None of us should be surprised by the awful note that was left on Rep. Elise Stefanik’s car this weekend, especially not the congresswoman.
I know I wasn’t.
Just last month I wrote about how our young congresswoman had changed, about how she has used social media to attack her opponents and contribute to the divisions in our communities.
“Elise Stefanik has brought the blood sport of national politics to the North Country,” I wrote in my Feb. 2 column. “The national war will be fought here and it will divide us further.”
Politics was never war around here.
It is now.
I believe Rep. Stefanik’s campaign philosophy to attack opponents and the media is part of the reason.
The note, scrawled on a white piece of paper and placed on Stefanik’s car, said “Rot in Hell Fascist PIG.”
The note is wrong in every possible way imaginable, and something we should never see in a civilized society, but here we are.
Certainly, Rep. Stefanik must know the anger is out there.
Certainly, Rep. Stefanik must realize her use of social media to attack and antagonize people with different political views is being remembered.
Certainly, she has seen the video of the rallies outside her office of local residents hurling obscenities at each other.
What sticks out most about this incident is her choice to almost immediately politicize the note further and portray herself as an innocent victim.
Rep. Stefanik is absolutely a victim here, but not an innocent one.
She should not be subjected to anonymous threatening notes while simply going about her daily routine.
But her job is a dirty one.
While members of Congress were once held in high esteem, that is simply not the case anymore. More than ever, the way they campaign and how they win elections and gain power is held in low regard.
The truth has been a casualty for some time.
Rep. Stefanik’s attacks on congressional colleagues and the twisting of the truth time and time again are being noticed as she perpetuates political stereotypes. It is making some angry. And as the note on her car shows, irrationally angry in some cases.
But Rep. Stefanik must understand that she continues to add fuel to the fire.
She continues to be part of the problem that divides our small communities.
Howard Dean, the former Vermont governor and Democratic National Committee chair who once ran for president, cracked open his Bible to respond.
“As ye sow, so shall ye reap,” Dean wrote on Twitter.
There is something to be said for that.
Rep. Stefanik is still a young woman, and maybe she is still learning the lessons of great responsibility that come with elected office.
Maybe, she has become too enamored of her recent fame.
I ask her to stop the attacks.
I ask her to stop the name-calling and hurtful nicknames.
Be civil, be polite, be courteous and respectful and I believe the anonymous notes will stop.
It is never too late to be a leader who does the right thing.
Ken Tingley is the editor of The Post-Star and may be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. His blog “The Front Page” discusses issues about newspapers and journalism. You can also follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/kentingley.
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