking additional co-sponsorships, this proposal claimed that, “officials in the Executive and Judicial Branches of the Commonwealth infringed upon the General Assembly’s authority by unlawfully changing the rules governing the November 3, 2020 election in the Commonwealth” and declares that “based on the facts and evidence presented and our own Board of Elections data, that the Presidential election held on November 3, 2020, in Pennsylvania is irredeemably corrupted.” Keep in mind that Pennsylvania’s General Assembly has a Republican majority mainly because the legislature’s usually in charge with redistricting state’s map which is heavily gerrymandered to favor them. And if you think US Congressional map was so gerrymandered to be struck down and redrawn. Well, it has nothing with what the state legislature map looks like. Anyway, this is just something to keep in mind with how well the PA legislature represents the interests of the state’s people. Even so, you can clearly see this as Mastriano wanting to use the legislature to surpass the will of the people in regards to deciding a presidential election. All because Pennsylvania voters chose electors for a candidate that Mastriano really didn’t want to win.
On December 2, 2020, the York-Dispatch‘s editorial board wrote an article describing the state senator as a guy who “regularly spouts his love of freedom” but has a relationship to Donald Trump that had been “exposed as nothing more than a vassal doing his master’s bidding.” They also state his action were that of a “craven oligarch” making “a shocking call for tyranny” in a “campaign to undercut democracy itself for a generation.” Nine days later, Doug Mastriano published an op-ed in the York Daily Record accusing Governor Tom Wolf, PA Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar, and PA’s Supreme Court of taking advantage of the Covid 19 pandemic to abuse and contravene 2019’s Pennsylvania Act 77, claiming they “have been making up rules on the fly and unconstitutionally rewrote the law, which compromised our election.” He also stated that he joined two lawsuits seeking to overturn the 2020 election results, which were both struck down due to lack of standing. It’s one thing when a politician takes positions on issues and supports candidates that you don’t like. But it’s a far more serious matter when a politician is willing to undermine the whole system in order to overturn election when he doesn’t like the results. The fact Mastriano tried to this in 2020 should deeply disturb any Pennsylvanian who believes in American democracy.
Of course, if you’ve been paying attention, Donald Trump’s efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election would eventually culminate in the events of Wednesday, January 6, 2021. On a day when a joint session of Congress was set to certify the results 2020 presidential election and formalize Joe Biden’s victory, a violent mob of 2,000-2,500 Trump supporters stormed the US Capitol Building in order to overturn his defeat. In the days leading up to the insurrection, Donald Trump called his supporters into action by stating that the 2020 election had been “stolen by emboldened radical-left Democrats” and to demand that then Vice-President Mike Pence and Congress reject Biden’s victory. Starting at noon at a “Save America” rally on the Ellipse, Trump repeated his lies on election irregularities and stated “If you don’t fight like hell, you’re not going to have a country anymore.” During his speech as Congress began the vote count, more than 2,000 people broke into the building, occupying, vandalizing, and looting it, assaulting reporters and Capitol Police officers, and attempting to locate lawmakers with intent to capture and harm. West of the Capitol, insurrectionists erected a gallows where they chanted, “Hang Mike Pence” after he rejected Trump’s and others lies that he could overturn the election results. Rioters looted and vandalized various congressional offices, most notably House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s. With building security breached, Capitol Police evacuated and locked down both chambers and several Capitol Complex buildings. While rioters occupied the empty Senate chamber, federal law enforcement officers defended the evacuated House floor. There were pipe bombs found at both Democratic and Republican National Committee and a Molotov cocktail in a vehicle near the complex. At the White House, Trump resisted sending the National Guard to quell the mob. Later that afternoon in a Twitter video, he reasserted that the election was “fraudulent” but told his supporters to “go in peace.”
Doug Mastriano helped organize bus rides to Washington D.C. for 130 Trump supporters to the rally that would culminate into the insurrection. During the protest, he claimed that he and his wife left the rally area when it turned violent, which he called “unacceptable.” However, a crowdsourced video analysis from May 2021 later identified Mastriano and his wife watching a rioter tear a Capitol Police barricade before passing through it. Thus, contradicting his previous claims that he wasn’t with the rioters. Mastriano said he was following police directions and dismissed the accusations as the work of “angry partisans” who were “foot soldiers of the ruling elite.” The video evidence doesn’t support this. He then went on stating that he was in the “second row, watching the Trump rally,” hoping that Congress would legally stop the election’s certification. “Once I realized all the speaking events were off we left and that’s a darn shame… I was there to cheer on Congress, the House and the Senate, not to disrupt it.” Sure, whatever you say (sarcasm). Still, despite receiving calls to resign from his Democratic colleagues, Mastriano has experienced no negative consequences for his actions. Aside from submitting rented bus receipts and tickets for the 130 who went with him to Washington D.C. for the whole thing to the January 6 Committee nearly a year and a half later.
