The Pennsylvania primary is finally over, meaning voters now have a clear sense of what’s at stake on Election Day.
Doug Mastriano, the Republican nominee for governor, is one of the leading deniers of the indisputable truth that Joe Biden defeated Donald Trump in the 2020 presidential election. The state senator started his campaign by promoting false conspiracy theories that voting machines were hacked by the Chinese government. Mastriano later helped conduct a pseudo-hearing attended by Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani that investigated voter fraud but failed to provide legitimate evidence.
Mastriano stayed in touch with Trump before the former president left office to overturn the 2020 election. Mastriano was at the Capitol on Jan. 6 after saying in advance he would be a speaker at the rally, which sparked a riot. Mastriano’s campaign spent thousands of dollars chartering busloads of Pennsylvania protesters in what turned into a violent, deadly debacle.
» READ MORE: We wanted to assist in the Republican primary this year. We can not. | editorial staff
Video from January 6 appears to show Mastriano and his wife Rebecca among the crowd marching past breached barricades erected by Capitol Police to keep rioters away. While there is no footage of Mastriano entering the Capitol, scores of his fellow protesters called for the hanging of Vice President Mike Pence, threatened to kill House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and looted the Congress Halls, causing millions of dollars in damage.
The attempted coup, spearheaded by Trump and his cronies in a vain attempt to deny the will of the majority of voters in the 2020 election, has shown us that democracy is fragile and not guaranteed. Fortunately, the American system of checks and balances withstood this attack – but only just.
There is no guarantee that democracy will prevail in a similar way after the 2024 presidential election. But this year’s interim results could decide whether the conspirators needed another coup attempt at all.
Mastriano’s election could be the domino that sets off a chain reaction that will affect the 2024 presidential election. He’s on record approve an anti-democratic scheme that allows state legislatures to override election results by choosing their own voters. In a radio interview, he also boasted that if elected governor he could appoint a foreign minister who could overturn an election if Mastriano didn’t like the result. “I could decertify every machine in the state with the stroke of a pen,” he said.
Scores of deniers of the 2020 presidential election results are running for governor, attorney general and secretary of state in a number of key battleground states. If they win, they could cancel elections if their elected candidates lose.
» READ MORE: Doug Mastriano Embodies a Christian Nationalist Movement as He Runs for Governor: ‘We Have the Power of God’
Congressional control is also at stake. If ballots take over both the House and Senate, they could object to the list of electors chosen by a state’s electorate and subsequently void a presidential election. That’s not far-fetched: 147 Republicans in the House of Representatives voted to invalidate Biden’s election in 2020.
With the Senate currently split 50-50, how Pennsylvania votes in November will play a crucial role in determining the future of democracy.
Prominent TV doctor Mehmet Oz, the Republican Senate nominee, has refused to acknowledge that Biden won the 2020 election. Trump endorsed Oz, who in turn expressed support for the 2020 voter fraud conspiracies.
The longtime New Jersey resident has no political experience. He has been widely criticized for touting medical quackery, including endorsing hydroxychloroquine, the antimalarial drug Trump recklessly promoted to treat COVID-19. But he could win.
With all the other Republican candidates trading in lies and bogus voter fraud conspiracies, it’s up to the voters to preserve our democracy.
“It’s up to the voters to preserve our democracy.”
Biden won Pennsylvania by 1.2%, or 80,555 votes. That may sound close, but Trump won Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin by just 0.2, 0.7, and 0.8 percentage points, respectively, in 2016. Essentially, 80,000 voters in these three states elected Trump president.
The difference between democracy and authoritarianism can only depend on a few thousand voters, which is what makes Pennsylvania so important.
Pennsylvania voters in 2020 saved the country from the clear and present dangers that would likely have existed had Trump remained in power. His past praise for Vladimir Putin suggests he might have turned a blind eye or even backed the Russian invasion of Ukraine. His contempt for NATO left him unable to get that League of Nations to become less dependent on Russian oil and gas.
A recent poll found that 64% of Americans believe US democracy is “in crisis and on the brink of failure.” However, the power to change that perception is in their hands.