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Is Pennsylvania On The Verge Of Electing The Worst Governor In America?



You might want to check out the DWT Doug Mastriano Library for some context. Short version though: severely mentally disturbed, fascist insurrectionist, state Senator Doug Mastriano wins the Republican Party nomination for governor of Pennsylvania... threatening democracy in Pennsylvania and the rest of the country to boot. You think Ron DeSantis is bad?


Eliza Griswold is something on a Mastriano expert. She's been writing about him, intelligently, for a longer time than most in the media have ever heard of him. This morning, the New Yorker published a new essay of hers, An Insurrectionist Could Be The Next Governor Of Pennsylvania. He could be... but it isn't likely, not even in a Republican wave cycle. In fact, it's more likely that he'll damage the Republican Party ticket, helping to elect John Fetterman to the Senate, Chris Deluzio to the House, shoring up Matt Cartwright and Susan Wild in red-leaning congressional districts, making it tougher for Scott Perry to win reelection and perhaps moving the ultra-gerrymandered state legislature in a bluer direction.


Griswold reminded her readers that Mastriano used campaign funds to send six charter buses to the U.S. Capitol on January 6 and has been subpoenaed by the House select committee investigating the deadly insurrection and coup attempt. "Some of his supporters," she wrote, "are currently facing jail time for their participation in the riot, including Samuel Lazar, who goes by #facepaintblowhard online, and who stormed the barricades and urged others on with a bullhorn, shouting, 'Hang the motherfuckers!' That afternoon, Mastriano was scheduled to address the crowd from the Capitol steps. (Mastriano told viewers during a Facebook Live chat that night that he left after the violence kicked off, but video footage, crowdsourced online, seems to establish his presence there after the rioting began and the Capitol was breached.)"


J. J. Abbott, a Pennsylvania political analyst, told Griswold that he believes "Mastriano is even more dedicated than Trump to overturning elections. 'Unlike Trump, Mastriano really believes what he’s saying,' Abbott said. 'He’s seriously committed to mobilizing and organizing people who share his world view and has been working his whole life on the ability to implement these ideas.' Mastriano continues to exhort his followers, whom he calls his 'army,' to overthrow democratically elected leaders. He has vowed, if elected, to throw out all current voter registrations and to appoint a like-minded secretary of state, who could reverse election results. 'As governor, I get to appoint the secretary of state,' he said recently, on a far-right radio show. 'And I have a voting-reform-minded individual who’s been travelling the nation and knows voting reform extremely well.' He has also threatened to dismantle the mechanics of voting in Pennsylvania. 'With the stroke of a pen, I can decertify every single machine in the state,' he has said. At a recent campaign event, he urged his followers to 'rise up and secure our state.' On Tuesday night, after winning the Republican nomination for governor, he likened his Democratic opponent, Josh Shapiro, the current attorney general of Pennsylvania, to a tyrant, calling his leadership 'an oppressive regime. Not unlike East Germany, where your freedoms are snatched away.'" Mastriano is also a dangerous religious fanatic and Christian nationalist.


Mastriano has allied himself with an effort of the religious right called Project Blitz, which has targeted state legislatures across the United States with a series of bills intended to inject Christian ideals into law and public life. In addition to curtailing abortion rights, the proposed legislation would mandate prayer in public schools and render it illegal for same-sex couples to adopt children. The measures are intended to make America into what adherents see as an ideal Christian nation. “Mastriano wants to replace our representative democracy with a Christian theocracy based on the Book of Leviticus,” Michael Weinstein, of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, an advocacy organization that monitors possible religious bias in the military, told me.
Mastriano has compared himself to Old Testament prophets and the military leaders who commanded the armies of Israel. He laces his speeches with an admixture of conspiracy theory and Biblical allusion. Some scholars have come to describe his blend of American nationalism and religious zeal-- centered on the idea that God intended America to be a Christian nation-- as “Christian nationalism.” (Most alleged adherents deny this label; Mastriano has rejected it by e-mail, writing to me, “Is this a term you fabricated?”) During Trump’s Presidency and its aftermath, beliefs associated with Christian nationalism-- often blended with elements of white nationalism and other lines of thinking that embrace violence-- have become increasingly influential within a newly energized Christian far right.
“Mastriano is peddling industrial-grade Christian nationalism,” Philip Gorski, the co-author of The Flag and the Cross, told me. “It combines so many different elements: QAnon, the Big Lie, and Dominionism”-- an ideology that became popular in the sixties through the work of the widely discredited Christian theorist Rousas John Rushdoony, and which encouraged believers to take over the government and return America to its Christian values. Many who hold Christian-nationalist beliefs take the view that America is rightfully a Christian nation, and any leader who does not align with their beliefs must be illegitimate. Such thinking, scholars have argued, makes it easier to justify overturning an election. “This shift to taking control is really different from the old culture-war style of the Christian right,” Gorski said. (Mastriano has defended his election claims to me in the past, writing, “Is it not appropriate to ask questions and seek answers to ensure each person has a legal vote?”)
The reach of these ideas stretches far beyond Pennsylvania. In political races across the United States this spring, politicians held rallies that melded religion and right-wing politics. “There’s a lot of this at the local and state level,” Gorski told me. He named Cindy Hyde-Smith, a U.S. senator from Mississippi, whose campaign was marked by a mix of election misinformation and religious fervor, along with Wendy Rogers, a state senator from Arizona whose radical platform reflects similar views. In North Carolina, Ted Budd, who won the Republican Senate primary, received Family Research Council Action’s True Blue Award this year for “his unwavering commitment to religious liberty and the rights of the unborn.” Katherine Stewart, the author of The Power Worshippers, told me, “The Family Research Council is one of the Christian-nationalist movement’s leading policy groups.” For proponents of this ideology, gaining control of the government goes beyond elections. “The most important leaders of the political movement are not necessarily the elected ones,” Stewart said. “They include the leaders of the organizations that funnel votes and money to politicians, control the messaging to the public, establish policy objectives, and have commandeered the judiciary.” It would be a mistake to dismiss some of the movement’s most conspiratorial claims as simply outlandish, and therefore irrelevant. “Just because Mitch McConnell doesn’t espouse these ideas doesn’t mean they’re not powerful on a national level,” Gorski said.
It may be hard, he noted, for those in liberal bubbles to appreciate the seductive power of these arguments. A year ago, in mainstream circles, Mastriano’s bid for governor seemed politically impossible. Yet his extreme positions have helped him build a clickbaity political platform, an army of digital soldiers to push it (at one time, he controlled more than seventy different accounts on Facebook, each posting such similar content that the site mistook him for a bot), and a groundswell of real-world support. “His supporters aren’t just a small number of folks from super-red counties, and it would be really, really ill-advised to discount them as kooks,” Ari Mittleman, the host of the “Pennsylvania Kitchen Table Politics” podcast, told me. “These are people we go to the supermarket with, and who stand next to us on the sidelines of kids’ soccer games.”

