Shelter Island Reporter editorial: Standing up

This page has often been at odds with Congressman Lee Zeldin (R-Shirley), but not always.

In August, we praised Mr. Zeldin’s important work passing legislation to get federal aid to help save Reel Point, which protects Coecles Harbor and the properties that surround it. In addition, the harbor helps many Island baymen who depend on it for part of their livelihoods.

We also cheered when Mr. Zeldin opposed an atrocious tax bill that presented a bouquet to billionaires, Wall Street and large corporations, and specifically hurt taxpayers in New York, who will be unable to deduct their state and local taxes when they file federal returns.

When we disagreed with Mr. Zeldin, we did so with respect. But now, that’s strained in light of the congressman putting his name and reputation on a document that encouraged an attempt to overturn a free and fair election because Donald Trump can’t accept losing.

What happened on Nov. 3 was the normal process of an American election: A vote is held, votes are counted, absentee ballots are tallied and the results certified. The winner is proclaimed, the loser concedes.

That has been the Constitutional process in this republic since 1789.

Last week, 126 House Republicans took a step that blew that up. They joined a lawsuit filed by the Texas attorney general (who is under federal investigation in a securities case) to nullify the votes in Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin and Georgia — all states won — recounted and certified — by Mr. Biden. Mr. Zeldin was among those die-hard Trump supporters who signed on.

He has shown his devotion to the president in many different ways in the past four years, but this action went well beyond ordinary fealty. Here, we had one state trying to throw out the legal votes in four other states and thus “overturn” — in the language of the president — the vote for Mr. Biden. Nothing even close to this has happened in our country’s history of elections.

The U.S. Supreme Court summarily dismissed the suit.

Mr. Zeldin’s actions, along with his cowardly colleagues, would be pathetic if it wasn’t so dangerous. Moronic thugs threatened election officials and their families with violence — Republican and Democrat alike — because Donald Trump is jacking them up with asinine claims of fraud.

It’s not media outlets who are disputing these claims, it’s the American judicial system, which has dismissed out-of-hand the cases brought before it. Three of the president’s picks to sit on the highest court in the land, along with their colleagues, decided this last venture was so absurd it didn’t deserve a hearing.

And Mr. Zeldin signed up for a ride on this crazy train.

It’s a shame that he doesn’t have the courage of his Republican conservative colleague Rep. Adam Kinzinger of Illinois, who has said, “Our party needs to be better than giving credence to these insane conspiracy theories.”

Discussing what will happen to his party in the future, Mr. Kinzinger said: “When you end up where principles don’t matter, beliefs don’t matter, it’s just about who can be the loudest and maintain power through raw anger and aggression …” And speaking to his GOP colleagues who support baseless claims: “We’ve lost our moral authority to be outraged.”