Discover more from The Lewsletter
A Pre-Midterm Message for Pennsylvanians
Please vote for John Fetterman and Josh Shapiro on Tuesday
If you’re reading this, odds are you don’t need me to remind you to vote in next week’s midterm elections. You’ve probably already made up your mind about whom you’re voting for, and you may not live in Pennsylvania anyway. But just in case this message reaches an impressionable citizen here in the Keystone State: Please vote for John Fetterman for Senate and Josh Shapiro for Governor on Tuesday.
Regular readers will know that I have plenty of bones to pick with the Democratic Party. About Joe Biden’s lack of leadership on abortion, callousness about COVID, and disinterest in accountability; about the party’s roles in enabling anti-Semitism, allowing individual choice to supersede public health, and failing to prevent Roe’s reversal; about how even once in office Democrats are more focused on what they can’t do than what they can. The fundamental fissure for much of my generation is the belief that a politician should be judged by how well they use their power to help people, not just how bad the other side is. Merely being less odious than the Republicans should not be the end goal of politics.
Yet as insufficient as it may be as an ultimate guiding principle, the difference between Democratic and GOP governance is particularly stark here in Pennsylvania. So we have some choices to make on Tuesday that are both easy and important.
Attorney General Josh Shapiro is running for Governor against State Senator Doug Mastriano. Mastriano is one of the most-terrifying figures in American politics, as he sees himself as a leader in a literal holy war. He believes people who get abortions should be charged with murder, has trafficked in explicit anti-Semitism, and personally organized bus trips to the January 6 Capitol riots. And Mastriano would be a problem for more than just Pennsylvanians: The Pennsylvania Secretary of State is appointed directly by the Governor and has oversight over state elections. So if a man who believes that state leadership has the power to overturn Presidential election results moves into the Governor’s Mansion, you can already color this purple state red for 2024.
As but one of 100 members of the U.S. Senate, Fetterman may not have the same direct impact on Pennsylvanians’ lives as Shapiro (or Mastriano) would.1 Yet in replacing incumbent Pat Toomey, he would flip a crucial seat in what’s projected to remain a very closely divided Senate. Optimistically, Fetterman could be the 52nd vote that Democrats need to eliminate the filibuster and pass legislation that would otherwise be blocked by Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema; in a worse (though decidedly not worst) case, he may be the 50th seat to preserve the current deadlock that lets Vice President Kamala Harris cast tiebreaking vote. Suffice to say that him beating Dr. Mehmet Oz — a literal-puppy-killing snake-oil salesman who doesn’t even live in Pennsylvania and would be as embarrassing of a representative of our state as he would be politically reprehensible — could be the key to passing any remaining shreds of Biden’s policy agenda.
This is not to say that the Democratic candidates are without their flaws. Fetterman has repeatedly flip-flopped on (and now says he supports) the environmentally destructive practice of fracking. His willingness to scrap the filibuster does not extend to expanding the Supreme Court. He also once pulled a gun on a Black constituent in a grotesque racial-profiling incident and has refused to apologize for it. Meanwhile, everything above about the risk that Mastriano poses to the state and the country can be laid at Shapiro’s feet: In an astounding act of hubris that directly recalls Hillary Clinton maneuvering to help Donald Trump win the nomination because she wrongly believed she could beat him, Shapiro meddled in the GOP primary to help Mastriano advance to the general election on the perilous assumption that the most-dangerous candidate in the field would also be the weakest. In any other circumstance, demonstrating such reckless disregard for the potential consequences if his plan failed should be disqualifying for a public servant, though at this point Dr. Frankenstein is the only alternative to the monster he created. We should not dismiss or forget any of this just because Fetterman and Shapiro have Ds next to their names. But there are more important things to consider on Tuesday.
A few days from now, Pennsylvanians could wake up to find a Christian nationalist on his way to the Governor’s Mansion and a New Jerseyan en route to represent us on Capitol Hill. Please do your part to make sure that doesn’t happen!
Thanks for reading The Lewsletter! If you enjoyed reading this, subscribe for free to receive new posts as soon as they’re available.
In one of the most richly layered examples of bad-faith bullshit in American politics this year, Oz has consistently implied otherwise with his efforts to make the race a referendum on local safety issues — as though the Office of the Junior Senator from Pennsylvania has the power to stop crime in the commonwealth. The kicker is that this seat is currently held by a Republican. So even Oz’ own line of attack is ultimately a reason to vote for Fetterman!