Why you should change your voter registration to Pennsylvania, Part 1: the insanity of Doug Mastriano
Doug Mastriano is a politician who, if elected governor of Pennsylvania, would represent a massive victory for the extreme fringe of the Republican party. Not only would the office give him the power to end abortion access in Pennsylvania and to tip future elections in favor of Republicans, but his victory would signal to other equally radical individuals that their ideas are a viable campaign platform. To put it bluntly, I believe Mastriano is a fascist.
Fascism is a loaded term used by both sides of the aisle to malign their opponent. Like "tyranny," it can be construed into anything you dislike, but fascism has a very specific definition. As briefly as possible: fascism is a political movement that reacts to liberalism and leftism by using xenophobia and machismo to prop up a cult of personality around a single (invariably male) leader who forms an alliance with establishment conservatives to defeat left-wing ideologies; it is syncretic, meaning it blends with existing cultural beliefs and imagery; it progresses in stages, and succeeds depending on how complicit the population is with their rhetoric. Robert Paxton, a political scientist who specializes in fascism, describes it as a "dictatorship against the left amidst popular enthusiasm.” With this in mind, let's look back at Mastriano.
He is personally and feverishly devoted to Donald Trump. He does not believe in the separation of church and state. He stokes fear of transgender acceptance, explicitly opposes gay marriage and the right of same-sex couples to adopt children, and is obsessed with the moral backsliding of American society. His campaign website promises to "restore Pennsylvania to the shining beacon of hope and freedom it once was.”
Let's explore some of his other positions. Mastriano emphasizes the need to prevent illegal immigration, but that's pretty on par with other Republicans. I want to talk about one particular thing he said regarding DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals), a policy which protects children brought to the U.S. without documentation. When asked if he would protect "Dreamers" — the name for those who benefit from this policy — he replied, "What about the American dreamers? What about our own people?" For those who aren't aware, a common dog whistle among white supremacists is the term "Us" and "Our People" (generally capitalized). These come from a slogan known as The Fourteen Words, which states: "We must secure an existence for our people and a future for white children.” I'm not necessarily saying that Mastriano was intentionally using this dog whistle, I'm just saying that he sure seems to be thinking in line with those who do.
Furthermore, it wouldn't be unreasonable to see his campaign as just the next step in this crusade to alter our electoral system. As governor, he claimed that he would utilize the power to "decertify every machine in the state with the … stroke of a pen.” Keep in mind that the state flipped in Biden's favor by a mere 80,555 votes. Given Pennsylvania's place as the political fulcrum of the nation, the party in charge of the state has tremendous power to dictate how elections are run in this state.
If you really want to go off the deep end, you can read up on Julie Green, a woman who spoke at a Mastriano rally and who believes in the QAnon conspiracy as deeply as any human possibly could. She claims — I am truly not exaggerating — that Nancy Pelosi is a literal witch who consumes the blood of children as part of a satanic ritual. "She loves to drink the little children’s blood. By drinking this blood, they believe they will receive a longer life. Yes, a true witch she really is. She was part of sacrificing the children to Baal. She loved murdering for him." Mastriano decided to appear beside a person who sincerely believes this. One of Josh Shapiro's attack ads really did say it best: "The more we learn, the crazier it gets.”
Just when I thought I was done writing about Doug Mastriano, I learned something truly incredible. In April of 2001, he conducted a "research project" while enrolled in the Air Command and Staff College. He speculated that anti-military sentiment will "set the stage for a Hitlerian Putsch, which leaves the military on the sidelines unwilling to save the republic.” Mastriano’s thesis paper centers around a piece of science fiction he wrote from the perspective of a fictional U.S. Army colonel transcribing the events of this Putsch "by flickering candle light in a damp Virginian cave" in the year 2018. (The name of this character is Nathan Greene, which just happens to also be the name of an artist who paints scenes from The Bible and American history, and I refuse to believe that's a coincidence.) I read all 65 pages of this utterly deranged screed so you don't have to. Here are the SparkNotes: in 2012, a group of shadowy political elites faked a military coup to justify enacting policies that curbed military power and weakened military culture. Then in 2018, the U.S. government is overthrown by a demagogue named — I wish I was kidding — Benedict Aurelius, who "abolished the Constitution, dismissed Congress, and compelled the President to resign.” To consolidate his power, Dictator Aurelius then instituted martial law, purged millions, and sent people to reeducation camps to impose "his form of political correctness" on the populace. According to the story, the military was powerless to intervene thanks to decades of political correctness, moral relativism, "aberrant sexual behavior in the ranks," and the dilution of the "macho warrior spirit," all of which had transformed the military into a "neo pagan…docile service institution." The newly formed E.U. and U.N. militaries had replaced the U.S. as the ascendant world power, and gladly funneled funds and troops into the "dismemberment of the U.S." He has a bizarre fixation on moral decay and sexual hedonism, claiming that "the assault started with the insertion of homosexuality into the military," and that "like Rome, domestic moral decay and slothfulness proved to be a more formidable adversary than foreign armies.” It is a rambling, poorly-written mess that confuses ideology with storytelling. He goes on a strange tangent to rant about how a specific, real-life military official is a hypocrite. He makes absolutely insane predictions about how political correctness, sexual anarchy, and alternate religions will turn America into a "morally vacant" society. Recall Robert Paxton, the scholar I quoted earlier. He also describes fascism as "a form of political behavior marked by obsessive preoccupation of community decline, humiliation or victimhood and by compensatory cults of unity, energy and purity." This thesis by Mastriano really amounts to a fascist manifesto.
I'll leave you with my absolute favorite part. According to Mastriano, the 2000 election swung in favor of Bush due to military absentee ballots in Florida. In his fiction, the liberals, enraged by this, make it harder for active duty soldiers to vote by mail, successfully depriving them of their right to vote. This is absolutely hysterical to me. The anti mail-voting policies he once feared would be used to prevent soldiers from voting are the same policies he wants to enact in Pennsylvania. Any justification he gives about the integrity of elections is hypocritical nonsense; Doug knows exactly what he's doing.
Unless your home state swings at least as hard as Pennsylvania, I implore you to please change your registration to the Keystone State. Pennsylvania has once again found itself at the center of American politics, and it is imperative that Doug Mastriano does not win.
If you found this article interesting, next week I'm going to write part 2, where I focus on Dr. Mehmet Oz and his extremely questionable history of hawking dangerous medical supplements on his show.