Lies are making America a dangerous place

When was the last time you trusted a politician to tell the truth? Republican or Democrat? Independent or Socialist? We’ve been living with lies from American politicians — or simple stretched truths — since America was founded. It’s when those lies become dangerous that we have to perk up and take action.

The media has been fact checking presidents long before Donald Trump, but the fact checking went into overdrive in 2016, and has continued non-stop for four years. It’s when fact checking the president becomes a full-time occupation — because most of what he says is untruthful — that we have a major problem. We can’t trust anything he says.

Then there are Republicans in the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives — and trickle-down Republicans in states, counties and localities — who not only enable Trump and his lies, but they help spread them. These people become complicit in any wrongdoing the president musters.

Such was the case on Jan. 6 when a mob broke into the Capitol in Washington, D.C., occupied the building, fought police officers — leading to the death of five people — and forced members of Congress, the vice president, guests and the media into hiding, interrupting the ratification of the 2020 election in favor of Joe Biden. Those Republicans who objected to the election results — agreeing with Trump on baseless accusations of voter fraud, saying the election was stolen from him — are just as guilty as the president in inciting mob violence and an attempted overthrow of the U.S. government.

Their statements of falsehoods — including the ones coming from our own congresswoman, Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-Schuylerville — empowered the mob. Her words, unwavering today more than a week after the coup attempt, are still giving energy to the part of Trump’s base looking for an extended fight — including violence. Some even wore MAGA “civil war” T-shirts with “January 6, 2021” printed on them. Stefanik is helping fuel the fire in the belly of the insurrection beast.

How is this right? It’s not. But what can we do about it, shy of asking her to resign? We can do that. She won’t, but we have the right to ask her. It’s the American way. We have free speech thanks to the U.S. Constitution. And Stefanik has the right to say whatever she wants, even if some of what she says is untruthful. Again, American politicians have been doing this for more than 244 years. Do you think Biden will always tell us the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth? Think again. He’s a politician.

But Stefanik crossed a line with her fellow Republicans who objected to the election results and cited voter fraud. She crossed a line by backing the president no matter what he’s done, enabling him to incite insurrection. We’d like to see her finally back the side of reason and reality, apologize for her role in fanning the flames of mob violence and get out of the Trump camp once and for all. Otherwise, the media will have to spend much of the next two years fact checking her words — because we won’t be able to believe a word she says.