By Jim Toes, STA
People are hardwired to look for any positive outcome from a disappointing event. This tendency to search for silver linings in all kinds of dark clouds helps us recover emotionally and move on from those difficult times having gained wisdom and experience from the lessons learned.
Shortly after Election Day 2022, the New York Times broke a story on lies and misrepresentations made by then-Congressman-elect George Santos. Since then, more falsehoods have been reported and even admitted to by Mr. Santos himself. Despite these acknowledgements, intense media attention and calls from residents of New York’s 3rd congressional district to resign, Mr. Santos was sworn into the 118th Congress on January 4 and is now a United States congressman – a privilege that has only been granted to just over 10,000 people in the 248 years that our nation has existed.
Over the course of my lifetime, there have been many occasions when our political leaders have acted improperly, nefariously and even criminally. My memories of these occurrences start with Watergate, and the list of congressional misdeeds and disappointments since then is long. Relatively speaking, Mr. Santos’ lies are petty and sophomoric. Others before him have done far worse, so we shouldn’t be shocked. Right? Plus, he is only one congressional member among 435 and as such has no real power. No one should care about this fabulist. Right?
As a registered Republican and a lifelong resident of the 3rd district…this one is personal, and as such my reaction was different than if Mr. Santos was from, say, the lost city of Atlantis – which, who knows, may be his next claim.
Well, under most circumstances I would agree, but as a registered Republican and a lifelong resident of the 3rd district, I can’t. Yes, this one is personal, and as such my reaction was different than if Mr. Santos was from, say, the lost city of Atlantis – which, who knows, may be his next claim.
In the six weeks since this scandal broke, I’ve had numerous conversations with neighbors and even attended my first local Nassau County political event. It is becoming clear that two grassroots efforts are forming within our district. One is a unified effort that is based on a desire to correct a mistake and a realization that no help is coming from Washington DC. The removal of Mr. Santos will need to originate at the local level from within the party he duped.
There is also growing unity across the political aisle. Nothing motivates the base of one political party more than an unfortunate event affecting the other. It presents an opportunity to seize power. It also creates a healthy sense of fear as our leaders recognize the event could have just as easily happened to their own party.
Yes, both parties are much more focused on New York’s 3rd district now than they were prior to last Election Day. As a result, our district will have better candidates to choose from in the future – frankly, Mr. Santos’ opponent in the general election did not exactly evoke images of Jimmy Stewart in “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington”.
This is a good outcome from a disappointing event: better candidates, better choices and better results for New York’s 3rd district and for Congress as a whole. In the meantime, our district will muddle through what could be a two-year charade, and the nation will surely survive Mr. Santos. The long-term forecast for my district having a representative who is worthy of its constituents is much brighter now.