If there was ever a time when the Republican Party was a reasonable political organization, that time is gone.
In 2016, Donald Trump took control of the Republican Party and, two years after losing his bid for presidential reelection in 2020, he remains the party’s leader, and Republicanism, now the MAGA movement, continues to descend into hateful and violent madness.
“We’re going to end crazy Nancy Pelosi’s political career,” Trump said on stage at a rally in Latrobe, Pennsylvania on Saturday, about a week after an assailant broke into Pelosi’s home and attacked her husband with a hammer. (Paul Pelosi underwent surgery to repair his fractured skull and has been released from the hospital.)
Can you imagine being so callous? Imagine a world in which Trump was capable of condemning the attack, adding something like, “despite our political differences, we must stand united against violence.” That world does not exist – and, if it did, Trump’s followers wouldn’t want to live there.
While several Republican leaders condemned the attack, an alarming number of MAGA Republicans made jokes about it and propagated baseless conspiracies – because that’s what they do.
Remember when Donald Trump lost the 2020 presidential election and then instigated his followers to storm the United States Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021? Well, if you ask Trump or his supporters that question, they might respond by saying the attack was carried out by “Antifa” or “BLM,” a nonsensical claim for which no evidence was ever produced – but it doesn’t matter, not to MAGAs.
MAGAs might even try to argue that the Jan. 6 Capitol riot was nothing more than a normal tourist visit – denying the widespread video evidence of the MAGA-gear-clad mob attacking Capitol police officers with flagpoles and chemical sprays, crushing them against walls and forcing their way into the building.
The 2022 midterm elections are here
So, here we are, the 2022 midterms, the first national election since Trump lost his bid for a second term in the White House. Republicans, especially the MAGA sect, are foaming at the mouth for revenge over the imagined crime that the 2020 presidential election was “stolen,” (a.k.a. the Big Lie) another absurd claim for which no evidence was ever produced.
In Pennsylvania, a battleground state on which control of the U.S. Senate may hinge, Trump-endorsed candidates Doug Mastriano, for governor, and Mehmet Oz, for Senate, are running on a familiar MAGA platform, which includes stripping the right to an abortion, waging war on transgender people and yanking at the loose thread on the sweater of American democracy.
Mastriano, who participated in the Jan. 6 Capitol riot and crossed police lines, says he plans to overhaul the Pennsylvanian election system, by unregistering all voters and making everyone re-register. Election experts say that would be an illegal move, but would that prevent a high-ranking elected official, who was willing to join a Capitol-storming mob, from trying?
In Pennsylvania, the governor appoints the secretary of state, the official responsible for overseeing and certifying the state’s elections. If the 2024 presidential election were to hinge on Pennsylvania, which is not unlikely, a Big Lie conspirator like Mastriano could tilt the balance in an anti-democratic manner, if given the opportunity to appease Trump, who has been signaling a 2024 presidential run.
Oz’s opponent Democrat John Fetterman is recovering from a stroke he had in May. As a result of the stroke, Fetterman has been experiencing auditory processing issues, a condition that was apparent during an October debate. Predictably, Republicans and the MAGA crowd jumped on the chance to use Fetterman’s debate performance to claim he is unfit for office.
However, Republicans’ concern over Fetterman’s speech delivery is disingenuous. The U.S. Senate does not make decisions in 30-second rounds, like the demands of a traditional televised debate – in fact, the Senate is famous for operating on a much slower schedule.
Days before the debate, Fetterman’s primary care physician Clifford Chen reported that his patient is experiencing auditory-processing issues, but noted, “Overall, Lt. Governor Fetterman is well and shows strong commitment to maintaining good fitness and health practices. He has no work restrictions and can work full duty in public office.”
In reality, the most distressing moment of the Fetterman-Oz debate was when Oz declared that decisions regarding abortion should be left to “local political leaders.”
If MAGA prevails in Pennsylvania, that “local political leader” would be Doug Mastriano, who has not only vowed to outlaw abortion, including in cases of rape and incest, but said women who seek an abortion should be charged with murder. The majority of Pennsylvanian’s disagree with this extreme position – and that includes Mastriano’s opponent, Democrat Josh Shapiro, who promises to protect access to abortion.
FiveThirtyEight projects Republicans to win the U.S. House of Representatives, with 84-in-100 odds, and that in Pennsylvania’s 7th District, Republican Lisa Scheller has a 52-in-100 edge over incumbent Democrat Susan Wild, as of Nov. 7.
In utter hypocrisy, Scheller took $5 million in forgiven PPP loans, but then jumped on the trend of blaming her opponent and Democrats for high inflation, claiming that Wild “ignored economists’ warnings and voted for trillions of dollars in new spending.” Scheller, whom Trump endorsed in her failed 2020 campaign, also slammed President Joe Biden’s plan to forgive student loans up to $10,000, although she was willing to accept a sum that eclipses that amount.
Predictably, under the “issues” section on Scheller’s website, she attacks Wild for inflation, yet offers no solutions of her own – that is because MAGA Republicans have no plan. Inflation is convenient for them, because it’s another opportunity to blame their political opponents and to keep their base angry.
That is MAGA: violence, anger, lies and hypocrisy.
On Tuesday, Nov. 8, Pennsylvanians and the American people have the power to defend against this dangerous movement, to stand up for basic rights and to preserve democracy. If voters don’t make the right choice this time, there might not be another opportunity.
To find your polling place in Pennsylvania, visit https://www.pavoterservices.pa.gov/Pages/PollingPlaceInfo.aspx.
Contact the author Chris Devlin: firstname.lastname@example.org