Now that he’s won the 2022 Republican gubernatorial primary in Pennsylvania, it’s very possible that this guy who tried to undermine democracy in my state and participated in an attempt to overturn the federal government might be the next governor of Pennsylvania. Based on what he’s done to hurt American democracy in both my state and beyond, it’s bad enough that he’s able to keep his job and run for governor in the first place. When Pennsylvania’s General Assembly should’ve expelled him for his role in the insurrection and be faced with criminal charges, like 725 of his fellow seditionists as of June 2022. Possibly serving jail time. It’s equally disgraceful that Doug Mastriano used his actions in trying to overturn the 2020 election and undermine democracy in order to raise his profile so he could run for governor. However, it’s very scary that Pennsylvanian Republicans saw nothing wrong with his candidacy and voted to make him their nominee. Sure, Josh Shapiro ran ads against him beefing his wacko far-right views and Christian nationalism in hopes that Mastriano’s nomination would give him an easy race. But Mastriano was frontrunner before he did this. While Pennsylvania’s Republican Party isn’t too happy that he’s their guy now.
Nonetheless, even though Josh Shapiro thinks he’s in a good place, he needs to know the lessons of the 2016 presidential election. Although Shapiro is in a better position to win against Mastriano than Hillary Clinton was over Donald Trump, he must remember that the nomination of an extremist opponent doesn’t always guarantee one a sure victory. When Trump received the GOP presidential nomination, the RNC wasn’t happy about it. But they eventually got behind him by convention time. I expect the PA GOP to do the same in regard to Mastriano. And like many of my fellow liberals, I thought that many of my fellow Americans would come to their senses and vote for Hillary over Trump, regardless of how unlikeable she was. Unfortunately, I was wrong and heartbreakingly so. Now that I see Mastriano signs go up in people’s yards in my area, I’m reminded of the catastrophe of 2016 and the fucked-up mess those four years of Trump left behind. Because of Mastriano’s election denialism and role in the January 6 insurrection, to elect him as the next governor of Pennsylvania would be a statewide disaster for the next four years. Even worse, given Republican control of the legislature, it’s likely that with Mastriano in the governor’s chair, it’s even more of a possibility that he’ll get a lot of his ideas on the 2020 election passed. Not to mention, be more likely to cooperate with Trump’s team should he run again in 2024. And keep in mind that Pennsylvania is a critical swing state, which helped secure Biden’s victory in 2020. Regardless of your political views, would you want this guy in charge of Pennsylvania in the next presidential election?
Tragically, the worst part about speaking against Doug Mastriano’s nomination for governor of Pennsylvania is that I shouldn’t have to come off as a liberal partisan. Although I don’t deny myself as a bleeding-heart liberal, I also strongly think that trying to overturn an election and participating in an attempted coup should be enough to disqualify a candidate from public office. And I shouldn’t have to sound like a partisan hack to get this point across. And it’s not just Mastriano either. Various state legislators all over the country participated in the attack on January 6, 2021. While US Congressmen such as Marjorie Taylor Greene, Mo Brooks, Lauren Boebert, Paul Gosar, Louie Gohmert, and Madison Cawthorn were said to participate in “dozens of briefings” and were involved in efforts to overturn the 2020 election. None of them have been expelled for their actions. While Cawthorn has lost to his primary challenger due to some unrelated incidents, almost all of them are slated to remain in office after this election. Some may even run unopposed. Then there are Senators Ted Cruz and Josh Hawley who were all too happy to repeat the Big Lie more than their colleagues. Hawley even made a fist showing his support for the rioters. Neither one has yet to face any consequences. To have these people still in power after they dishonored their sacred oaths to the Constitution is absolutely sickening. If we want to prevent another January 6, we need to hold the political figures involved accountable for their actions regarding the riot itself and the events leading up to it. To let them keep their seats or seek a higher office is nothing worse than dishonorable to our democracy.
