Said Desiderius Erasmus, “In the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king.”
In today’s Republican Party, even the slightest bit of political courage and fidelity to truth and the rule of law are noteworthy, even praiseworthy, because, yes, everything is relative.
When asked by The Dispatch about the GOP nominee for Pennsylvania Governor — notorious election-denier and so-called “Christian nationalist” Doug Mastriano — Senator Patrick Toomey said, “I don’t have anything to say about [him].”
Likewise, as per the account by WHYY:
“All but one of Pennsylvania’s Republican congressional members are endorsing their party’s candidate for governor, state Sen. Doug Mastriano. The outlier is Brian Fitzpatrick, who represents the 1st Congressional District in the Philadelphia suburbs, covering Bucks County and part of Montgomery County…
“Fitzpatrick chalked the lack of an endorsement up to a scheduling conflict. Campaign spokeswoman Nancy McCarty said the representative was ‘attending an intelligence meeting’ while the other members of the GOP delegation met with Mastriano, and that Fitzpatrick had sent a staffer in his stead.
“‘Rep. Fitzpatrick has yet to meet and/or speak with Sen. Mastriano regarding his plan for Pennsylvania, but hopes to have the chance to do so prior to the Fall elections,’ she said in a written statement.”
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So the contorted, no comment, non-endorsements of Doug Mastriano for Pennsylvania Governor by Senator Patrick Toomey and Congressman Brian Fitzpatrick are better than the more craven alternative.
But what about a simpler standard from which to judge the conduct of elected officials — a non-relativistic idea called right and wrong?
In her closing statement to the Wyoming GOP and then in her forward-looking concession speech, Liz Cheney invoked our nation’s greatest statesman, Abraham Lincoln, with his Gettysburg call to “be here dedicated to the ‘great task’ remaining before us.”
Lincoln spoke of “these honored dead” who had given “the last full measure of devotion.” By contrast, Toomey and Fitzpatrick understand Mastriano’s threat to American democracy and to the foundational principles of liberalism gifted to humanity in Pennsylvania, the place they are sworn to represent. Yet they offer, at best, a half measure of devotion.
I’d like to ask the Senator and the Congressman, and obviously all the others whose ambition (or Lord knows what else) have led them to be, whether by full-throated support or unwillingness to full-throatedly denounce, enablers of the authoritarian cancer on America’s vital organs, to please reread an earlier address by Lincoln.
This one, made when he was only 28, reads in most urgently relevant part:
“We [Americans] find ourselves in the peaceful possession, of the fairest portion of the earth, as regards extent of territory, fertility of soil, and salubrity of climate. We find ourselves under the government of a system of political institutions, conducing more essentially to the ends of civil and religious liberty, than any of which the history of former times tells us.
“We, when mounting the stage of existence, found ourselves the legal inheritors of these fundamental blessings. We toiled not in the acquirement or establishment of them — they are a legacy bequeathed us, by a once hardy, brave, and patriotic, but now lamented and departed race of ancestors. Theirs was the task (and nobly they performed it) to possess themselves, and through themselves, us, of this goodly land; and to uprear upon its hills and its valleys, a political edifice of liberty and equal rights; ’tis ours only, to transmit these, the former, unprofaned by the foot of an invader; the latter, undecayed by the lapse of time and untorn by usurpation, to the latest generation that fate shall permit the world to know. This task of gratitude to our fathers, justice to ourselves, duty to posterity, and love for our species in general, all imperatively require us faithfully to perform.
“How then shall we perform it? At what point shall we expect the approach of danger?…
“I answer, if it ever reach us, it must spring up amongst us. It cannot come from abroad. If destruction be our lot, we must ourselves be its author and finisher. As a nation of freemen, we must live through all time, or die by suicide.
“I hope I am over wary; but if I am not, there is, even now, something of ill-omen, amongst us. I mean the increasing disregard for law which pervades the country…”
So it was then and so it is now. We need much more than half measures.
Craig Snyder is CEO of Indigo Global Corporation and currently serving as Political Director of Republicans4Shapiro.com