U.S. Rep. George Santos Is Product Of Voting Trends

Editor's Corner

U.S. Rep. George Santos, center, is sworn in by Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy as members of the 118th Congress in Washington in January. AP photo

Former U.S. Rep. Chris Lee was immediately embarrassed. Only hours after a photo of the bare-chested Western New York Congressman began appearing on numerous websites, there was no attempt at damage control or any efforts to find an excuse for what happened.

Lee did what was best — for himself, his family and constituents in 2011. He resigned. “The challenges we face in Western New York and across the country are too serious for me to allow this distraction to continue,” he said at the time, “and so I am announcing that I have resigned my seat in Congress effective immediately.”

That scandal of 12 years ago that was tied to an email sent to a woman he met online is a distant memory. Today, a more toxic and divisive political landscape exists that is not always about doing what’s in the best interest of the constituents.

Current U.S. Rep. George Santos of Long Island is an intriguing figure in all this. Since Christmas, he has faced numerous calls to step down as he is facing multiple investigations by prosecutors over his personal and campaign finances and lies about his resume and family background.

His plight has divided the GOP while energizing the Democrats. Within the last month, a handful of state Republicans — including state Chairman and U.S. Rep. Nick Langworthy — have called for Santos to leave office. “I support the Nassau Republicans’ decision today to request the resignation of George Santos,” Langworthy stated in January. “It’s clear that he cannot be an effective representative and it would be in the best interest of taxpayers to have new leadership.”

But Langworthy is not blameless in what has happened. The Buffalo News reported both he and fellow U.S. Rep. Claudia Tenney — who represents another Western New York district — were willing to endorse and contribute to Santos’ campaign in the last year.

Shame on them, but they are both far from the only ones culpable in recent results. In this mess that involves representation, voters are failing themselves, a nation and the regions in which they live.

Information, which is more readily available today than when the Lee impropriety broke or the historic Watergate scandal in 1972, can be ignored or discredited. Powerhouse mediums that include The New York Times, The Washington Post and even The Wall Street Journal are even criticized when reporting on the major dilemmas and issues that impact our country don’t fit a certain narrative.

Add in the echo chambers of social media and voters get what they deserve: a bickering representation filled with loud mouths and a lack of ethics that is allowed by a herd mentality that selects a letter D or R rather than the candidate.

That’s where the dangers have become exacerbated — for both major political affiliations. New York is too blue downstate and overly red upstate.

It is exactly what happened with Santos and Gov. Kathy Hochul downstate. Both individuals — loyal to different parties — won on the basis of affiliation, not by what they stood for or their background.

Liberal policies that drive Albany are alive and well right here in what is supposed to be a conservative Chautauqua County. How else do you explain the supposed fiscally conservative Republicans here adding 200 jobs in Mayville since the selling of the Chautauqua County Home while riding the wave of higher property values and stimulus funding?

Voters who consistently lean right here on Election Day need to do a serious evaluation of who they are putting in office. There may be a cry of inflation being driven by the Democrats in Washington and Albany, but our local Republican team has no problem adding to payrolls and increasing taxes during this tight time when its state party leaders are crying over “tax and spend policies” in Albany.

Neither side is getting the job done. Even scarier are inferior candidates who are being elected. Santos is a heaping mess — but high-ranking Republicans and the constituency in Nassau County gave his fibbing ways credibility.

Democrats are just as guilty. They allowed Eliot Spitzer to gain tremendous power as state attorney general and governor only to watch him become embroiled in a prostitution ring that led to his resignation.

An informed electorate is supposed to drive our democracy. But the lack of knowledge and data by those going to the polls about those running for office and the important issues have simplified a complex process that has allowed Pinocchios, such as Santos, to gain office.

Last month, that same troubled man was allowed to take the oath of office in the House of Representatives. It reads, “I … solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion, and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter. So help me God.”

Politics, especially within all parties, remains a spoils system. What Santos did was rotten. Party leaders and voters, by not investigating or questioning his past, empowered him to become a member of what is supposed to be select company for 435 people.

That is downright lazy.

John D’Agostino is the editor of The Post-Journal, OBSERVER and Times Observer in Warren, Pa. Send comments to jdagostino@observertoday.com or call 716-366-3000, ext. 253.


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