The U.S. Capitol on Wednesday was the site of an insurrection.
Moments before attackers stormed the building, Republican gun enthusiast and freshman Colorado Rep. Lauren Boebert gave her first-ever speech on the floor of the U.S. House. She started with an attempt at humor involving a person being shot dead — “To ease everyone’s nerve, I want you to all know that I am not here to challenge anyone to a duel like Alexander Hamilton or Aaron Burr.” Then she tried to overturn the presidential election by objecting to the electoral votes from Arizona.
Boebert and the mob had the same goal: a coup. The kind of false message she has spread since Nov. 3 about Joe Biden’s win being illegitimate is exactly what inspired Wednesday’s lawlessness. Boebert bears responsibility for the insurrection. “I have constituents outside this building right now. I promised my voters to be their voice,” she said in her speech, even as those constituents forced their way toward the floor in the worst breach of Capitol security since 1814.
The occasion for the Capitol siege was a joint session of Congress, at which lawmakers gathered to certify results from the Electoral College. Biden won, but President Donald Trump and his supporters for weeks have promoted lies about the election being fraudulent. He and his supporters have filed 62 lawsuits challenging election results in Pennsylvania, Arizona, Georgia and other battleground states. All but one failed, and none demonstrated widespread fraud. Even former attorney general and Trump ally Bill Barr affirmed that widespread voter fraud did not occur.
But that has not prevented Republican extremists from circulating disinformation in an unprecedented assault on democracy and an attempt to cancel the will of American voters. All three Republican members of the Colorado congressional delegation joined this ignominious project. Now that their constitutional vandalism has led to violence and the occupation of the Capitol, they should be treated as toxic to the republic.
Of the three, Boebert, a 33-year-old freshman who on Wednesday had been in elected office all of four days, is the most radical and vocal in her efforts to toss the results of a free and fair election. The entirety of her campaign was blind support of Trump and Second Amendment fanaticism. She was the first of the Colorado Republicans to announce that she planned to object to electoral votes. On more than one occasion she has alluded to violent means of achieving political results. “I am the militia,” she tweeted in June. On Wednesday morning she tweeted, “Today is 1776.”
She was one of 121 seditious Republicans who, even after the violent takeover of the Capitol, still voted to reject Arizona’s electoral votes. Another was Rep. Doug Lamborn. And both were later among 138 House Republicans who also objected to electoral votes from Pennsylvania. In announcing on Monday that he planned to object to electoral votes, Lamborn recklessly referred to “serious irregularities and improprieties marring the 2020 general election.” Such rhetoric was the very fuel that propelled domestic terrorists through the Capitol barricades on Wednesday. He, too, bears responsibility for the insurrection.
Rep. Ken Buck opposed the effort to object to electoral votes on Wednesday. But he has perpetuated baseless claims of election fraud, and he and Lamborn were among the more than half of House Republicans who joined the offensive lawsuit brought by Texas at the Supreme Court that sought to eliminate the vote in four battleground states. Buck also bears responsibility for the insurrection.
Every Republican member of Congress except Sen. Mitt Romney supported Trump through impeachment even as his corruption was demonstrated beyond doubt, and the Republican Party as a whole is complicit in this calamitous presidency. But the members who, beyond defending Trump, amplified disinformation about the election and served as agents of his authoritarianism deserve the scorn of every American. This includes the three Republican members of the Colorado congressional delegation.
At issue is not a point of politics. The very form of American politics is at stake. The nation either sustains the freedoms and privileges of government by the people or it surrenders to the despotic forces arrayed on Trump’s behalf. Boebert, Buck and Lamborn have made clear whose side they’re on.
Early Thursday, the joint session of Congress finally certified Biden as the next president. Trump will leave office Jan. 20, if not sooner. But the danger and dishonor of Trumpism will remain part of Colorado’s political life so long as Boebert, Buck and Lamborn remain in office. And when they, too, are gone, the disgrace they’ve earned in service to America’s worst president will define their legacy.