Since Donald Trump’s presidential candidacy began in 2015, the Republican Party has shown itself to be significantly less invested in the preserving the democratic process. Especially if that process doesn’t give them the results they like in order to preserve their power. Now I’m not going to say this about every Republican. However, reports about red states using REDMAP gerrymandering, passing voter suppression laws, and enacting anti-protest measures show that this is a systemic problem within the party. Even worse, the Republican Party seems to have no interest in holding its own members accountable for their actions regarding January 6. In fact, since January 6, the Republican Party establishment still remains firmly behind Trump as its leader to this day, which deeply disgusts me on so many levels. As of June 2022, to my knowledge, no politician has faced any consequences for helping to incite or participating in the attack on the US Capitol. When Donald Trump was impeached for inciting the insurrection on January 6, he evaded consequences because almost every GOP US Senator voted to acquit him despite obvious evidence that he was responsible. When the measure to create a 9/11-style Commission for the January 6 insurrection, Republicans blocked it. When the January 6 Committee formed, only Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger are the only Republicans on it. Mainly because both put their country over their party when it mattered. While right-wing media outlets either try to spin the incident for something other than what it was or try to pretend that it never happened. Despite the fact that Fox News hosts like Tucker Carlson and Sean Hannity were responsible for encouraging the violence. Still, the fact one major political party has been resisted efforts to bring justice for January 6 should really distress anyone who believes in the sanctity of American democracy. Is anyone surprised why Fox News refused air the January 6 hearings on prime time while going commercial free?
Things get worse in the state houses. In Pennsylvania, The Penn-Capital Star reported that 40 of its Republican state legislators are part of far-right Facebook groups. I suppose Doug Mastriano is one of these guys, given that he’s a far-right Christian Nationalist. Nationwide, it’s 1 out of 5. These far-right groups range from white supremacists, QAnon, Covid 19 conspiracy theorists, and others promoting Donald Trump’s Big Lie. Across the country many of these far-right legislators have been at the forefront of pushing anti-democracy and anti-human rights bills. These includes measures like attacks on women’s reproductive rights, attacks on immigrant rights, attacks on LGBTQ+ rights, “Don’t Say Gay” bills, CRT bans, anti-protest bills, and the ever classic, voter suppression. The rate of sponsorship on these bills among this group of right-wing nutjobs was particularly high. In Idaho, Amon Bundy’s running to become the state’s governor. For those who remember my post about how the media covers terrorism, I basically have him as the epitome of white privilege in regards of covering terror. I mean this guy and his pals stage an armed takeover of an Oregon wildlife refuge for 3 weeks and face no long term consequences. He also served time in prison for an unrelated incident. Nonetheless, the last thing we should do with anyone who’s involved in treasonous activities is to let them run for office. But somehow, as long as they’re able to remain in power and pass their measures that will make life in the US a draconian hellscape for the rest of us, Republicans don’t seem to care.
Regardless of office, when an elected official begins their term, they always swear to uphold the US Constitution. But when an elected official helps incite or participates in an insurrection attempting to overthrow the federal government they swear to protect, they break that oath and betray the American people’s trust placed on them. I don’t care if it was over an election where their candidate didn’t win. Nonetheless, the attack on the US Capitol of January 6 should’ve united the American people like 9/11 or Pearl Harbor. Let us not forget that this was a terrorist attack on a major national symbol of the US government as well as an attempted coup. Even though Donald Trump was obviously behind it all from the start, his supporters should’ve been able to turn their backs to him and anyone else involved in the insurrection. Both parties should’ve gotten behind investigating the insurrection. Both parties should’ve backed prosecuting anyone responsible for what happened that fateful day. The fact that all of this didn’t is a national tragedy. Because if a politician is behind staging a coup, it shouldn’t matter whether you like them, whether you voted for them, or whether you agree with them on certain issues. The fact Trump was behind inciting the January 6 insurrection should be enough to denounce him. Same goes for any other politician involved, even if within your own political party. Because any politician involved in encouraging or participating in the attack should be removed from office and face criminal charges. The fact none of them is a great stain on our democracy. Make no mistake, those involved in the January 6 insurrection weren’t taking their country back. They were staging a coup to overthrow the federal government. The fact that our country has to be divided over investigating the whole incident is a national disgrace.
That Doug Mastriano is able to run for governor of my state instead of facing legislative expulsion and criminal charges shows how short we’ve fallen as a country to hold people like him accountable for their actions on that horrible day. Especially because Donald Trump continues to be the GOP’s undisputed leader and the party wants to quickly move past it so you won’t see the blood on his hands. Mitt Romney, Adam Kinzinger, and Liz Cheney shouldn’t be heroes for putting their country over their party but somehow, they are. While their colleagues in the House and Senate who are responsible for encouraging the attack remain unpunished thanks to the Republican Party’s protection. Same goes for all the state legislators and elected officials who participated in the January 6 insurrection, including Mastriano. That Mastriano can seek higher office after committing treason is a national disgrace that no good Pennsylvanian should tolerate. As he has absolutely no business in leading Pennsylvania if he’s willing to overthrow the federal government over unfavorable election results. Because no politician should be willing to do that. And who knows the damage he might inflict on the state once he’s in the governor’s chair? In the name of our country and what it stands for, please don’t cast a vote for Doug Mastriano or any other politician associated with January 6.