Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland speaks during a visit to Grand Junction on July 23, 2021. Listening, from left, are Sen. Michael Bennet, Reps. Lauren Boebert and Joe Neguse, Gov. Jared Polis and Sen. John Hickenlooper. (Sharon Sullivan for Colorado Newsline)
Some of the photos from Interior Secretary Deb Haaland’s visit to Grand Junction last week made the rounds because they illustrated how out of place Rep. Lauren Boebert appeared. There was the freshman Republican, who seems to believe she was elected to Congress for the sole purpose of antagonizing the left, trying to fit in with the all-Democrat contingent of Haaland, Gov. Jared Polis, Sens. Michael Bennet and John Hickenlooper, and Rep. Joe Neguse. One image from the event, which went viral because people found it humorous, captured Boebert speaking at a podium as each Democrat behind her grimaced.
Except it really wasn’t funny at all. Boebert wasn’t merely out of place. She had no place being there.
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Why did the Democrats think it was OK to stand shoulder to shoulder with Boebert? How did they determine it was appropriate to share a stage with her? How did they conclude that Boebert, serial propagator of disinformation, was eligible for a turn at the mic?
Let’s recall who we’re talking about. Lauren Boebert is a seditionist. She — more than any Coloradan — spread falsehoods about the November election. She called it fraudulent and fomented the forces of insurrection. A Trump bootlicker, Boebert repeated every big-lie fiction the former president invented, and this noted gun zealot started making veiled threats of political violence as early as December.
Then came Jan. 6. As a pro-Trump mob was overrunning security at the U.S. Capitol, Boebert was inside the building giving a speech in which she boasted, “I have constituents outside this building right now,” only hours after she tweeted, “Today is 1776.” Later that day, even after people died during the attack, Boebert voted to overturn election results.
She persists in democracy-despising behavior. Only two days before Haaland’s visit, Boebert was on Twitter demanding better treatment for the Jan. 6 suspects. As recently as July 16 she was disseminating disinformation about the election in Arizona. She should not be made to feel welcome anywhere in America where democracy is still valued.
This is not about some policy disagreement, or even extreme differences of political opinion. This is about the rule of law and the survival of American institutions of government. There is no ambiguity about where Boebert stands. She is an authoritarian who genuflects to the authoritarian former president, and she accepts elections only when they produce the results she prefers. She played an unapologetic and active role in stirring followers to a violent attack on the U.S. Capitol. This should disqualify her from the company of honest leaders.
Haaland and the Democratic members of the Colorado delegation must have anticipated that being photographed with Boebert would create awkward optics. Maybe they decided that if they barred Boebert from the Grand Junction event, in her own district, that would have become the day’s main story.
They should have risked it. Instead they sent the message: “She’s one of us.”
That is a lapse in judgment. It is offensive to the brave police officers who defended the Capitol during the attack. And it is a further obstacle to defeating the anti-democratic forces that jeopardize the nation.
Reputable officials have a responsibility to shun disreputable ones when the occasion demands. Just this month, El Paso County Commissioner Holly Williams told Newsline she would not attend a fundraiser where Georgia Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, a QAnon enthusiast who has indicated approval for violence against Democratic politicians, is the headline speaker, because Greene, Williams said, “is not a speaker I am interested in hearing.” It was customary for his colleagues to avoid the racist former Iowa Rep. Steve King.
Boebert has earned similar ostracism.
In December, in a commentary about “subversive acts” and the metastasizing movement on the right to cancel Biden’s win, I wrote, “The duty of Coloradans is to ensure that subversion and sedition, of the forms committed by Republicans in their mission to scratch the election, comes with a cost.” I noted that “Boebert hasn’t even been sworn in yet, but already she has abused her position. Her efforts to undo a legitimate election bring disrepute to all Colorado and represent a danger to the whole country.” And I added, “The false GOP election-fraud narrative escalates the threat of violence.”
Less than four weeks later a pro-Trump mob sacked the Capitol.
Boebert helped fuel the violence. Her actions today could fuel future violence. She long ago forfeited a right to stand with leaders of good faith.
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