Reviews | How Elise Stefanik became “Ultra-MAGA and proud of it”
“She’s become a celebrity,” a Bush administration colleague of Ms. Stefanik told me, who requested anonymity so the person could speak freely about what is still a very sensitive topic. Until then, that person said, “She hadn’t fully boarded the Trump train. Then she was put in first class and she couldn’t get off. And the first class is quite sumptuous.
I contacted Ms. Stefanik’s director of communications twice, seeking input from the MP, but received no response. Ms. Stefanik, in defending herself, argued that she reflected the views of the majority of people in her district, and it does. Mr. Trump lifted his district by 14 percentage points in 2016. “I represent farmers, manufacturers, and hard-working families who want someone to stand up for them, and President Trump has spoken to those people,” he said. she declared. said to Mr. Bannon on his show.
But even if you think the job of an elected official is to vote according to the will of the voters rather than their duty to “his judgment and conscience”, as British parliamentarian and Conservative political theorist Edmund Burke so aptly put it, at some point realizing the will of the voters may become indefensible. This is certainly true if a member of Congress is to support a seditious president.
Watching what happened with Ms. Stefanik is sad and disturbing because people who know her say she knows better. She was willing to be shaped by circumstances, even when circumstances pushed her into ugly places and to embrace conspiracy theories. Contrast that with Ms. Cheney, who was stripped of her Republican leadership position and replaced by Ms. Stefanik. Ms. Cheney represents the people of Wyoming on many issues that are important to them, but she has written off a fundamental attack on our democracy. She wouldn’t cross that line. Ms. Stefanik did.
Ms. Stefanik’s story is important in part because it mirrors that of so many other Republicans. They, like Ms. Stefanik, are opportunists, living completely in the moment, changing their personalities to advance their immediate political interests. A commitment to ethical conduct, devotion to the common good, and faithfulness to the truth seem to have no intrinsic value to them. These qualities are only instruments, used when they are useful but rejected when they are inconvenient.
Politicians and former Bush administration officials I spoke to worried that Republicans in Congress would conclude that Ms. Stefanik’s path to power is one to emulate. The fast track to leadership is enlisting the likes of Mr. Trump, Mr. Bannon, and what one interviewee called the “grassroots army,” made up as it is of QAnon followers. , Christian nationalists, right-wing radio amateurs. and those determined to overturn the elections.