This article has been published as opinion, but pretending that it’s not a fact that MAGA is not a reasonable political movement is becoming exhausting…if not dangerous.
In the wake of the FBI raid of Donald Trump’s Mar-A-Lago property, where he was holding classified documents allegedly stolen from the White House, MAGA opponents are feeling vindicated, yet, Trump’s supporters are unfazed, if not doubling down on their support.
Earlier this month, President Joe Biden gave an impassioned speech outside Independence Hall in Philadelphia warning of the threat MAGA poses to American democracy. Predictably, MAGA supporters, who have been flying “Let’s Go Brandon” flags (or worse) for two years, feigned outrage over the “divisiveness” of Biden’s speech.
To MAGA, everything they don’t agree with, politically or otherwise, is a hoax, “fake news” or a “witch hunt.” MAGA even treats something as simple as election results as a matter of debate (unless they win, of course) — not just the 2020 presidential election, but even following (or during) local elections and state-level primaries. Trumpist candidates cry foul without producing any credible evidence to back up their accusations – including Kari Lake, who at first claimed fraud as the results were rolling in during Arizona’s recent gubernatorial primary, which Lake ended up winning – quieting her election-integrity concerns.
Enter Doug Mastriano, a far-right extremist, propagator of the Big Lie (that Trump won the 2020 election), current Pennsylvania state senator and Trump-endorsed (of course) Republican candidate for governor.
Mastriano is running against Democrat Josh Shapiro, Pennsylvania attorney general and standard center-left political candidate. Shapiro’s campaign has focused largely on the dangers that his opponent presents, frequently tweeting reasons why Pennsylvania voters should do everything in their power to keep Mastriano out of office:
“Doug Mastriano wants to ban abortion in Pennsylvania — and our Republican Legislature is determined to help him.”
“Doug Mastriano doesn’t support marriage equality. He says it’s ‘untraditional’ and against the Bible. He doesn’t believe LGBTQ+ couples should be allowed to adopt because ‘it’s madness.’ He supports conversion therapy for kids because ‘they’re confused.’”
“Doug Mastriano would handpick a Secretary of State who’ll decertify our elections with the stroke of a pen. He wants to kick every voter off the registration rolls in Pennsylvania — all 9 million of us. He said it himself.”
The problem is that these are not extreme views in the eyes of MAGA, but the movement’s core tenets. MAGA Republicans do not deny ownership of these discriminatory and anti-democratic ideas, they celebrate it and insist all who oppose are the actual radicals, like Trump frequently referring to Biden as “radical left.” Following suit, Mastriano has accused Shapiro of espousing “radical ideologies and policies that hurt our state and country.”
Anyone with any inkling of the breadth of the political spectrum understands calling Biden or Shapiro radical in either direction is a blatant fallacy, but that doesn’t stop MAGA politicians from making the claim and MAGA supporters from believing it to be true, or at least claiming they do.
In obvious reality, Trump and Mastriano are the extreme politicians. The Jan 6 Committee has exposed Trump’s role in inciting a coordinated attack on the U.S. Capitol, which Doug Mastriano, not only attended, but spent thousands of dollars from his campaign budget to transport other MAGA supporters to the event that culminated in unprecedented violence. Mastriano also joined MAGA rioters in crossing police lines at the Capitol.
Furthermore, Shapiro has gained considerable and notable Republican support, likely due a combination of his moderate politics and Mastriano’s extreme liabilities, such as his personal and financial connections to white supremacists via Gab, a far-right social media platform. More Republicans have gravitated toward Shapiro after a photo of Mastriano (voluntarily) dressed in a Confederate soldier uniform surfaced.
Does Doug Mastriano have any Democratic support to speak of? Of course not, he’s a Big Lie promoting, Jan 6 rioting, (at best) racially insensitive, outspoken far-right threat to democracy, who has promised to strip any rights that go against his own extreme and discriminatory ideologies.
Republicans and Democrats will disagree about almost everything until the end of time, but to preserve democracy, voters in Pennsylvania, and across the U.S., must join forces in taking a stand against dangerous political extremism (actual extremism, by definition, not just empty words) presented by the likes of Mastriano, Trump and his MAGA movement.
A jarring, yellow anti-Shapiro billboard on Route 22 outside of Bethlehem reads, “Like violent crime? You’ll love Josh Shapiro.” This is preposterous. If you asked Shapiro if he supports violent crime, he would respond with something like, “No, of course not. What a stupid question.”
But if you asked Mastriano if he is against abortion rights and marriage equality, he would confirm that yes, he is against those things. If you asked Mastriano if climate change is real he would say, “It is not … It’s fake science. And it’s a racket at the academic level,” as he told WEEO News Talk during a 2018 interview.
If you asked Mastriano how he feels about DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) recipients, or Dreamers, he would tell you they are “illegal and they shouldn’t be here” and “they need to go back home” – Mastriano’s actual quotes from the same interview, as reported by Rolling Stone.
Mastriano wears his extremity on his sleeve. The poet Maya Angelou said: “When people show you who they are, believe them the first time.”
The 2022 U.S. midterm elections will be held on Tuesday, Nov. 8. The deadline to register to vote in Pennsylvania is Oct. 24; and Oct. 18 in New Jersey. In both states, absentee ballot requests must be submitted by Nov. 1.
Be sure to check your voter registration status to confirm your eligibility to vote. Confirm polling place location and hours before Election Day.