Chris Stewart is Parked in the Wrong Space | Opinion | Salt Lake City Weekly
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Chris Stewart is Parked in the Wrong Space

Taking a Gander: Call the tow truck



When the Americans with Disabilities Act was passed in 1990, it was a leap in the right direction, forcing government and businesses to recognize that people with disabilities should be assured of convenient access to public and commercial facilities. Consequently, Utah's Department of Motor Vehicles is not just in the business of issuing license plates. It is also essential in ensuring that the disabled can find good parking. The blue tags with the stylized white wheelchair have become a common sight—a compassionate touch for the special needs of our less-fortunate citizens.

Now, nothing irks me more than a person who pulls into a disabled "permit only" space and sprints into the store for a frozen pizza and a case of beer. Those who abuse the system have no excuse, because each handicap space, taken by an imposter, displaces someone else who actually needs it. It's one of my pet-peeves.

When I see the thoughtless and selfish cheating the system, I take a moment to visualize what the consequences would likely be under some of the world's harsher regimes. For instance, under radical-Islamic Sharia law, a system which mandates severe and permanent punishments for offenders, there are swift sentences and penalties—like chopping off the pedal-foot or, for serial offenders, a ritual beheading in the town square, complete with popcorn and hotdogs (all beef, of course). Sadly, the draconian punishments would explode the number of handicap parking permits.

While "firm" drivers may occasionally steal spaces designated for the "infirm," Utah also has a huge problem with legislators "parking" where they shouldn't be and exceeding their stays. This isn't about healthy people stealing the spaces; this is about how the morally-disabled park themselves in positions of importance and trust—and how they scratch, pummel and claw to retain another term in their legislative seats. Sadly, some of our legislators are flying the flag of an enemy who sought to dismantle America's most essential institutions.

Take, for instance, the sad case of our 2nd District congressman, Rep. Chris Stewart (R). Though his isn't a physical disability, he, none-the-less, is missing some of his most essential parts. During his time in elected office, he has consistently demonstrated that he is a moral cripple—taking up a parking space and disregarding the white lines.

Chris Stewart's voting record is a betrayal of those who gave him their vote. It is very strange to see him—a decorated ex-Air Force officer, businessman, and author of multiple best-selling books extolling the greatness of America and asserting how we can save it—doing so much that is "unbecoming an officer." He's a man who has taken more than one oath to represent and defend our country, but he is, at best, a sorry excuse for a congressman. Simply said, he's parked in a space where he doesn't belong.

As a military officer, he swore to defend our soil and our Constitution. I took that same oath when I graduated from Officer Candidate School, and I remember the words clearly—that I was making a promise to "support and defend the Constitution of the United States of America against all enemies, foreign and domestic. Stewart took an additional oath when he took his congressional seat; he stood there with his wife, children, and constituents as witnesses and once again swore allegiance and dedication to his country.

Stewart has shown Utahns that his allegiance cannot be trusted. Instead of defending against "all enemies, foreign and domestic," by definition, he is one of them. He certainly knew, when he began his indefensible acts of Trump-driven cowardice, that he could not do so, and at the same time, keep his soul.

Stewart has dishonored the Constitution, shown that he has no respect for the rule of law, and spoken and acted to undermine our democracy by giving his support to a would-be dictator. Frankly, his performance has been a horrific abdication of his responsibility—to be a loyal and valiant defender of all that makes America great. He has failed his patriotic duty.

Whatever credibility or integrity voters believed Stewart possessed, his voting record should strike fear into our hearts: he was one of the traitors who refused to confirm Biden's win in swing states; he's accused the January 6 committee of being pure "political theater," minimalizing the worst assault on our democracy since the Civil War; he supported the Republican Party's punitive denouncement of Liz Cheney—who showed remarkable courage and integrity; and he disrespected our essential rule-of-law when he voted against holding Steve Bannon in contempt of Congress. (Keep in mind: Bannon was an inner-circle player in the January 6 insurrection, asserting, the previous day, that "All Hell" would break loose.) Stewart's latest act of treasonous cowardice was to oppose Bannon's criminal consequences. Without rule of law, our country has nothing, yet Stewart treats it as a joke.

In a nutshell, Chris Stewart is parked in the wrong space and that must end. He's followed an all-too-familiar political route. Though he probably started out as a patriotic idealist, he's traded his character for what he sees as a permanent place as one of our country's lawmakers—selling out to the evils that threaten our nation. Stewart once referred to Trump as "America's Mussolini." Where did that Chris Stewart go?

Let's face it: There are no armless firemen or policemen serving our communities—that simply wouldn't work. It's also essential to require that our congressmen and senators have both minds and consciences. If we're to preserve our great nation, we must face our national threats. Stewart is one of them. Voting him out is an important step in protecting the things we love. Utahns trusted him, but he is not that man. It is time to call the tow-truck and remove him from his spot.

The author is a retired businessman, novelist, columnist, and former Vietnam-era Army assistant public information officer. He resides in Riverton with his wife, Carol, and the beloved ashes of their mongrel dog.