Lewis: Fair game
Imagine that you are the head coach of a college sports team. You have heard rumors that your star player was out drinking over the weekend. You have told your players that there will be no drinking during the season, and, for the first offense, the player will be suspended for one game minimum. No exceptions.
You call the player into your office, and he admits that he was drinking. Per your rules, you should suspend the player for the next game, but it is a home game against your division rivals. You have lost the previous five years running and you have a good chance of winning but only with your star player. You are the coach, so you have complete control of the decision. What do you do?
This scenario reminds me of the current situation in Congress with George Santos. Simply put, Santos is a complete fraud like Elizabeth Holmes or Sam Bankman-Fried. I think he is actually worse — as at least Holmes and Bankman-Fried were fraudulent partially because they believed in their companies. For Santos, it was all for himself and personal gain.
To characterize what he did as “an exaggeration” is like describing Bernie Madoff as a borrower of other people’s money — ridiculous. Santos lied about his education, work experience, philanthropy and even his race to get elected to Congress. That is election fraud pure and simple.
Based on a simple comparison, the appropriate punishment is not censure or some slap on the wrist. A man in Florida who thought he was allowed to vote but wasn’t (because he was on parole and still serving a felony sentence) was sentenced to one year in prison for registering to vote even though his crime was unintentional. By that standard, Santos should be sentenced to life without parole for election fraud of this scale.
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To me, it is pretty clear that the only reason Santos is still roaming the halls of Congress is that he is needed on the team (the Republican majority) so they can win “the game” so to speak. I think, however, that in allowing him to remain, Republicans are making a very poor decision, one that will hurt them immensely down the road.
All of us have an innate desire for fairness. It is something that we understand and embrace, even as young as 12 months. Everyone’s definition of fairness may not be the same, but it is something that we all view as important. Fairness is not about everyone getting the same benefits or rewards. It is about having a set of rules and ethical standards that create a fair playing field, giving everyone the opportunity for success.
Just like the coach in my fictional situation, Kevin McCarthy has a choice to make. Since the Republicans control Congress, they can choose to ignore his transgressions and keep Santos. This clearly helps them maintain their slim majority. The question is — at what cost?
If you, as the imagined coach, were to break your own rules and allow the star player to play in that next game you might win the game, but you also would show the other members of the team that you lack values and show your competitors that you are willing to break the rules to win.
If McCarthy and the Republicans elect to keep Santos, then virtually any investigation they elect to do against the Democrats (like Hunter Biden) becomes tainted. If they refuse to enforce the rules for such flagrant fraud for one of their own, how can anyone assume that any other hearings are anything more than a vindictive witch hunt?
The concept of fair play and fairness is very clear in this case. If Republicans want to be viewed as fair and ethical, then Santos has to go.
Mark Lewis, a Colorado native, had a long career in technology, including serving as the CEO of several tech companies. He retired from technology last year and is now writing thriller novels. Mark and his wife, Lisa, and their two Australian Shepherds — Kismet and Cowboy, reside in Edwards.