BY CHARLES LAVINE
“The fault . . . is not in our stars,
But in ourselves. Julius Caesar, Act I, Scene II
The continuing George Santos saga reminds me of the old saying that “the best place to hide is in a crowd.”
Santos was an integral part of the Republican team during its fabricated fear-based campaign. Manufactured entirely out of ‘whole cloth,’ the GOP portrayed Long Island as a dystopian society.
It was a fictitious narrative, yet another Willie Horton-style dog whistle. Pushed by Republicans nationally, this appeal grew exponentially in the final weeks before the election, a page ripped out of Donald J. Trump’s playbook.
In large measure, it succeeded on Long Island.
While there are many reasons for the Republican victories in Suffolk and Nassau counties, the fact remains that Long Island is one of the safest places to live.
US News and World Report named Nassau as the safest county in the United States in 2020, 2021 and 2022. CrimeGrade.org rates Suffolk County as A+, its best and most prestigious ranking.
According to Money Magazine, my hometown of Glen Cove is one of the best places to live in the United States.
The tissue of lies about crime was deliberately designed to hide that truth. In so artificial an environment of falseness and cynicism, it became easy for a prevaricator like George Santos to seem almost normal.
He just didn’t appear to be so different from his Republican confederates as they propagandized false claims about crime. Santos found that he could best hide his cryptic nature while deep inside the Republican crowd.
Simply put, as Trumpers they were all so ‘over the top’ that he appeared anything but unusual.
Pundits and journalists will now try to find someone to blame for this seemingly aberrational candidate.
What I suggest, however, is that Santos never appeared to be the odd duck floating in the Republican pond. Anyone following the campaign knew that he claimed to have been among the torch and pitchfork-wielding crowd in our Capitol on Jan. 6, boasting that he paid legal expenses for those arrested.
Instead, however, of being rejected by the Republican Party, he was enabled and protected.
With the election behind us, the question of who is to blame becomes a safe game to play. And so many can be faulted. Santos was never vetted by the state or county Republican parties.
Perhaps his support of the January 6 insurrection served as a shiny badge of honor. Maybe the Democrats should be faulted at the national, state and county levels. Or it could be the fault of the media for its failure to mount costly independent investigations.
The real answer, however, is much more problematic, troubling, and challenging. The decision to elect him was made by the voters of the Third Congressional District. While the weight of that mistake must be borne by his supporters, the rest of us are paying the unenviable price of being represented by an embarrassing clown.
All of us, those in the 3rd Congressional District and those in the rest of the country, must acknowledge that American voters need to play a greater role in our political process and must independently research and analyze the backgrounds and character of those who run for office.
While this will surely be complicated and anything but easy, the fate of American Democracy, as always, rests squarely on the shoulders of our voters.
After all, as the noted Swiss historian Jacob Burckhardt said a century and a half ago, “The essence of tyranny is the denial of complexity.”