Stefanik elected as House Republican Conference chair, third in party command

Congresswoman Elise Stefanik addresses the crowd at a victory party, Nov. 3, in Glens Falls. Christopher Lenney/ Watertown Daily Times

The following editorial appeared in the Adirondack Daily Enterprise on May 7:

SARANAC LAKE — It sure was nice to not to hear from Donald Trump for three months.

But now the bully is back, calling names, repeating lies and demanding loyalty. Sadly, Republican leaders are willing to bow to his whims and make their party a cult of personality again, sacrificing honesty and fair play on his altar.

The test of loyalty, still, is believing — or pretending to believe — Trump’s made-up story that he actually won last year’s election, not Joe Biden. Sycophants like our Northern New York congresswoman, Elise Stefanik, know it’s not true, but they pander to get in Trump’s good graces.

Stefanik and her staff won’t talk to news reporters in her district or answer their questions, but on [May 6] she appeared on the “War Room” podcast of Steve Bannon, the right wing adviser Trump ousted — but then pardoned on his way out of the White House. (Bannon had been charged with duping thousands of Trump supporters into donating money for a wall between the U.S. and Mexico; he allegedly took the money for himself.) On the podcast, Stefanik called Trump “the president,” signaling that she, too, believes he never lost.

“My vision is to run with support from the president and his coalition of voters,” she told Bannon.

She also told Bannon she supports an audit of Arizona’s vote count. These election challenges were aired months ago.

Dozens of courts (some with judges Trump appointed) threw them out for lack of evidence. Stefanik doesn’t have any new evidence here; it’s just more pandering.

Stefanik is party leaders’ choice to replace Rep. Liz Cheney as House Republican conference chair. The reason is that Cheney has called Trump out on the election lie and is trying to get the GOP to be honest.

She’s losing that fight. The party’s federal lawmakers are choosing Trump over truth. Trump has asked them to boot Cheney out of the No. 3 Republican House leadership post, and they’re doing so.

It’s sad how Stefanik is getting into leadership by following, and Cheney is losing leadership by trying to lead.

Our criticism is about methods, not policies. Republicans are actually hurting their chance to rein in the Democrats’ agenda.

Biden and the Democrats are pushing a huge growth of government, spending an incredible amount of money this country doesn’t have and leaving the bill for future generations. We have fundamental problems with taking on that much debt and with government being so lavish with aid.

We believe it’s better for people who can work for a living to do so and pay their own way as much as possible. Public funding needs to be more strategic and limited. Granted, we also have problems with many Republicans’ tendency to favor the rich, disdain immigrants, tolerate bigotry and sacrifice the environment.

But still, each party makes up about half of our nation’s voters, and we need both to have a say in setting the course and making decisions. Either party, on its own, is going to make costly mistakes. We need balance.

But when the Republicans become a cult of personality, they lose sight of their ideals and let Trump violate their values of fiscal and personal responsibility. They lose credibility and lose the respect of those outside their ranks.

This weakens their hand in governing. Instead of focusing on the game at hand, the GOP is trying to rewrite the history of last season.

Democrats are taking that opportunity to run the table. But by grabbing as much as they can, they are setting up some problems.

Stefanik likes to tout her bipartisanship and once was actually bipartisan. We can only hope she uses her new leadership role to lead and in a wiser direction. But first she will have to get right with reality.

© 2021 Adirondack Daily Enterprise

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