The Big Lie has infiltrated Pennsylvania, with several possible Republican candidates for governor leading the charge, threatening the future of our elections. 

Just days after state Sen. Doug Mastriano called for an absurd forensic investigation of the 2020 election, former U.S. Attorney Bill McSwain entered the fray. McSwain sent a letter to former President Donald Trump, claiming that he received “allegations of voter fraud and election irregularities” on Election Day and afterward. But as Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro rightfully pointed out, if McSwain had encountered any legitimate fraud claims, he should have referred them to Shapiro, the state’s top prosecutor. When even Trump’s onetime Attorney General Bill Barr says he’s making these accusations to curry favor with Trump, you know this is a sideshow.

Election security was not a problem in 2020. There was no widespread fraud, no matter how many wild claims are made or lawsuits are filed (and eventually dismissed). Nobody wants to lose an election. I know firsthand how much it stings. But repeatedly spreading outright lies, instigating an insurrection, or calling for costly and unnecessary audits damages our democracy, which is far more important than who is declared the winner.

Republicans claim to be victimized by the “left-wing media’s agenda,” even as the press struggles to survive. Pennsylvania’s public broadcasters were among the biggest losers in the most recent budget, receiving zero funding. This development came after Harrisburg’s public radio station, WITF, announced it would run a disclaimer next to any news about lawmakers who had challenged Biden’s election victory. That is not choosing a side; it is simply reporting relevant facts.

Similarly, the GOP loves to level this criticism at Big Tech companies like Facebook, Twitter, Apple and Google. They accuse these companies of “censoring conservative voices” when they attempt to stop the spread of conspiracy theories.

In fact, Axios reports that lobbyists for Rupert Murdoch’s media companies, including FOX News, are calling on House Republicans to support antitrust bills to crack down on Big Tech. Here in the Commonwealth, Sen. Mastriano is among those pushing the Social Media Accountability Act, calling for social media sites to face civil penalties for restricting “free speech.” These lawmakers conveniently ignore that tech companies are massive employers in the state and account for $56 billion in economic activity in Pennsylvania. Not to mention the technology tools that have helped businesses stay afloat during the pandemic, providing them with essential services like e-commerce, digital advertising, social media platforms – all of which have allowed them to reach customers, no matter the distance.

Pointing the finger at our election systems, journalists and tech companies is merely a distraction from the issues that concern so many of our fellow Pennsylvanians.

For example, we need bipartisan solutions to help small businesses recover from the devastation of the pandemic. These businesses, notably those owned by minorities, continue to struggle. Let’s find ways to invest in solutions, including raising the minimum wage, that spur our economy and promote job creation, especially in these communities.

We are at a crossroads in Pennsylvania, but we have the power to choose the right path forward. As we declare our independence from the pandemic, let’s put partisan politics and misinformation aside and fight for what is truly important to help our economic recovery.

Let’s look beyond the Big Lie and attacks on Big Tech. Together, let’s focus on the issues that matter so that we can make a difference for all Pennsylvanians.

Eugene DePasquale served as Pennsylvania Auditor General from 2013 to 2021. He previously served in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives, representing the 95th district.