I get tired of writing variations of the same article, but some problems just won’t go away. Some moral questions persist and just become more urgent. I understand that politics is an exercise in coalition building, and often it’s necessary to attract voters who don’t really share your core values. A country club Yankee Republican doesn’t have much in common with a North Carolina pig farmer but the GOP has traditionally needed them both in the fold. Democrats have their own version of uneasy alliances and, in parliamentary systems, it’s common for very distinct parties to make common cause to form a governing majority.
But there’s always a line that can’t be crossed. There’s a party so abhorrent that you’d never make an alliance with them, or extremists that you’d never welcome or tolerate within your own party. And, as an individual, there are directions your party might go where you just couldn’t follow. Not so, however, for the establish Republican Party in Pennsylvania. They did not want Doug Mastriano to be their gubernatorial candidate for both principled and pragmatic reasons, but they’ve now made their peace with him and are actively helping him get elected.
Andy Reilly, the state’s Republican national committeeman, had joined a stop-Mastriano effort by rival candidates, who feared that the far-right state senator and prolific spreader of election conspiracy theories would squander an otherwise winnable race.
Yet on a warm evening last month, Mr. Reilly opened his suburban Philadelphia home for a backyard fund-raiser for Mr. Mastriano, who won his primary in May. Guests chipped in $150 for ribs and pulled pork and listened to Mr. Mastriano, fresh from an uproar over his presence on Gab, a social media site that is a haven for hate speech.
There’s an opinion piece in Friday’s Pittsburgh Post-Gazette written by Mir Rabinowitz, the “widow of one of the 11 worshippers massacred during the attack at the Tree of Life synagogue on Oct. 27, 2018. ” Here’s what she has to say about Mastriano and Gab.
Just hours before the carnage at my synagogue began, the Tree of Life attacker posted “screw your optics, I’m going in” on Gab, a social media platform that is a haven for white supremacists, extremists and antisemites.
The shooter was a prominent and verified user of Gab, consistently posting neo-Nazi propaganda and repeatedly calling for violence against Jewish people. He referred to the Jewish people as the “children of Satan.”
These words of hate quickly turned into the deadliest attack on Jewish people in U.S. history — and Gab played a key role.
When it was revealed that the GOP gubernatorial candidate, Doug Mastriano, paid thousands of dollars in “consulting fees” to Gab, I was shocked and disgusted. However, when it was revealed that this money was actually being used to recruit extremists and antisemites to his campaign, I knew I had to speak out.
What does Andy Reilly think about this?
Mr. Reilly later defended Mr. Mastriano as the better choice to lead Pennsylvania over his Democratic opponent, Josh Shapiro. “The question is can Doug Mastriano keep the Republican Party base and all the factions together?” Mr. Reilly said.
It’s true that the Republicans need “all the factions” united if they want to win a statewide election in Pennsylvania. And the more country club Republicans they lose through their extremism, the more white nationalists and antisemites they need to make up the gap.
Mr. Mastriano, the sponsor in the State Legislature of a six-week abortion ban with no exceptions, has appeared to modulate that position lately, saying lawmakers will write whatever bill they choose and “my personal views are irrelevant.”
But there are few signs that he has broadened his appeal to independent and swing voters, especially in the suburbs, who have played a pivotal role in recent Pennsylvania elections. He was supported by 82 percent of Republicans in a Fox News poll in late July, but independents preferred Mr. Shapiro by 28 points.
It’s true here in the Keystone State, and it’s true nationally and for aspiring GOP presidential candidates.
On Friday, Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida plans to headline a rally with Mr. Mastriano in Pittsburgh, a bearhug from one of the party’s most popular national figures.
Still, 82 percent support from Republicans is not a good number for a Republican candidate, which helps explain why Mastriano is behind in the polls. But if it’s not a winning number, it’s also an overwhelming one for any GOP committeeman or woman who wants to take a contrary view. This is how the establishment is brought in line behind a fascist movement. They aren’t willing to lose their positions of influence or even to take the slings and arrows it requires to stand on principle. So they wind up becoming leaders in a hate movement based on white supremacy, antisemitism, religious chauvinism and totalitarianism.
Some convince themselves that if they walk away, they’ll just be replaced by a Gauleiter, which is true. But, by staying and working to promote this party and its candidates, they become Gauleiters themselves, functioning as regional leaders of a fascist party.
They need to stop what they’re doing. They need to get their moral bearings. They aren’t just a parent whose political beliefs you can ignore while you watch your kids play soccer together anymore, but true enemies of the country and the Constitution who are empowering the most violent, hateful and divisive elements of our society. They probably don’t realize that they chose this because they didn’t ever wish for it. But that’s where they’ve found themselves, slinging $150 plates of pulled pork and ribs for a modern day Nazi.