What Stefanik should’ve said

I read in the Nov. 16 Adirondack Daily Enterprise that U.S. Rep. Elise Stefanik (R, NY-21) endorsed Donald Trump for president in 2024.

Instead of endorsing Trump, this is the speech that Rep. Stefanik should have delivered:

“I, Representative Elise Stefanik, will not support Donald Trump’s candidacy for President in 2024. In addition, I am announcing my Agenda for America’s Renewal.

“Donald Trump is unfit for any elective office or other position involving the public trust. In 2016 he was unfit based on his boasting about sexual assaults and his insulting of the war hero, Senator John McCain. During his presidency, his lies, his malignant ego, his cozy relationship with the murderous Russian President Vladimir Putin, and his attempted insurrection made him even more unfit. Since leaving the White House, Trump’s rhetoric has spiraled downward into profanity, insults, threats, crazy policy proposals, and autocratic aspirations.

“I was wrong to oppose Trump’s two impeachments, which I now consider to be among the most-important accomplishments in the history of the U.S. House of Representatives. Trump may soon be a convicted felon.

“Not only is the Republican Party morally bankrupt for having supported Trump, we’ve become intellectually bankrupt — with no guiding principles, goals, or public policy agenda. Congressional Republicans have devolved into little more than tools of Trump’s whims and urges, responding reflexively to each of his deranged social media posts and triggering government shutdowns.

“The Republican Party must begin a reformation, so that we can again offer something to voters beyond obstruction and resentment. We must undertake an Agenda for America’s Renewal, beginning with the following components:

–The Republican Party must reject Trump, Trumpism, election deniers, insurrectionists, racists, anti-Semites, misogynists, anti-LGBTQ, and other haters. On a related point, Republicans must stop vilifying immigrants. Our immigration laws and processes need to be updated, but in a manner that reflects appreciation for the many ways immigrants contribute to the American economy and enhance our culture.

— Reproductive medical decisions should involve a woman and her physician, and perhaps her partner or religious advisor, but not her congressman.

— Climate change is real, and it is deadly. Republicans must support efforts to wean ourselves from fossil fuel by supporting renewable energy, energy-efficient buildings and transportation, and a carbon tax.

— Guns are not the solution to crime; guns are the problem. We have far, far too many deaths from guns, and too many of the wrong kinds of guns in the wrong hands. Republicans must support reasonable gun control measures, including gun buy-back programs, banning high-capacity gun magazines, limiting access to certain types of guns, and keeping guns out of the hands of violent people.

— Federal budget deficits are a problem, but Republican calls to slash spending and attack “waste, fraud, and abuse” represent laughably inadequate responses. I point to the excellent Adirondack Daily Enterprise commentary, “Fixing the deficit, billions at a time,” by Tony Goodwin, as a beginning roadmap for addressing this problem.

— On a related point, Republicans must stop pointing to markets and deregulation as solutions for every public policy challenge, because markets are incapable of addressing many of our needs. Public education, roads and other public infrastructure, protecting our environment and our borders, preventing crime, foreign affairs, safe food and drugs–a robust role for government is essential to these and many other aspects of a civilized society. Republicans must stop denigrating government and trying to slash it, and instead work with Democrats to help make it work better.

— Republicans must also start working with Democrats on other pressing public policy concerns, as well as our shared Constitutional responsibilities, because Republicans do not hold a monopoly on virtue or reason. Our differences in policy preferences can and must be negotiated. Our policy dialogues should be based on reason, evidence, and public policy options, not name-calling and threats of fist-fights.

— Dark money has corrupted American politics. Political campaigns are heavily financed by dark entities who do not reveal their identity or intentions, and campaign finance limits and disclosure requirements must be restored.

— Gerrymandering, or corrupt drawing of legislative districts at the state and federal level, has corrupted federal and state government. We must reform the drawing of legislative districts so that elected representatives are collectively representative of those they serve. Republicans must also stop discouraging or preventing specific groups of people from voting, otherwise known as voter-suppression.

— Parts of our Federal Judiciary have been corrupted by politics and dark money influences. Term limits must be implemented for the Supreme Court, along with strict ethical rules.

“A healthy American political party does not attempt an insurrection, and decisive steps need to be taken so that the Republican Party can again contribute to America. Donald Trump must have no future role in government, but other pressing problems must also be addressed. We are all threatened by Trumpism, infringement on reproductive rights, climate change, guns, overt efforts to hobble or destroy government programs people rely on, Congressional dysfunction, money and dark influence in politics, unequal representation in government, and a corrupted federal judiciary. I offer my Agenda for America’s Renewal as a constructive path forward for the Republican Party and our nation.

“Democracy is under assault around the world, often because people see government as corrupted and self-serving. We must offer an example of ‘government of the people, by the people, and for the people’ that motivates, liberates, empowers, and enables people to again contribute for the betterment of all Americans. I urge you to join me in this effort.

“Thank you, and God Bless America.”

Again, this is the speech Rep. Elise Stefanik should have delivered, so that she would be respected and admired by future generations as a leader of America’s renewal, instead of being shamed in history as a major contributor to the potential downfall of this great nation. The choice is hers — and that of voters in NY-21.

— — —

David Banks is a current resident of Rockville, Maryland and former resident of Lake Clear.


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