While the ouster of George Santos from the United States House of Representatives has been touted as “historic”, the fact that it took several attempts to get his fellow lawmakers to agree ~ by the required two-thirds majority ~ to his expulsion is testament as much to the thick skin of elected representatives as it is to the fault lines in a system that allowed him to reach where he did. Santos, from all accounts, was a complete fraud ~ he had lied about his education, his religion, his personal history and his professional credentials. In 2011, Santos had admitted to committing a cheque fraud in Brazil. He had several adverse judgments in American courts against evictions and personal debts. And, yet riding the coat-tails of former President Donald Trump, Santos had contested his first Congressional election in 2020 from New York. He lost that election, and like his mentor, refused to accept the result claiming the vote had been manipulated.
He contested again in 2022, and won this time with an eight per cent margin; the victory enabling the Republicans to gain control of the House with a tiny majority. And yet, through the 2022 campaign, questions were raised about various aspects of Santos’ personal and professional life, but apparently these did not cut ice with voters. It was only this year that two federal indictments charged Santos with 23 counts of fraud, charges that he has denied. But despite this, the Republicans were keen on rescuing Santos, not the least because of the slender majority they hold in the House. Two attempts were made to expel him, but failed, when the required numbers could not be cobbled up. One Republican Congressman, Matt Gaetz, rose up in his defense even a couple of days ago to say, “Since the beginning of Congress, there’s only two ways you get expelled: You get convicted of a crime, or you participated in the Civil War. Neither apply to George Santos.”
It was only after a Congressional ethics investigation found “overwhelming evidence” of misconduct and accused him of fraudulently exploiting “every aspect of his House candidacy” that a sufficient number of his party colleagues opted to vote against him. Now characterized as a “liar”, a “crook” and a man “divorced from reality”, Santos has finally got the boot. But the fact that a man known to have lied about almost everything ~ from false claims of being Jewish to having been a college volleyball star and a former Goldman Sachs employee ~ to have reached where he did suggests there are serious problems with the way America chooses its representatives, and ultimately with the credibility of its democratic processes. And to think it is this country that preaches democracy to the