Raskin’s Bipartisan Demonstration is Exactly What the U.S. Congress Needs

Photo by The Wrap

New York Representative George Santos has been telling lies for his entire political career, and they are finally catching up to him. In May 2023, Santos was indicted by federal prosecutors on 13 felony counts detailing a myriad of financial crimes. This past October, the Department of Justice released an updated indictment that included 10 new charges against Santos for a total of 23 felony charges

Santos has denied the charges and pleaded not guilty in court, but some members of the House of Representatives remain unconvinced. Several of Santos’s Republican colleagues from New York launched an initiative to expel the freshman congressman from the House. The House voted against his expulsion on Nov. 1 in a 213-179 vote, despite calls from both parties for Santos’s resignation. Although the vote was organized by House Republicans, the majority of Republican Representatives followed new House Speaker Mike Johnson’s lead in opposing or abstaining from the vote in order to hold onto the narrow conservative majority in the chamber. Still, 24 Republicans voted in favor of the expulsion. More surprising, though, were the 31 Democrats who joined Republicans in voting against Santos’s expulsion. The issue divided both parties, marking a divergence from typical party allegiances, which resulted in shockingly strong bipartisan disapproval of the proposed expulsion.

Following the vote, Rep. George Santos sent out a series of copy-paste thank you letters to the Democrats who voted to keep him in office. Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.), one of the 31 Democrats who voted to keep Santos around, was less than impressed with the letter he received. Raskin is a typical run-of-the-mill Democrat. He began his political career as a Maryland senator in 2007 and has largely flown under the radar when it comes to national media attention. According to Raskin, his vote against the Santos expulsion initiative was based on his belief that expelling Santos before his criminal trial (set for Sept. 2024) would set a “terrible precedent” for the House. In the last century, only two congressmen have been expelled from the House, and both expulsions occurred after the men had been convicted of their crimes in federal court. For Raskin, it was not yet the House’s place to condemn Santos.

In his thank you address, Santos acknowledged that Raskin’s vote “was not done for me, but for the sanctity of this institution.” Unfortunately for Santos, his lackluster note was not well received, despite this acknowledgment. After receiving the note, Raskin noticed a series of grammatical and spelling errors, which he corrected by hand. He sent the blue ink-covered letter back to Santos with a few additional notes calling on the New York congressman to resign from his office. 

In his return note, Raskin demonstrated serious frustration with Santos, saying that the congressman “should apologize to the people of New York for all of [his] lies and deceit.” Based on this language, it seems Raskin may have been inclined to oust Santos on a personal level, but instead chose to support what he saw as the morally and legally correct side of the debate. By most accounts, a Santos expulsion would have been a win for the Democratic Party, but as Raskin and even Santos himself have pointed out, the expulsion of a member of Congress based on only alleged crimes would set a poor precedent for future congressional sessions. Such a precedent has the potential to contribute to the institutional erosion of the House of Representatives. 

Raskin’s actions are admirable in so far as they condemn Santos’s actions without actually expelling him from the House. Raskin’s note made his personal feelings clear to Santos, and the publicization of the note made his stance clear to the general public as well. But rather than try to advance his own interests or the interests of his party, Raskin looked ahead to the future and considered what kind of impact his vote would have on precedent and the viability of the House of Representatives. So the lesson here is that party loyalty does not always provide long-term benefits, and politicians and people alike should consider the external ramifications of an action outside of their personal interests. 

With that said, it is time for Rep. George Santos to take another note from Raskin. Rather than consider his own personal interests or the interests of his party, Santos should consider what is best for his constituents, whom he has repeatedly lied to and misrepresented. It is time for Santos to step up and do the right thing: resign. 

This article was edited by Natalia Gaitan and Nicole Kilada