Merry belated Christmas and a happy, happy upcoming new year. I hope you had as great of a holiday as I did. It wasn’t perfect. We had some family members with covid, some get into car accidents, some who were traveling around the time that storm hit, but everyone, thankfully, is doing better and getting where they need to, which in itself is a Christmas miracle better than anything that was under the tree.
You may have noticed that the Concurrent has been a little quiet lately. I never posted the last column to Facebook, which reduced its readership ten-fold, more on that soon, and I took Christmas off. This is because there’s ch-ch-changes coming to the Concurrent, which is going to be our topic today. If you don’t make it to the end of the show today, maybe you’re listening in the car and get to where you’re going or finish a chore early and shut this off, let me start by wishing you a happy new year and thanking you for the support in 2022 - I mean that.
To begin telling you what changes are coming, we have to first start in Long Island, New York, former home of Chronicle publisher emeritus Gerry Mulligan and current home of Congressman-elect George Santos. This 34-year-old who will take his office next year was the first openly gay Republican elected to the US House as a non-incumbent, more on that in a second, because he’s taken a lot of heat during this winter storm for a host of wild reasons.
Santos recently retracted several parts of his personal information that he campaigned on including that he worked for investment firm giant Goldman Sachs and that he graduated from college. Neither of these turned out to be true, he worked for a much smaller company that did business with Goldman and attended but never graduated with a degree from a college.
Okay, so he exaggerated his resume. Mine says I’m proficient in Microsoft Excel and know Photoshop. But of course, it doesn’t end there. He also had to back up claims that he was Jewish by stating that he was in fact Catholic but one of his grandmothers was Jewish. His expl;anation for the error was beyond fantastic for grammar nerds like me and probably you. He said he forgot a hyphen in his website copy, so instead of saying he was Jewish, it should have said he was Jew-ish. Jew, dash, ish. Seriously. That was his excuse.
If he’s willing to lie about his religion, some are now - and probably rightfully so - calling into question his sexual orientation. Up until 2017, Santos was a heterosexually married man then in the span of three years, got divorced, married a man then ran unsuccessfully for congress in 2020 before winning this time around - just another reason to blame Joe Biden.
There are two things about this story that help set up the changes that are coming to the Concurrent. The first is a quote from Santos buried near the end of a New York Post story on the matter which I think sums up the media industry as a whole but that now bleeds over into politics. When asked if he was going to resign since he lied about pretty much everything, Santos said absolutely not, leading with “I’m not a criminal” which is not what I would go with as it’s strikingly reminiscent of disgraced President Richard Nixon’s I’m not a crook shortly before it came out that he was a crook, but he also said this. I want you to really chew on this. He said, “I campaigned talking about the people’s concerns, not my resume.” W-w-What!?
I campaigned talking about the people’s concerns, not my resume highlights something that was the topic of the Concurrent most of this year. Do we elect our leaders to be the reflection of the people’s voice or do we elect them to make their own decisions? Santos is the poster child of the former, he’s saying, of course it doesn’t matter who I am, you elect me for what I can do for you.
That is the epitome “voice of the people” mindset. And to see it in such a raw form reveals just how absurd it is. About every six years or so you’ll get a city council member somewhere in America who will run in a predominately Black district and use a bunch of stock photos of Black people instead of his own photo and then the district is shocked when they find out they elected a white guy. And they should be! Race doesn’t matter in how you do the job, but who you elect does and openly deceitful tricks should not be tolerated.
But it reflecting the voice of the people does need to be part of it and in eastern New York, it clearly plays a huge role, as I believe it does here too in Citrus. And that’s where I’ve been failing. I’m still going to speak my mind but instead of doing so every Thursday and Sunday as has been the case for two years, I’m instead going to focus more on audio content like these podcasts, which will be much more frequent. I’ll still post the transcripts if you love to read and I’ll still write a column as news arises and needs to be put into context, but the majority of the written content in 2023 will come from the community. It will be a reflection of the voice of the people.
Let’s talk the second change still using the Santos example. As mentioned, the New York Post was one publication to absolutely obliterate Santos as a liar and deceiver. The New York Post is owned by the Murdoch family who also owns Fox News, broke the Hunter Biden laptop story and is right-leaning in almost all of its coverage. So why break rank here?
The answer is what the Concurrent will try harder to focus on in 2023. People need to know not only what you stand for but also what you stand against. The easiest way to do this is to do so on a right/left political spectrum, I’m for everything conservative and against the liberal socialists destroying our country! But then you get times, infrequent as they may be in comparison, when people on the Right misbehave much like the Santos case.
That’s why a much better approach than being left or right is to be for sanity and against the absurd. That doesn’t mean I can’t pick a fight every now and again. I’m sure I’ll be challenging Mike Wright’s casual association with journalistic ethics or the Chronicle’s editorial board’s tendency to make claims without evidence. But those are going to be attacking the processes, not the people. Don’t get me wrong, I want to challenge the people too, but that looks much more like racing Jeff Bryan in a 5k - I’m about 10 years younger but he’s much faster right now - or even Jazzercising the shhhhhhoelaces off my feet with Trina Murphy, a popular fitness instructor extraordinaire in addition to her moonlighting as publisher of the Chronicle. And with Mike Wright, I don’t know, maybe we’ll challenge to see who can make the best lemonade or something.
People need enemies. They need teams. They need to build in-groups and out-groups, some call it tribal as a negative, but it doesn’t have to be. We can be a team that is for getting smarter and against acting dumber. We can challenge others directly without the intention of demeaning them. That’s what we aim to do in 2023. I don’t know about you, but I can’t wait.