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A Threat to Democracy

Wed, 11/02/2022 - 09:53


The prospect of a Trumpist Republican House of Representatives appears to have dampened enthusiasm among middle-of-the-road voters on eastern Long Island. In fact, there has been more heat by far surrounding a proposal that would authorize a new tax to help pay for affordable housing than has the prospect of the far-right’s undermining democracy. It should not be this way. With an election denier running (in an election) for New York governor the threat should feel very real, even here in a “blue” state. Say what you will about Gov. Kathy Hochul, at least she has never been an open supporter of a seditious conspiracy marked by a violent assault on the nation’s Capitol.

The scope of what will happen if the Republican Party takes control of the House is mind-boggling. For example, Jim Jordan of Ohio, who could be the chairman of the Judiciary Committee, told Fox News that he would seek probes into everything from the president’s son, Hunter Biden’s, business dealings to the seizure of documents from Mar-a-Lago. Also a target would be Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, who the right would like to see impeached because they oppose his handling of the border with Mexico.

House Republicans talk about shutting down the government by refusing to raise the debt ceiling next year in a scheme to force Democrats to agree to cuts in Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. Clay Higgins of Louisiana, who could be chairman of the Homeland Security Committee, shared a social media meme saying that the man who attacked House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s husband was actually a “nudist hippie male prostitute LSD guy” with whom Paul Pelosi had intended to engage in sex. Representative Higgins has also promoted vigilante “justice,” saying he would shoot Black Lives Matter protesters on sight and has said that anyone suspected of being an Islamic radical should be killed. These are not fringe players — they are the heart of Republican political ideology these days. Locally, even the leader of the local G.O.P. has jumped aboard, calling Suffolk Legislator Bridget Fleming, who is running for Congress, a “radical extremist.”

Ms. Fleming is in a tight race to take the House seat vacated by Lee Zeldin, who hopes to be New York governor. Her opponent, Nick LaLota, is a former Republican commissioner at the Suffolk County Board of Elections. She is by far the better candidate. Ms. Fleming was an assistant district attorney in Manhattan in a sex crimes unit before managing pro bono programs for the New York City Bar Association. She was a member of the Southampton Town Board before being elected to the Suffolk Legislature. Mr. LaLota, an Amityville resident, does not even live in the First District; Ms. Fleming does, in Noyac.

Mr. LaLota was an Amityville Village Board member before being appointed to the board of elections. Two years ago, in an entirely avoidable embarrassment, Mr. LaLota was disqualified 4-to-0 by a New York Appellate Court for running for State Senate while he was still an elections commissioner. His claim that he was taking a “leave of absence” was something not allowed under state law, the court said. It is not difficult to imagine that he would bring his willingness to play fast and loose with elections to national politics — and wholeheartedly support the worst anti-democracy impulses of his rudderless, amoral party.


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