Doug Mastriano Is Crazier Than You Think
Credit: Getty Images
May 22, 2022

Doug Mastriano, the Pennsylvania Republican gubernatorial nominee, did not need Donald Trump to turn him into a paranoid conspiracy theorist. He was there decades ago, a Washington Post report on Mastriano’s 2001 master’s thesis shows.

Mastriano’s thesis, written in 2001 while he was a major at the Air Force’s Air Command and Staff College, warns that recommendations to “depoliticize” the military could lead to the utter collapse of the military and a “civilian putsch” or, taking it up a notch, a “Hitlerian putsch.”

To illustrate this danger, Mastriano’s thesis takes the form of an extended flight of fancy using the fictional voice of a colonel living in the then-future year 2018, hiding out in an “isolated cavern” due to the ascension of a dictator, who, backed by the United Nations and the European Union, ”abolished the Constitution, dismissed Congress and compelled the president to resign. While consolidating power, dictator Aurelius declared martial law and conducted a massive purge. The purge went deep and impacted nearly every family in the nation with millions perishing. Dictator Aurelius‘ form of political correctness was then imposed upon the populace with scores being sent to reeducation camps to adapt their views to his.”

From the fictional vantage point of post-putsch 2018, Mastriano warns that the dissolution of the United States as we know it came after military service members were banned from voting after the 2000 elections (this did not happen, of course) and a broader “assault on the military‘s culture,” including “social experimentation and the imposition of strict policies protecting aberrant sexual behavior in the ranks.”

Mastriano doesn’t dance around his meaning there: “The assault started with the insertion of homosexuality into the military.” But while he claims the undermining of the military happened slowly somehow between his writing in 2001 and his imagined 2018, “The moral underpinnings of the US military were replaced by a neo-pagan worldview, transforming it into a docile social service institution unable to pose any of the imagined threats to the republic.”

A neo-pagan worldview leading to a Hitlerian putsch.

Fast forward 21 years later and the man who wrote this is the Republican gubernatorial nominee for a large state, and he’s basing his candidacy in large part on claims that the last presidential election was stolen by Democrats, after he was on the scene of an insurrection attempting to block the certification of that election. He celebrated his primary win with one of the architects of the coup attempt, who hinted at future plans to undermine Pennsylvania elections.

It all fits, but what’s striking is that far from being turned to conspiracy theories by Trump, Mastriano was right there in 2001, creating them. Trump and QAnon just gave him a new set of false claims to work with—and helped elevate him to prominence in the Republican Party.

Published with permission of Daily Kos

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