In his Our Land newsletter this morning, David Corn showed that he's one guy from a liberal bubble who certainly understands the danger of the seductive power of the arguments Griswold presented. He began by asking his readers "how an we convince Americans that the nation is undergoing a democracy crisis that threatens the foundation of our constitutional order?"

He warned that "for most of our fellow citizens, the fact that the United States is edging closer to authoritarian peril doesn’t truly register. Look at Rudy Giuliani, a guy who tried to disenfranchise millions of Americans in order to keep a narcissistic and devious autocrat-wannabe in power, yukking it up on The Masked Singer... Clearly, mainstream America is not alarmed or put off by the malicious schemers trying to rob us of our democratic birthright."

Corn called Mastriano, "an anti-vaxxer... a far-right kook and extremist" and noted that the fact that nearly 600,000 Pennsylvanians voting for one of the nation’s more prominent reality-denying election conspiracists is "another wake-up call... This Trump-endorsed politician has promoted the crazy QAnon conspiracy theory that holds a global band of elites (including Hillary Clinton, of course) are sex-traffickers and baby-eaters who are trying to control the entire world and Trump is engaged in a titanic behind-the-scenes battle to thwart their evil designs. Media Matters discovered that his Twitter account contained numerous tweets promoting QAnon... Imagine if Trump (or any other Republican) loses Pennsylvania in 2024. Mastriano’s handpicked secretary of state could toss out the votes. And there are other devious steps Mastriano and this official could take, including decertifying returns from only certain areas. Like, say, Philadelphia. This one Big Lie-spouting whacko could control 20 Electoral College votes and perhaps determine the outcome of a presidential contest. He has demonstrated the will to do so.


The good news is that Josh Shapiro, the state’s attorney general, won the Democratic gubernatorial nomination, running unopposed, with 1.2 million votes-- far more than Mastriano pulled in. But the total number of votes among the GOP candidates was 1.3 million. The state is evenly divided.
The possible election of a QAnonish extremist who seeks the right to cancel voters ought to scare folks far beyond the state’s borders. If he wins, the craziness that happens in Pennsylvania won’t stay in Pennsylvania. It could well affect the entire nation-- especially if it lands Trump back in office.
Mastriano’s win reflects the alarming reality that about half of Republicans are delusional, Trump cultists, autocracy fans, or all of the above. His primary triumph is a sign that after Trump’s attempted coup and the January 6 riot, the GOP has grown even more extreme. Whether it’s calling for the most restrictive abortion bans (with no exceptions) or recklessly and falsely assailing the first Black woman nominated to the Supreme Court as a friend of pedophiles, the Republican Party these days is operating as if there are no guard rails. And it’s correct. There aren’t any. Neither Trump nor any of the party’s Trump-enabling leaders paid a price for January 6 or the Big Lie. That is certainly what Mastriano has proven. If they can get away with an attempt to grab power and subvert the Constitution, well, why not swing for the fences? Gilead, anyone? Hungary? Turkey?
If Mastriano’s win isn’t a break-glass moment, what is? I realize, we are hip-deep in broken glass. Trump has been shattering norms ever since that damn escalator ride. And there are plenty of other Trump-loving Republicans in office or seeking a position of power who pose threats, as well. But I must hand it to them: they’re not being all that sneaky about it. Mastriano’s views are in the open. He didn’t win despite being a detached-from-reality extremist. He won because of it.

Mastriano chartered 6 buses for Pennsylvania insurrectionists to get to DC to storm the Capitol

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