Originally published at PennLive on August 29, 2016.
When I first heard state Sen. Scott Wagner, R-York, speak, I joked he’s one cheesy red “Make Pennsylvania Great Again” hat away from becoming a complete cartoon.
Flash-forward to his outright embrace of Donald Trump this summer, and it’s no longer funny.
While others backed away from the GOP nominee in the face of increasingly unstable behavior, Wagner doubled-down, proclaiming “Trump is similar in many ways to me.” I couldn’t agree more.
Yes, they’re both brash, businessmen who barreled their way into politics, shocking pundits. But it goes far deeper.
Like Trump, Wagner throws his money around. They’re both thin-skinned, temperamentally unfit and prone to big, brazen talk. When their words rub rational people the wrong way, protectors “explain” what they “really” mean.
Wagner mused about Trump, “Does he think sometimes before he says something? No, but I mean it’s sort of his nature. That’s my nature.”
However, the Trump/Wagner way is dangerously divisive. Their nature puts facts aside while berating and belittling anyone in their path.
Upon endorsing, Wagner already had a full year to take in Trump’s misogyny, race-baiting, minority-bashing, dismissing POW sacrifice and ridiculing the disabled.
In the face of all this, Wagner still saw fit to come out full-force.
While many mainstream Republicans skipped the Republican Nationa Convention – including home-state Gov. John Kasich – Wagner took the Trumpian step of commissioning a private jet one state away to Cleveland to sit in Trump’s private family box.
After huddling with Trump’s team, he asked for 20,000 lawn signs to litter throughout Pennsylvania.
Recently, Wagner had the chance to ratchet back his support. When asked point-blank if anything could cause him to walk away, Wagner didn’t blink.
Even after Trump feuded with families of fallen soldiers, implored Russia to spy on American citizens and suggested sexual harassment victims should simply quit their job, Wagner left no wiggle room.
He declared, “I’ll start my car and leave the garage door down in my house before I do that. I’ll eat rat poison first. I’m not voting for Hillary.”
While Wagner’s violent hyperbole only extended to himself, a few days later, Trump openly pondered assassination – suggesting “Second Amendment People” can stop Clinton.
Still, Wagner serves as Trump’s apologist, calling him “unpolished.”
Apparently, he’s fine inciting violence and playing to humanity’s worst elements. It brings to mind how, after winning his first election, Wagner threatened “I’ll be sitting in the back room with a baseball bat” when the legislative session starts in Harrisburg.
Clearly, he recognizes a kindred spirit in Trump, who tells dissenters “I’ll beat the crap out of you” or “I’d like to punch you in the face.”
Just like Trump, Wagner relishes suing people, especially those without the means to fight back. Like when his trash hauling company – Penn Waste – sued an 84-year old woman over unpaid bills for services she didn’t use. She rightfully called Wagner “a bully.”
Wagner’s made the calculated decision to proudly brand himself a Pennsylvania-version of Trump – an outsider who made big bucks and will bring a fresh voice.
But they’re both simply part of the same, stale group of elites pitting people against each other for their own gain.
While Trump continues alienating large swaths of America with every rotten utterance, the more Wagner talks, the more he exposes who he truly stands for: himself.
Wagner’s the consummate example of an “outsider” who grasps the rings of power the second he scales the wall.
Though purporting to be a good businessman, Wagner continues throwing good money after bad backing Trump. He doesn’t know when to cut an awful investment.
As recently as Aug. 12, Wagner blasted an email re-iterating his support – days after Trump ignorantly claimed President Obama created ISIS (while in the Illinois State Senate). And, according to a Bloomberg poll, 83% remain bothered by Trump mocking the disabled, months after the incident transpired.
Hundreds of Republicans are finally standing up to say they can’t support Trump due to obvious flaws – recklessness , increasingly unpredictable statements and his lack of basic knowledge. Then again, even those abandoning at this late stage might still be tarnished by the stink.
But don’t take my word for it.
Republican consultant Matt Mackowiak spoke of the “devil’s bargain you make with Trump if you want to be on his team. You have to absolutely tie yourself to him.”
To be clear, Wagner is tethered to Trump forevermore, especially as he continues pushing his chips to the middle of the failed casino mogul’s table.
“I believe Donald Trump is gonna win Pennsylvania and the people of Pennsylvania are gonna come out of the woodwork because they’re fed up, sick and tired,” pronounced Wagner.
However, long after this campaign season is over, anyone with a conscience will be sick and tired of those who aided, abetted and defended Trump.
In years to come, Pennsylvanians will come out of the woodwork to show out-of-touch opportunists like Wagner that he doesn’t represent their values.
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