State Sen. Doug Mastriano, R-Franklin, speaks at a Capitol steps rally in Harrisburg on June 5, 2021. (Capital-Star photo by Stephen Caruso)
By Dan Laughlin
The emerging spectacle of a state senator trying to audit Pennsylvania’s 2020 election absent credible evidence of fraud, isn’t going to change the 2020 outcome and will only further the paranoid atmospherics, poisoning both parties.
I’m a Republican. I believe in my party’s core values: personal liberty, free markets, and economic opportunity. Commonsense conservatism means resisting change for its own sake, avoiding disruption for momentary advantage, and refusing to politicize things that don’t belong in politics.
The current attempt to discredit the 2020 election results runs headlong into an unmistakable truth. While Donald Trump narrowly lost Pennsylvania, the same ballots secured Republican control of the State Senate and House, sent several incumbent Democrats packing, and did so amid record turnout and an expanded voting franchise.
For the first time in 60 years, Pennsylvanians elected Republicans to the post of state treasurer and auditor general and came within reach of ousting a Democratic attorney general. That’s not a sign of a stolen election.
Donald Trump lost Pennsylvania because Donald Trump received fewer votes. Republicans won the state House and Senate because we had a better message.
What message will people take from someone trying to pry open voting machines and rummage through already counted ballots while employing statistical tricks to argue that the 2020 election was a fraud?
Consider the state a handful of my colleagues want to follow.
In Arizona, an outside vendor with a preconceived position was asked to “audit” the ballots and equipment. The only credible result has been an undermined public trust in democracy and a cost of millions of dollars to taxpayers who must now replace voting machines that were decertified because a third-party had tinkered with them.
Americans are bone weary of the posturing by both parties that has made it almost impossible to pass sensible legislation to rebuild our economy, lift unnecessary restrictions on personal liberties, or even do something as obvious as setting a livable minimum wage. These aren’t Republican or Democrat issues. They’re about what works for people.
That’s what government used to do. Leaders like Hugh Scott, Bill Scranton, Tom Ridge and Pat Toomey understood that while politics is how we govern in a democracy, governing demands fair play and square dealing. That means putting aside the culture wars for the practical business of making certain the roads are paved, the schools are funded, and people have good jobs at wages that allow a life of dignity.
The Wolf administration, with its unique brand of cynicism, prefers to stall the kind of election reform that would instill confidence. They know that a so-called “audit” will discredit Republicans and raise funds for liberal candidates. Keep in mind, this is the administration that covered up tens of millions of dollars in overcharges against unemployed people and still won’t explain why, five years after discovering this scandalous situation, they are still trying to keep it quiet.
Do we really need another four years of this kind of governance? Republicans are going to find out if we don’t start to focus on the things we do best – lower taxes, economic growth and expanded personal freedoms.
If two sides want to fight over a year-old election, I advise them to take it outside. We have real work to do in the Capitol.
Dan Laughlin, a Republican, is a state senator from Erie County, and a likely 2022 candidate for governor.
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