Pennsylvania’s midterm race is everything that’s wrong with US politics

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WASHINGTON DC – There’s no shortage of things wrong with it WE politics in 2022, and many of them are encapsulated by the Republican gubernatorial candidate in Pennsylvania.

Doug Mastriano is the retired military officer and state senator from Pennsylvania who is running to be its governor in November’s midterm elections. He also vehemently denies the results of the 2020 presidential election and attended the pro-Trump rally in Washington before the Capitol was stormed on January 6, 2021. He reportedly Gab paida far-right social media site known for allowing conspiracy theories and hate speech to spread out, thousands of dollars in consulting fees. He invited Jack Posobiec, the alt-right activist who was accused of working with white supremacists, to speak at one of his “Restore Freedom” campaign rallies. He also attacked his Democratic rival, Josh Shapiro, for sending his children to a private Jewish school.

Recently, when Tulsi Gabbard announced that she was leaving the Democratic Party because it is run by an ‘elitist cabal’, Mastriano posted an image on social media in which an arrow pointed from the phrase ‘elitist cabal’ to a photo of Shapiro with the cast from the tv show The west wingwho were participating in a fundraiser for the Jewish Democrat.

Time and time again, Mastriano has shown us that he is betting his political campaign on conspiratorial, anti-democratic, far-right and anti-Semitic language. Whether he does this because he believes what he says or because he believes it is politically useful is impossible to say. It is also a distinction without difference.

Did the Republicans denounce Mastriano? Did they swear up and down that this is not who they are as a party?

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They do not have. While reports suggest the Republican Governors Association has no intention of throwing its resources behind Mastriano, and although the Republican Jewish Committee has refused to endorse it, the state’s Republican National Committee member organized a fundraiser for him. Donald Trump supported him in the primary. The Governor of Florida, Ron DeSantis, appeared at a rally for him. And while a September poll by Marist gave Shapiro a double-digit lead over Mastriano among likely voters, 85% of Republicans in the state said they support or lean towards Mastriano. Some of these Republicans will support him not in spite of his extremism, but because of him. Others may believe he is better placed to implement the conservative policies they support and are prepared to ignore, for example, the fact that he is an election denier simply because they prefer his tax policies.

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“I’m all for people getting the Republican nomination, and winning, because if we win, we set the agenda, and they [the Republican senators] don’t,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said of this season’s Republican Senate nominees in an interview earlier this month. It doesn’t matter, in other words, how extreme the candidate is. Although McConnell was talking about the Senate, the general point is the same: he wants to win and the quality of the candidate – or whether that person will be able to do the job responsibly – doesn’t matter. Many other members of his party share this approach.

If the head of the poll stays the same, Mastriano will likely lose. This should have made it easier for Republicans to break with him, denounce him, or even simply challenge him. But they didn’t. This tells us less about Mastriano than about the rest of his party.

[See also: The Alex Jones verdict won’t help America’s fake news problem]


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