ADE is too easy on Stefanik

Suzanne Miller uses signs, with language she describes as respectful, to protest against U.S. Rep. Elise Stefanik. (Photo provided by Suzanne Miller)

I must express my appreciation to you, as the editor of the Adirondack Daily Enterprise, for the very fair assessment of New York 21st Congressional District (NY21stCD) “representative” Elise Stefanik as wanting, as well as your advocacy on behalf of the 700,000-plus residents of the district, in encouraging the “representative” to engage in fair and open dialogue with her constituents. Your multiple editorials in this regard have been fair and very honest in their advocacy for the residents of NY21stCD. This has remained true up until your recent editorial of Saturday, May 27.

I must take very strong exception to your editorial of said date. Your unfortunate choice of characterizing particular signs and other parts of the recent protest at Ms. Stefanik’s televised town hall as “overboard reactions to the Republican health care bill she voted for” is both ill-informed and succumbing to the “poor Elise” mentality that the “representative” and her staff choose to barricade and insulate her with, and therefore place as a huge OBSTACLE to her constituents’ ability to gain access to her, which is very much a part of her JOB. Shame on you, ADE editor.

Ms. Stefanik is a child of deep PRIVILEGE. She has attended private schools for her education and worked in various government positions resulting from the connections existing in and among those of privilege. She utilizes a second family home in Willsboro, on file in her MOTHER’S name on the Essex County tax rolls, as her residence in this district. While such is her good fortune, it is all the more reason why she should be much more willing to reach out to constituents and communicate much more openly and directly with us to find out exactly what residents here face, not living her very charmed life.

By removing themselves from direct communication and contact with their constituents, as Ms. Stefanik, Speaker Paul Ryan, Rep. John Faso (NY20thCD) and far too many other Republican members of Congress have chosen to do — by engaging in behaviors like shutting off their office phones, refusing to accept visits to their offices, and engage in in-district town hall meetings with their consituents — these members of Congress are repudiating the mandate from the people they are SUPPOSED TO work for: to address those constituents and their NEEDS. Speaker Ryan has demonstrated a deep and profound LACK of leadership. He has not held an in-district meeting with HIS constituents (WI1stCD) in more than 600 days, according to the Stop the Speaker PAC Facebook page. He chose instead to spend his congressional recess courting wealthy supporters in California, Texas and Florida.

The more disturbing fact regarding Ms. Stefanik is that she holds the NY21stCD seat as a direct result of the infusion of over a million dollars from PACs into her campaign coffers. This money, and the “strings” that run from it, as well as those from wealthy donors to other members of Congress, are the “ties that bind” these Republicans to corporate wealth, rather than their CONSTITUENTS. This “ownership” of members of Congress provides the impetus behind this debacle known as the American Health Care Act.

Suzanne Miller uses signs, with language she describes as respectful, to protest against U.S. Rep. Elise Stefanik. (Photo provided by Suzanne Miller)

The Republicans have had SEVEN YEARS to come up with reasonable amendments to the Affordable Care Act, which is presently supported by a large percentage of the American populace. For these Republicans to feel that removing health insurance benefits from 24 million Americans, in the first iteration of the AHCA; and 23 million Americans in the second, by assessment of the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office, is both mean-spirited and extremely punitive, especially to far too many Americans who are continuing to deeply feel the impacts of the 2008 financial crisis, as well as those who have felt the deep grip of poverty as a result of policies intent upon limiting and/or diminishing funding for health care, education and affordable housing and child care, to name just a few. These two recent versions of the ACHA have also included significant tax advantages for the wealthiest, who need them least, as well as lucrative opportunities for practices such as corporate price fixing and gouging, which would result in making health care coverage for far too many individuals extremely expensive. These will “rob from the poor, and give to the rich,” in common parlance, and dramatically impact all with pre-existing conditions, the disabled, and the older population of this nation.

Ms. Stefanik and her Republican colleagues SHOULD NOT and CANNOT be excused from full responsibility for the harmful effects of their fully supported ACHA, which they demonstrated by their “yea” votes. Your implied suggestion that Ms. Stefanik is a “politician who, in a pinch, voted with the party of majority that elected her — nothing outrageous about that,” is either willfully ignorant and uninformed, or as mean-spirited as these Republicans’ intentions. For YOUR sake, dear editor, I pray it is the former. Please know, as passed by the House Republicans, the ACHA will surely and unnecessarily prove harmful and potentially fatal to far too many Americans. It is the hope of THIS reader, and many other like-minded citizens of NY21stCD and these United States, that such is NOT what you are asking us to accept.

The most basic tenants of the Bill of Rights grants ALL citizens the right to speak freely and assemble peacefully. While I agree with your observation that these have been divisive times, I am appalled at your implied suggestion that somehow, those of us who have chosen to speak out and peacefully assemble, in protest of actions we feel are in deep opposition to the values of our great nation, are “being jerks about it.” While YOU are certainly entitled to your opinions regarding said demonstrations, I would hope, given your position, that YOU would chose more respectful and less insistent language and tone regarding those of us who have chosen to #Resist.

I have not and never will be disrespectful in my protest. I will, however, continue to persist in my resistance of the efforts of a woman whose address in my district is a second family home and who chooses not to represent her constituents in a manner truly beneficial to them and their needs. I look forward to a much more BALANCED and FAIR representation of YOUR views of the ongoing saga that is Elise Stefanik and her lack of representation of the interests of her constituents, those of us who reside in NY21stCD.

Suzanne M. Miller lives in Saranac Lake.