Stripping U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney of her leadership position is a sad day for the Republican Party and for democracy. Rep. Cheney, the sole member of the House of Representatives from Wyoming, was moved to the back bench because she believes in the rule of law rather than mob rule.
Last fall, Donald J. Trump lost the presidency while the Republican Party essentially won the election. The American electorate turned him out, explaining that it was not particularly enthusiastic for the style of his presidency. However, those same voters delivered more Republicans to seats in the House and state legislatures.
That victory was tarnished by Mr. Trump’s allegations that victory had been stolen from him. He delivered a damaging message in the state of Georgia where the two Republican senators had won pluralities in the November ballot.
However, those pluralities did not meet Georgia’s requirement that elections be decided by more than 50% of those voting. The required runoff election was marred by Mr. Trump’s rants about stolen elections and votes. Voters turned their backs on him and the election, which would decide control of the U.S. Senate.
Unfortunately, Congresswomen Elise M. Stefanik bought into Trump’s stolen election charade. She had ably represented her constituents and her political party with her aggressive stance during the first Trump impeachment proceedings.
She did not leave it there. Instead, when voters spoke on Election Day and when not one of multiple court cases charging election fraud was sustained, Rep. Stefanik still took Trump’s bait and perpetuated the myth of a stolen election.
Rep. Cheney did not accept the Trump assertion and expressed great concern for the future of the Republican Party and democracy. The virtue of this great country has been peaceful elections and the smooth transition of power between differing political factions.
Then came the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol by an unruly mob who were encouraged by the president. And Ms. Stefanik continued to question the legitimacy of some members of the Electoral College.
Ms. Cheney stood up to the Trump wing of her party and articulated the value of our democratic process. She looked forward to a Republican Party of moderate views to act as a loyal opposition — something the extremists in the party refused to accept.
Rep. Stefanik, whose political persona has changed since she was first elected to Congress, immediately become an ardent opponent of Rep. Cheney and has now taken over Ms. Cheney’s leadership position for the Republican Party in the House of Representatives.
Political ambition is an admirable goal. Ms. Stefanik has successfully recruited women to seek seats in Congress.
And she has succeeded. Several of the candidates she nurtured were elected in this last election, helping in part narrow the Democratic majority in the House.
There also are consequences for political ambition. Ms. Stefanik’s continued attacks on Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo may have resulted in her congressional district being on the short end of executive actions by the governor. Just recall the closure of the Dry Hill prison.
Now as she rises in the GOP hierarchy state Democrats who control the reapportionment process have the north country congressional district in their aim. They seem to be salivating over the prospects of cutting the north country into multiple pieces and divvying it up among other congressional districts. State Democratic Party chair Jay Jacobs is quoted by City and State Magazine that is not the case but he left the door wide open, referring to such a notion as “Simply a hope — for now.”
It is easy to envision that the district that houses Fort Drum and nearly the entire state border with Canada could be divided into pieces. Look at the creation of the river district to enhance the election of a Democrat to the state Assembly.
Jefferson County was divided into two sections carefully crafted by party registration. Take a look at the result of the last reappointment process St. Lawrence County was divided among four Assembly districts.
The north country’s most important government asset — Fort Drum — could easily be in a congressional district including Utica and Rome while the city of Watertown could be in a district beginning in Syracuse and the resort communities along the St. Lawrence and Lake Ontario could be part of Rochester district.
While Ms. Stefanik espouses anti-democratic politics in Washington, her constituents are left fearing not only for the strength of their democracy but their loss of representation in Washington, which is critical to our future.
There is always hope that Ms. Stefanik will turn her back on Donald Trump and promote efforts to reinvigorate the Republican Party.
The north country needs to understand just what she has in mind — democracy or anarchy.