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.”
The Santos lies are confounding, but all Dems did were run abortion ads. The crime issue gained traction because of the poorly executed bail “reform” law. New York City is right next to Long Island and many of us work and entertain there. New York State doesn’t have a red wave in contrast to national trends over falsehoods, people feel their quality of life decline thanks to Dem policy changes.
Good story but you forgot to mention the NYS Board of Elections. They admit they dont even check a Candidate to see if he lives at address on his Petition.
I agree wholeheartedly with Assemblyman Lavine: “American voters need to play a greater role in our political process.” To that end, we must all—individually and collectively—overcome our political passivity and resignation.
To that end: 1) I registered as a Democrat immediately after the 2016 election, having been a liberal/progressive independent voter for 50 years; 2) I marched in the January 2017 Women’s March in Washington, DC; 3) I became a founding member of a local Democratic club, along with my 100 or so fellow-marchers, as the best means and venue to effectively channel opposition to the Trump/GOP regressive, totalitarian, anti-democratic and racist social and political agenda, as well as to recruit progressive-minded volunteers, activists and candidates.
Our club’s stated purpose is: “to help elect people to government to effect progressive change.” Sadly, we’ve never discussed “progressive change” with each other or with our elected representatives, nor how they or we can actually “effect progressive change.” We have no agenda. We do not meet. We do not offer any kind of forum to inform each other and be informed—ideally even be inspired—by our Democratic leaders and representatives. We never discuss relevant, timely and urgent concerns, issues and developments that pose existential threats to our government, institutions, democracy, human and civil rights, environment, national security and to our elections themselves—much less brainstorm strategies for overcoming those threats. In other words, we are not doing what we envisioned when we founded our Democratic club.
Now, more urgently than ever, Americans, Democrats, progressives, clubs and political leaders everywhere must heed Assemblyman Lavine’s advice: “To play a greater role in our political process,” i.e., to meet and engage in informational, analytical, constructive and motivational political discourse pertinent to our national crisis as much and as often as possible, to inform, be informed, talk, strategize and brainstorm to keep alive and actively channel progressive energy and dedication in the face of our American democracy’s existential crisis—unprecedented in my lifetime—even if only to research and clarify facts and be able to articulate them.
If Americans, progressives and political leaders, at all levels, do not actively, constructively tap into and inspire the energy and volunteerism offered by young people and ordinary people—those politically active and those never politically active—we will lose them. I hope it’s not too late.