Editorial: political extremism in Pennsylvania


The courtyard by the east steps of the Capitol building overflows with protesters yelling chants and waving American flags. Those at the front of the line toss aside barricades and initiate standoffs with Capitol police, inching closer to a still-convened Congress. 

Through the chaos, a man concealing his face with a hat and scarf marches with the crowd towards the Capitol steps.

The date is Jan. 6, 2021, and the man is Doug Mastriano, Pennsylvania’s Republican candidate for Governor. 

Quickly rising through the ranks of Pennsylvania Republican leadership since being elected a state senator in 2019, Mastriano has taken a strong conservative stance on every hot-button national issue over the past two years. 

His campaign website outlines a plan to remove all mask and vaccine mandates in the state “on day one,” ban transgender students from school athletics, fully defund Planned Parenthood and sign the Heartbeat Bill into law, which prohibits all abortions once a fetal heartbeat has been detected. The bill doesn’t include any statutory protections for pregnancies as a result of rape or incest or when the mother’s life is endangered.

But those policies, while controversial, are not the reason that Mastriano is the subject of this issue’s editorial.

Mastriano has been the center of multiple political and personal scandals throughout the gubernatorial race, casting himself as a fringe right-wing figure and alienating voters from both sides of the political spectrum.

The state senator has backed many of former President Donald Trump’s claims of widespread voter fraud in the 2020 election and, as previously stated, was present during the Jan. 6 insurrection attempt at the Capitol.

Beyond election denialism, Mastriano has also aligned himself with alt-right conspiracy groups such as Qanon and has spent money campaigning on the hate-speech-laden alternative social media platform Gab

Mastriano was also photographed in 2014 in a confederate uniform for a faculty photo at the Army War College.

Most recently, the Republican candidate has invited the self-proclaimed prophet and Christian Nationalist Lance Wallnau to speak at his campaign rallies. 

These actions are reflective of more than just social conservative values. Mastriano’s embrace of an extreme voter base on the fringes of the ideological spectrum represents an unsettling shift towards increasingly divisive, hateful and dangerous politics in Pennsylvania.

The scariest part is that he’s not alone.

Since the 2016 election, we have witnessed the political capital that can be gained through inflammatory rhetoric and a loose association with the truth. As a result, a sizable chunk of mainstream Republican politicians have turned to these tactics. 

Mastriano is just one of 201 Republican candidates in the midterm elections who have fully denied the legitimacy of the 2020 election despite there being no evidence of widespread fraud.

Additionally, Qanon has been linked to at least 15 Republican politicians running for office in November, garnering millions in donations from GOP leaders.

Over 44 million Americans believe in the core tenets of the Qanon conspiracy theory. It is unclear whether or not these politicians truly believe the outlandish conspiracies that they are promoting. We must not discount the idea that these candidates are simply playing along to give their polling numbers a boost. 

But what’s worse? Having scores of political candidates pretend to believe that the government is run by satan-worshiping pedophiles for political gain, or having scores of politicians that actually believe that.

With that being said, the point of this editorial is not to say, “vote for Democrats because Republicans are scary and dangerous!” 

After all, Republican politics and social values are preferred by half of the country. We aren’t implying that all conservative politicians are conspiracy theorists, nor do we believe they are all extremists.

However, a distinction has to be made.

Political parties are not monoliths. Too many Americans go to the polls and vote for whoever has the letter they prefer next to their name, hardly researching who they are actually supporting.

Mastriano is not dangerous because of his political party. Mastriano is dangerous because the beliefs held by himself and a sizable group of his peers are not compatible with democracy. And it is at this point that we must ask ourselves, are we supporting a candidate, or mindlessly supporting a party? 

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1 Comment

  1. Concerned Conservative on

    Very nicely written if you are trying to start conspiracy theories against the right wing. Now let’s see a real editorial piece on the extremely radical left liberals like Fetterman et al. You may want to consider working for CNN or MSNBC some day.

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