“You have to be trusted by the people that you lie to
So that when they turn their backs on you,
You’ll get the chance to put the knife in.” — Roger Waters
I remember it like it was yesterday. It was the first election that I ever voted in. Obviously, the headliner was Bill Clinton vs. George Bush, but there are always intriguing down ballot races and these are the ones where the most bizarre stories would come from. It was the election where I was introduced to Lena Guerrero.
She had a promising political career for awhile. She served in the Texas Legislature and had been on the Texas Railroad Commission. She was now running to be the head of the Texas Railroad Commission. It’s not an insignificant position. It involves a whole lot more than just trains. She was a Democrat and therefore seemed destined to get my vote.
Unfortunately for her, the news dropped before the election. She said she had a honors degree from the University of Texas. In fact, she had no degree at all. Unlike more recent events, those facts came out before the election. It would be the only race where I explicitly voted against a Democrat. The funny thing is that this is still true to this day.
I don’t know what makes people do these things. It’s not like she simply said she had a degree. She could have listed any institution or none at all. She could have simply said she had a degree and left the rest of the details purposefully vague. Nope. She had to say it was a degree and a degree with honors from the University of Texas. These are easy enough details to check out.
As everyone knows, George Santos is the latest to get caught up in a web of lies. Of course, to call it a web would likely be generous. His lies haven’t even been all that coordinated. The explanations haven’t been that coordinated either. He didn’t get a degree where he said he did. His background in terms of ethnicity and religion has been either falsified out of thin air or tremendously exaggerated. His work history was also falsified. Even the details of his personal life are a work of fiction.
I mention Guerrero for what should be obvious reasons. She was a Democrat. She lied about her education. She had attended UT. She just didn’t graduate. She not only lost the election, but she never participated in politics again. It is easy to make the point that one party lies more than the other. Maybe that’s even true, but that’s not the point of this particular screed. The point is that we deserve better.
The people that represent us in city hall, county court, the state legislature, state offices, and in Washington should be the best among us. They should be made from the finest parts of our national character. It isn’t necessarily about degrees, past positions, or anything else on a resume. We should be able to trust that whatever is on that resume is something you’ve actually done. We should be able to trust that what you say you know and what you say you are good at you are actually good at.
George Santos perpetuated a fraud on the people of his district. Nothing substantive that he has told the voters about himself has turned out to be true. Now, maybe he still wins. We know full well that most voters pull the lever (figuratively) for the party and not the individual. Yet, occasionally something so shameful occurs that people don’t. I didn’t vote for Lena Guerrero and I still wouldn’t.
The remedy in these cases is not as easy as you would think. It isn’t simple enough to simply redo the election. Sure, voters probably would vote differently now that they know the truth, but that sets up a dangerous precedent. When exactly do we know that a fraud has occurred and that it is so egregious that another election should be held? Sure, Kevin McCarthy and the GOP shouldn’t seat him. Yet, they have a very narrow majority and losing even one seat is a bitter pill to swallow. I don’t know the answer for them. I know the status quo is untenable. Maybe they simply don’t give him any committee assignments. The likely result is they just hope we forget. I’ve never forgotten Lena Guerrero. I’m not likely to forget George Santos anytime soon.