Republican U.S. Rep. Lauren Boebert of Colorado speaks during a debate against Republican Colorado state Sen. Don Coram at the Sky Ute Resort and Casino in Ignacio on May 26, 2022. (William Woody for Colorado Newsline)
Colorado Democrats have been so consumed with celebrating their abundant success and historic claim on power after last month’s midterm elections that scant attention has been paid to a massive loss among all the wins.
Voters in the 3rd Congressional District returned Republican Rep. Lauren Boebert to Congress. Plenty of coverage followed her unexpectedly close race, which she won by such a thin margin it triggered an automatic recount. But the coverage emphasized her vulnerability, and much of it characterized the race as a sort of win for Democratic challenger Adam Frisch, since few observers expected him to perform so well in a district that typically favors the GOP by 9 percentage points.
But the fact is that Boebert won, and her triumph is much more significant than her first electoral victory in 2020.
Republicans starting in January will assume majority control in the U.S. House, which naturally raises the profile of every House Republican, including Boebert. Furthermore, Boebert’s colleagues elected her to the 23-member House Republican Policy Committee, where she will help steer the direction of the whole GOP caucus in Congress.
Boebert isn’t just a member of Congress now. She’s a member with influence. No longer can Americans disregard her low-information, high-outrage performance as a reality TV character with a congressional pin. Now her presence in Washington, with all the disinformation and democracy-damaging activity that comes with it, is more dangerous than ever.
Any discussion of Boebert as an elected official must start with her acts of sedition and by observing that her very status as a trustee of public affairs is an affront to constitutional order. Boebert on Jan. 6, 2021, was a vocal member of the sedition caucus, that group of Republicans who voted to overturn electoral results on behalf of coup-plotting former President Donald Trump.
There is a legitimate question — given her election denial activities and rhetoric around the insurrection — about whether Boebert is constitutionally prohibited from holding elective office at all. At least one American elected official recently was barred by a court for violating a 14th Amendment prohibition against engaging in insurrection.
Boebert isn't just a member of Congress now. She's a member with influence.
But let’s put aside Boebert’s anti-American behavior and consider what policies she might pursue.
Start with her record. Boebert has sponsored 40 bills in her two years in Congress, according to a ProPublica database. None made it out of a House committee. None earned bipartisan support. Many are vain gestures with no basis in sound governance.
The first bill she ever introduced came in the midst of an early COVID-19 surge and would have banned mask mandates on federal property. It attracted zero co-sponsors. One of the most recent bills Boebert, a Second Amendment fundamentalist, introduced was the Shall Not Be Infringed Act, which would repeal the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act, a firearm safety bill passed in response to the mass shooting in Uvalde and Buffalo.
Several of her bills amount to pure performance, such as her bills to impeach President Joe Biden and designate “antifa” as a domestic terrorist organization. Other bills reflect her unflagging bigotry against the LGBTQ community, such as a bill that would ban federal funds for research on gender transitions in children and a bill that targeted the NCAA swimmer Lia Thomas, a trans woman whom the hateful Boebert went out of her way to misgender.
Boebert’s record voting on other lawmakers’ bills does little more to inspire confidence that she takes lawmaking seriously. She and MAGA-crazed Republican Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia were the only two members of the House to vote against the reauthorization of a program that helps facilitate bone marrow transplants for leukemia and lymphoma patients.
But the best indicators of what to fear from Boebert as her power expands are the innumerable instances of reckless, immature and extremist behavior. Very soon after Boebert’s arrival in Washington, fellow members of Congress, on both sides of the aisle, reportedly came to fear for their physical safety around her. Democratic U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota is all too familiar with this drawback of proximity to Boebert — after Boebert made anti-Muslim comments about Omar, Speaker Nancy Pelosi in an extraordinary statement characterized Boebert’s rhetoric as “bigotry” and condemned it as “deeply offensive and concerning.” Omar herself viewed Boebert’s comments as “dangerous.” Boebert brought humiliation to Colorado when, like a detention-prone middle schooler, she heckled Biden during a State of the Union address.
When Boebert isn’t trying to own the libs, she’s often found advancing extreme positions, such as when in June she advised an audience, “The church is supposed to direct the government,” and complained, “I’m tired of this separation of church and state junk that’s not in the Constitution.” In September, she told another audience that “we are in the last of the last days” — that’s right, the literal rapture.
What will it mean for Colorado to have a bigoted, election-denying representative who believes the end times are imminent wielding power in Congress? You don’t need to be a prophet to know the state should brace for more exasperation, threats and embarrassment.
This commentary was first published by Colorado Newsline, a sibling site of the Pennsylvania Capital-Star.