By Josh Lafazan
“Make lemonade out of lemons” is a saying ingrained from an early age in students across the country to teach perseverance in the face of adversity. In essence, when we’re faced with a bad situation, we navigate the circumstances to imagine a positive outcome.
When it comes to U.S. Rep. George Santos, it’s far easier to imagine a steady stream of lemon juice squirted directly into our eyes than successfully following this elementary maxim. Each new day seems to bring a new Santos lie with it, one more outrageous than the next. From a fake resume to a fake address to a fake religion and more, Santos remains as defiant as ever in the midst of his fictional masterpiece: the most sophisticated web of lies ever created in the history of American politics.
The good news is that people of good conscience all across New York state’s 3rd Congressional District, regardless of political affiliation, are exasperated by the Talented Mr. Santos, and have had enough. Calls for him to resign ring out from the headquarters of both the Nassau Republicans and county Democrats. But being outraged isn’t a solution to our Santos problem.
Santos is an issue for the nation, but let’s not forget that he is a problem of our local creation. Therefore, the burden lies with us here in the 3rd District not just to destroy Frankenstein’s monster, but also to ensure that the next George Santos is barred from ever getting his, or her, name on the ballot.
In the meantime, what Santos — the long-lost brother of fake German heiress Anna Delvey? — has shown us is that guardrails to prevent charlatans and liars from running for office simply don’t exist in the 21st century.
That’s why I’ve proposed the GEORGE Package here in Nassau County, a series of laws named for Mr. Santos: Get Egregious Officials Removed from Government Elections. It features several proposals to keep people like Santos from ever getting elected in the first place. They include:
• Mandatory background checks for all candidates, just like any employee of any company is subjected to.
• Barring anyone with an open foreign arrest warrant from holding office.
• Making it a misdemeanor for a candidate to lie about his or her education, employment history, address or income sources.
The GEORGE Package would not be a guarantor against politicians lying to get elected. It would, however, offer voters more peace of mind that they have an honest choice between two candidates, and assurance for those voters that if candidates don’t play by the rules, they, like us, will be held accountable.
When James Madison created the framework for the Constitution, never in the wildest dreams of our founders did they envision needing laws like the GEORGE Package on the books. But just as the Constitution is a living document, our governments also must continue to evolve with the times.
And in the age of George Santos, when many politicians take an ends-justify-the-means approach to elevate lies over the truth and perpetrate fraud against the voters in order to win elections, these safeguards are needed now more than ever to protect our democracy.
My hope is that versions of the GEORGE Package pass in Mineola, in Albany and in Washington. If they do, voters across the state will be able to breathe a collective sigh of relief that no matter which candidate wins, no one who is as morally reprehensible as George Santos will be representing them.
Santos may be the lemons, but the GEORGE Package would be our lemonade. Let’s drink up.
Josh Lafazan is a Nassau County legislator representing the 18th District.