By Carter Hanson, President of College Democrats
On Oct. 28, a man broke into House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s San Francisco home at 2 a.m. in search of the Speaker and was confronted by Pelosi’s husband, Paul, as she was in DC at the time. The intruder told Mr. Pelosi that he intended to kidnap Speaker Pelosi, break her kneecaps, and take her hostage. When Mr. Pelosi asked why, the intruder responded, “Well, she’s No. 2 in line for the presidency, right? […] We’ve got to take them all out.” When the police finally arrived, the intruder struck Mr. Pelosi on the head with a hammer, knocking him unconscious as blood pooled around his head.
Last Saturday, a day after the attack, the New York Times ran a short article about the assault on the front page, under the fold. The next day, the story was not mentioned on the front page, instead being buried inside the paper.
Republicans, meanwhile, immediately began to spin to their advantage the violent attack on the spouse of the third most powerful American, second in line for the U.S. presidency. At a campaign rally, Glenn Youngkin, the Republican governor of Virginia, said “we’re going to send her [Nancy Pelosi] back to be with him in California.” Donald Trump Jr. posted a picture of a hammer and a pair of underwear to Instagram with the caption “Got my Paul Pelosi Halloween costume ready.” Kari Lake, Republican candidate for governor of Arizona, and Representative Clay Higgins also mocked the attack on Paul Pelosi, and the response from the bulk of the Republican establishment has been total silence.
Like Jan. 6, the attempted kidnapping of Speaker Pelosi is a turning point. It’s significant because it’s being ignored—by the media, by the people, by the parties. In this unprecedented time of political violence, election denial, and authoritarianism—in which the U.S. Capitol has been raided by a right-wing, white nationalist mob to halt the Constitutionally-mandated electoral process of the most powerful nation on earth, in which 6 out of 10 Americans have someone on their ballot who believes the “Big Lie” that Trump won the 2020 Presidential Election, in which the Republican Party can react with complete cruelty and sadistic glee to an attack on the House Speaker’s husband—we have become so cynical, illiberal, and ambivalent to the dire warning signs of an endangered republic that only 4 percent of Americans believe that the most important problem the United States faces today is democracy.
On Wednesday, in a speech in Washington’s Union Station, President Biden said, “As I stand here today, there are candidates running for every level of office in America—for governor, Congress, attorney general, secretary of state—who won’t commit, that will not commit to accepting the results of the election that they’re running in. This is a path to chaos in America. It’s unprecedented. It’s unlawful, and it’s un-American.”
Gettysburg’s Representative in the Pennsylvania State House—your representative—is Republican Dan Moul, and he is one of those election-denying candidates, who has repeatedly cast doubt on the validity of the 2020 Presidential Election.
“Can I say that the election was won by Donald Trump or was it won by Joe Biden? Who’s ever going to know?” said Moul at the State House debate hosted at Mara Auditorium on Oct. 19. “Until someone comes up with ironclad proof, this is the way it is.”
To justify his doubt, Moul claims that ballot drop boxes are illegal (they’re not) and that Democrats stuffed them with illegal ballots in the middle of the night (they didn’t).
“I see […] government footage of people going up to drop boxes—which, by the way, are totally illegal: they will be found nowhere in our election code,” said Moul at the State House Debate. “I challenge anybody to find a drop box written in our election code in the Constitution… They are not legal, and we have government footage [from] cameras that are mounted on government buildings with people walking up to drop boxes at 3 [or] 4 o’clock in the morning with handfuls of ballots to stuff them in.”
Of course, these accusations are groundless, absurd, and plainly false. Republican claims of election fraud have been thoroughly debunked since 2020: according to the nonprofit Brennan Center for Justice, “fraud is very rare, voter impersonation is virtually nonexistent, and many instances of the alleged fraud are, in fact, mistakes by voters or administrators.” The Brennan Center also found this to be true for all ballots, including Election Day, early in-person, and mail-in ballots.
None of this has stopped Republicans from fielding candidates who continue to lie about the 2020 Election and seek to undermine our fundamental democratic institutions. Moul is joined by Mehmet Oz and Doug Mastriano to form the Republican slate of candidates in Pennsylvania. Mastriano, Gettysburg’s (and your) current State Senator and the Republican candidate for governor, not only believes the “Big Lie,” but he also drove to DC on January 6th, 2021 to actively participate in the Capitol Insurrection. Oz, who is the Republican candidate for Senate, has been a little more subtle in his election denial than Mastriano, but his is no less destructive and malicious: he has “raised questions” about the election and has said that he needs “lots more information” to determine who won in 2020.
Electing candidates like Moul, Oz, and Mastriano would be disastrous for our democratic systemic. Advocating for election conspiracy theories is actively harmful to our society; it violates the most essential principles of democracy that make us American. We have to protect the vote because the vote is our voice. The vote has only been achieved by the blood of so many thousands of Americans, and they fought for it because the vote is everything. The vote is climate justice, the right to choose, gun violence prevention, LGBTQ+ rights, criminal justice reform, health care, and the economy. It is representation, tradition, and liberty. The vote is the opposite of political violence. The vote is the opposite of the Republican party.
So, please vote on Tuesday, Nov. 8! For those registered to vote here in Gettysburg, your polling place will be the CUB Ballroom. It will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m., and all you need to bring is your student ID. If you are voting in your home state or in a different part of Pennsylvania, please do so as well! Your vote is so, so important, regardless of where you’re voting, so do everything you can to make sure your voice is heard. Ditch class, change those lunch plans, skip choir or baseball practice—do whatever it takes to get yourself and your friends to the polls.
Everything is on the line on Tuesday, Election Day, and we have the privilege and deep responsibility as residents of a swing state to cast our ballots to steer the country in the right direction, away from the authoritarian right and toward a more equitable, just, and democratic future. Every election is existential for the marginalized. It is existential for the poor, for women, for racial and sexual minorities, and for all Americans who Republicans want to disenfranchise and deprive of their Constitutionally-protected rights.
When we vote, we are expressing our humanity. We express our compassion. I believe that we are still capable of compassion and that Americans are loving people, no matter how much the far-right wants us to hate each other. So, on Nov. 8, cast your ballot not for yourself, but for those who cannot vote, whose voices have been silenced by Republican laws in Arizona depriving Native American communities of ballot drop boxes, or in Missouri preventing college students from using student IDs to vote.
Here in Pennsylvania, the Republican legislature has attempted to make mail-in voting illegal and to raise the voting age to 21—these bills will become law unless Josh Shapiro is elected governor on Nov. 8. We have the power on Tuesday not only to prevent Mastriano and the Republican party from limiting the franchise but, moreover, to positively expand access to the ballot box for all Pennsylvanians and all Americans.
Now is the time to set aside partisan grievances, apathy, and division to unite in support of democracy. Josh Shapiro, John Fetterman, and Marty Qually—your Democratic candidates for governor, senator, and state representative—will fight for voting rights. Shapiro, Fetterman, and Qually will fight for you.