Too Extreme for PA: Doug Mastriano’s Election and Climate Denial

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In the coming days, voting ballots will be mailed in, and physical polling stations will open on November 8. Though I could talk for hours about the importance of this election and why you should genuinely consider who you are voting for, I will mainly focus on the shortcomings of gubernatorial candidate Doug Mastriano. 

Mastriano was endorsed by former president Donald Trump and similarly spent his campaign claiming the 2020 election was stolen. Mastriano was not only present at the January 6 Insurrection at the Capitol, but he also spent thousands of his campaign dollars to finance charter buses to transport disgruntled voters to the riot. He participated in mob-like behavior, inciting violence against our own legislative system. Despite claims that he was not near the violence, cell phone footage confirmed he was at the scene. 

Also, Mastriano was photographed in a 2013-2014 faculty photograph at the U.S. Army Heritage and Education Center in a Confederate Army uniform, despite every other member being dressed in contemporary outfits. 

Doug Mastriano is so extreme and unfit for the governorship that even his own party members do not support him. The list of Republicans that endorse Democratic candidate Josh Shapiro is rising daily, with the Pennsylvania State Troopers Association choosing to endorse a Democratic gubernatorial candidate, splitting their endorsement.  

Mastriano has even claimed that the ideas of separation of church and state, as outlined in the Constitution, are a “myth.” 

While casting your ballot, remember all the issues that are on the table for the upcoming years. The gubernatorial candidate elected will determine the future of abortion rights for women in Pennsylvania and affect policies regarding climate change, gay marriage, and belief in science. 

Mastriano believes that women who receive an abortion should face charges of murder. However, he is also a firm advocate against gay marriage and same-sex couples adopting children. Despite wanting to remove the right to abortion, he wants to exclude an entire population of Americans from adopting. 

Excluding 416,484 Pennsylvanians from adopting is ridiculous and based on unfounded claims. 4.1% of PA residents are LGBTQ+, and multiple studies have found that same-sex parents do not affect child outcomes; some sources even cite that gay parents raised better socially-developed children. 

Mastriano expresses his radical beliefs through his own website, claiming he will end funding for Planned Parenthood and sign the Heartbeat bill into law. Despite popular thought, abortion advocates and opponents have agreed that abortions only constitute a statistic of approximately 15% to 37% of their services. In addition to abortions, Planned Parenthood provides breast cancer examinations, wellness checks, STD tests, birth control, HIV services, and cervical cancer screenings, especially in low-income areas.

Defunding this program will leave thousands of Pennsylvanians without medical access and proper access to birth control. Unplanned pregnancy statistics are bound to rise. Defunding Planned Parenthood would do the opposite of its intended purpose and would not only remove abortion access but also prevent women from receiving birth control to prevent said pregnancy. 

Mastriano is also a firm denier of science, ranging from disbelief in masks and vaccines to ignorance of climate change. In his newsletter, he claimed, “The science on masking has been disproven and, worse still, studies show the practice harms a child’s social and emotional development.” 

Large-scale studies have proved that masks effectively deter COVID-19, yet Mastrino still spreads baseless statements to his supporters. Administrations from politicians like Mastriano led our country into the dark during the pandemic; 6.5 million deaths from the pandemic should prove that we need stronger leadership that believes in science – not leadership that attempts to disprove it. The U.S. accounts for 1.1 million of these deaths. The COVID-19 pandemic is the biggest mass death event in U.S. history–more deadly than World War II and the Civil War combined. We need politicians that lead in the times of pandemic, not ones that deny the existence of science. 

Mastriano calls for more fracking, claiming, “The blessing of Marcellus Shale in Pennsylvania is still underutilized with untapped deposits of natural gas.” His opponent, Josh Shapiro, supports a platform of responsible fracking, while Mastriano calls for extremist reforms such as lifting the Wolf administration’s ban on leases in state parks and forests and exempting Pennsylvania’s coal industry from federal regulations. 

When asked if climate change was real, Mastriano simply responded: “It is not. It’s fake science.” 

Pennsylvania is already one of the largest fossil fuel producers in the U.S. Without responsible leadership from politicians such as Shapiro, Pennsylvania will continue to pollute local resources to the point of irreparable damage. 

When casting your vote in the coming election, be sure to investigate the politicians you consider and the issues they stand for. Issues like abortion and climate change cannot afford to wait for the next gubernatorial race. Remember that the only reason Pennsylvania still has access to safe abortions is due to Governor Wolf’s constant vetoing of pro-life legislation. Without a Democratic governor in office, women may immediately lose the right to safe, legal abortions.

Make a plan to vote. Finish up mailing in those absentee ballots, find a ride to the polling place, and get your ID ready if it is your first time voting. Be prepared and well-informed on candidates, and make your vote count–you can only do it once.