Sometime before Wednesday, when a pro-Trump mob attacked the U.S. Capitol, beating police officers in the process, Mike Grasso, the former head of the Warren County Republican Committee, wrote a letter to this paper, praising Elise Stefanik.
“The North Country, and our 21st Congressional District, is so fortunate to have a fighter at the helm. A woman who will not bow out!” the letter says.
It can take a couple of days for letters to get into the paper, and Grasso’s was not published until Sunday. On Monday, however, he said he hadn’t changed his mind about anything, despite the invasion of the Capitol by an armed mob; the vicious beating of officers, one of whom died; and threats on the lives of members of Congress and the vice president.
He still supports Stefanik and her push to invalidate election results in certain states, which continued even after the Capitol assault.
He argued that ballots in Detroit had been cast in the names of dead voters, and that overvotes had been cast in various places. These are stories that were investigated and disproved. If you doubt that, look them up.
Scores of lawsuits were brought by Republicans like Rudy Giuliani, working for President Donald Trump, and were dismissed, often by Republican judges, some of them appointed by Trump. States counted and recounted. Republican governors and secretaries of state and elections officials certified the results.
By the time Stefanik signed onto a flimsy Texas lawsuit, trying to overturn results in other states, and by the time she made her ill-fated objections on the floor of the House of Representatives, nothing was left to fight over. The election had been decided for weeks, and what Stefanik and many other Republican members of Congress were doing was stoking the fire of insurrection, nothing else.
Grasso was mildly critical of Trump’s role in the violence and hinted he had lost support in the Republican Party by inciting it.
But he should say so, without hesitation, and so should other prominent Republicans in our area, like Betty Little and Dan Stec and Chris Gibson and Rachel Seeber and Sam Hall. Do they stand with the family of Brian Sicknick, the officer who was beaten to death, or with the man who said to his supporters, as they waved Trump flags and American flags and Confederate flags, that they should walk down to the Capitol and fight?
During his speech to whip up a mob that turned murderous, Trump referred to the group disputing the long-decided election, of which Stefanik was a member: “I want to thank the more than 140 members of the House. Those are warriors,” he said.
Warriors. And Stefanik is a warrior “who will not bow out!” according to Grasso.
Words lead to actions. That’s why a staple element of war movies is the pre-battle speech to inspire the troops. Trump inspired his troops before their battle, while Stefanik and the rest fought on the political front to undermine public confidence in the election results.
What we need now is grassroots pressure on all the members of Congress who did the wrong thing over the past few years — and especially, over the past couple of months — to change their behavior.
The riot at the Capitol was inspired by propaganda that the election had been stolen from Trump. If you condemn the violence, you must condemn the propagandists who ignited it — Trump was the biggest of those, but Stefanik was one of his loyal soldiers. Only pressure from within her district will make her change, and only local Republicans can provide that pressure.
Local editorials are written by the Post-Star editorial board, which includes Ben Rogers, president and director of local sales and marketing; Brian Corcoran, regional finance director and former publisher; Will Doolittle, projects editor; and Bob Condon, local news editor.