George Santos Is a Model Republican

Still, I think a lot could have gone wrong with the way Democrats messaged around a defense of democracy. When Biden trotted out “ultra MAGA” some months ago, I worried he was more likely to energize the opposition than rally his own troops. But more recently, I heard one of Pennsylvania Governor-elect Josh Shapiro’s final campaign speeches, and I realized just how much power this closing argument could marshal.

I’m not letting Doug Mastriano take away your vote.… That is not how things work in this commonwealth or in this country. That’s not how our democracy works, and that’s not what freedom is all about.

This guy loves to talk a good game about “freedom” all the time. Right? We’ve heard that. Let me tell you something: It’s not freedom to tell women what they’re allowed to do with their bodies. Right? That’s not freedom. It’s not freedom to tell our schoolchildren what books they’re allowed to read. That’s not freedom. It’s not freedom to tell workers they can work a 40-hour workweek but they can’t be a member of a union. That’s not freedom. And it sure as hell isn’t freedom to say, you can go vote, but he’s gonna pick the winner. That’s not freedom. That’s not how we do things here in Pennsylvania.

This is the way to talk about democracy: not as something that only started mattering because Donald Trump came along to piss on it but as the great provider of the gifts of the good life—prosperity, stability, and dignity. Democracy is also something that has enemies, who should be cheerfully and confidently named and shamed.

Obviously the fight is far from over; lots of illiberal Republicans won this week. And now that democracy is “off the ballot,” Democrats need to help everyone who cast a vote to preserve democracy find new and creative ways to tend to it in all the days that come between elections. But we can put any skepticism about the “message” to bed. The fight for democracy is a good fight, and it’s good that the right people found a way, while facing long odds, to draw a line in the sand and punch the bullies in the mouth. More of this, please!