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The 21st District deserves better

To the editor:

As Election Day approaches and voters pay increased attention to the candidates, it’s a good time to consider their pedigrees and their records — beyond the self-aggrandizing advertisements that continually bombard voters.

If consistency and adherence to principle are fair measures, Elise Stefanik’s track record certainly disappoints. Her career was launched in Washington as a staffer in George W. Bush’s White House. In the past she has touted that association, so one would reasonably conclude that she supported Bush’s policies, specifically the ill-considered invasion of Iraq. That association is further reinforced by her role as communications director for the Foreign Policy Initiative, a think tank populated by prominent neoconservatives who beat the drum for the Iraq invasion and continue to defend it to this day. Then she embraced Paul Ryan as a mentor, the same Paul Ryan who was the author of “Path to Prosperity,” a plan designed to gut Medicare and other “entitlements” such as Social Security. Most recently she has pledged unqualified allegiance to the current president, a man who has consistently and viciously denigrated both Bush and Ryan.

Why does this matter? Because it illustrates a pattern of unadulterated opportunism. Throughout her career, the congresswoman has bear-hugged national politicians whose only common characteristic is their prominence, regardless of how much their principles diverged. The zigging and zagging from Bush and then to Ryan and now to Trump is a stark illustration of the worst of today’s politics. And this pattern belies any commitment to policy or principle — other than the principle of political expediency.

This track record of latching on to those of prominence has never been as blatant and damaging as the congresswoman’s continual blind support of the sitting president. That support has been unaffected by the president’s mishandling of the COVID response, criticisms by respected former military advisers and a total disregard, to the point of denial, of climate change. In a world where the U.S. is the per-capita leader in COVID-19 infections and deaths, and the president touts his effectiveness in dealing with the virus and the fantasy that it will miraculously disappear, Stefanik concurs. In a world where the country’s most respected military professional, Marine Gen. James Mattis, has called the president a threat to the U.S. Constitution, Stefanik is silent. In a world where weather events are ravaging large swaths of the country and the president’s response is, “It will get colder,” Stefanik evades. And unfortunately, this obsequiousness is consistent with a broader history of opportunistic behavior — her image as a carpetbagger who has consistently relied on the financial backing of organizations and individuals outside the North Country who have no interest in its future.

It’s clear that the congresswoman’s present patron has abandoned any facade of solving the country’s problems. Her unqualified support is only the most recent indication of her bad judgment and her disdain for principle in the pursuit of personal ambition. America deserves better, and so does the 21st District.

Bill Gole

Lake Placid

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