Red flags will always be there if you pay close enough attention. In the case of George Santos, the red flags were revealed long before his election but simply ignored by too many people. Former House Speaker Kevin McCarthy told reporters: “I always had a few questions about Santos’ résumé.”
Ultimately, McCarthy would need every vote he could get to become House speaker, including the vote from the problematic New York freshman. The congressman, who represents parts of Queens and Long Island, now faces a 23-count federal indictment. After the recent release of the House Ethics Committee findings, evidence shows that Santos converted campaign donations for his personal use.
“The evidence uncovered in the Ethics Committee’s Investigative Subcommittee investigation is more than sufficient to warrant punishment and the most appropriate punishment is expulsion,” said Rep. Michael Guest, the Republican Committee chairman from Mississippi. MAGA Republicans do know corruption when they see it—they just don’t always choose to act on it. Before the 2020 election, the Santos campaign hired an outside research firm to provide an internal vulnerability report detailing aspects of the candidate’s past.
Such reports are typically used in the early stages of a campaign when candidates are preparing for potential attacks from their opponents. The report on Santos included questions that surfaced about his marriage, his family’s link to the Holocaust, and alleged ties to “companies that have been accused of fraud and scamming customers.”
The report’s conclusions were circulated among campaign strategists for top House Republicans and were so condemning that several campaign aides urged Santos to drop out of the race. When he refused, his own aides resigned. Nassau County Republicans are upset and united in calling for Santos’ resignation. The subject has become such a major embarrassment to constituents in New York and members of the nation’s highest legislative body.
When former Rep. Tom Suozzi announced he would not seek re-election for New York’s 3rd Congressional District, Santos defeated Richard Zimmer by eight points, thus denying Democrats the opportunity to hold the House seat in a reliably Democratic district. It became a classic example of Democrats sleeping at the wheel by taking the Santos campaign (and voters) for granted.
While the Democrats assembled their own opposition research before the 2020 election, it missed the most damaging details in Santos’ backstory and credentials. In the case of the 2024 election, we are beyond the red flag warnings regarding election deniers who led efforts to overturn the 2020 presidential election result and refused to accept President Biden’s victory.
The danger they pose has consistently been made clear to the American public when election deniers were committed to decertifying election results, remaining steadfast in promoting baseless and debunked theories, falsely claiming that President Biden’s election was stolen, and opposing the counting of Biden’s electoral college votes. The question remains: will enough voters, particularly in deeply competitive races, still care about the events of Jan. 6 and its long-term consequences when considering important issues such as the economy, the Israel-Hamas war, and the southern border?
Will Black and Latino voters forget that attempts to overturn election results were targeted toward their communities and can likely happen again? As we are approximately 12 months away, the 2024 elections will determine the future control of the White House, U.S. House of Representatives, U.S. Senate, and various state houses nationally. Voters must stay informed and engaged without ignoring the critical facts and testimonies from the Jan. 6 House Select Committee. We cannot afford to be asleep at the wheel by not making Jan. 6 a crucial general election issue while remembering the images of rioters storming the U.S. Capitol.
We are fully aware that Republican lawmakers, along with their voters, recognize a corrupt and scandal-plagued politician when they see one. Unfortunately, they often ignore the lies and deceit if it becomes politically advantageous and serves the interests of their culture wars. When they can get away with not holding corruption accountable, the nation pays a heavy price in rebuilding the trust in democracy and various institutions.
Understandably, people are getting nervous and upset over the economy, but the stakes are extremely high when election deniers go unchecked. For all the warning signs facing President Biden, apathy and skepticism from young voters are major concerns. Young people are a valuable voting bloc for Democrats, and their votes and voices should never be taken for granted. They, too, must be mindful of the consequences and be determined to turn out without apathy. A spokesman for the Biden campaign called the election “deeply consequential for young people” and pledged to build on a strong turnout from younger voters in the 2022 midterm elections.
This can be a challenge going into next year. Some of the Biden administration’s biggest accomplishments, such as infrastructure funding and lowering prescription drug prices, don’t necessarily resonate as much with younger voters. On the other hand, childcare, affordable housing, and student loans are bigger priorities for them. The attack on the U.S. Capitol has changed everything.
In the foreseeable future, the primary issue on voting ballots is not “Bidenomics” or the southern border crisis but rather election deniers and their willingness to overturn any democratically held election they believe was ‘stolen.’
(David W. Marshall is the founder of the faith-based organization, TRB: The Reconciled Body, and author of the book God Bless Our DividedAmerica. He can be reached at <www.davidwmarshallauthor.com>.)