It’s becoming increasingly clear that there are two types of politicians these days: the performative obstructionists and the representative workhorses. The performative politician evaluates their success or failure based on how much attention they get on social media, cable news, or partisan radio programs. The latter worries more about constituent services, the bills they pass, and how well they represent the constituents of their district.
Colorado Rep. Lauren Boebert is the perfect performative politician, and it’s not doing her district any good.
As far as I can tell, there are few words that come out of Boebert’s mouth or her Twitter feed that aren’t borrowed pieces of right-wing propaganda designed to keep her supporters foaming at the mouth and clicking the “donate” button on her website. She insists on weighing in on every controversial issue du jour — taking a “What Would Trump Tweet?” approach to her communications — all to put herself in the spotlight at the expense of her constituents.
Boebert has no legislative accomplishments to tout; she doesn’t even seem interested in making laws. Among the bills she has sponsored are three doomed efforts on immigration, a 25-word-long prohibition on federal mask mandates, and a resolution declaring “Antifa” a “domestic terrorist organization.” Boebert is not interested in labeling “Oath Keepers” or “Three Percenters” as such, despite their well-publicized roles in the deadly Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol for which several of their members have been arrested. It’s probably no coincidence that Boebert has been pictured with members of both militia groups.
To be fair, Boebert is also sponsoring three pieces of legislation that, at first glance, appear to be relevant to her district. One addresses water rights, the second concerns the management of federal lands, and a third is called the “Protecting American Energy Jobs Act.” Those sure sound good, so long as you stop reading after the title — the water rights bill has no legislative text whatsoever. The other two contain fewer words than this column. In fact, she’s the lead sponsor on five bills that contain no text, at all.
All hat and no cattle? Boebert is all title and no text.
Like her legislative efforts, Boebert’s public statements, mostly via Twitter, bear little relationship to her job as a congresswoman representing the Western Slope and Southern Colorado. She says horrible things about transgender youth, President Joe Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris, Democrats in general, immigrants, and anyone else not regularly invited to Mar-a-Lago.
Earlier this week Boebert enthusiastically signed onto a bill with fellow QAnon enthusiast Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia; Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan and other Trump acolytes in a blatantly retaliatory move against Major League Baseball for relocating their All-Star game from Atlanta to Denver in response to new Republican voter suppression laws passed in Georgia. The law has since been watered down after facing immense criticism that some of its initial provisions were explicitly designed to restrict voting by people of color, originally eliminating early voting on Sundays when Black church leaders encouraged their congregants to go vote after services, a decades-long tradition known as, “souls to the polls,” with deep roots in the Civil Rights Movement.
That’s right, a Colorado Representative is trying to turn away the MLB All-Star game, depriving the state she claims to represent of an estimated $100 million in economic benefits as part of some kind of double-recursive anti-cancel-culture-cancel-culture-move in defense of racist voter suppression laws in other states.
The simple truth is that Lauren Boebert is much more interested in getting “likes” and “retweets” on her Twitter posts and airtime on Fox News, Newsmax and even less reputable right-wing disinformation networks than she is in doing a single thing for her constituents. Boebert gets paid $14,500 a month to represent the people of Colorado’s Third District, but she voted against $1,400 stimulus checks for her constituents and everything else that was in President Biden’s popular COVID relief package.
Boebert is clearly unqualified to hold a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives, but I assumed that she would at least make it look like she was trying once she got there. Not so. Luckily, the good people of the Third District need only suffer this indignity for another 18 months or so, as both Republicans and Democrats are coming out of the woodwork to challenge Boebert’s 2022 re-election bid. Boebert’s rise to right-wing Twitter stardom may have been rapid, but so too will be her implosion if she doesn’t start doing her actual job. Voters expect their representatives to be more than a punchline and a minor Twitter celebrity.
Ian Silverii is the founder of The Bighorn Company, an adjunct professor at the University of Denver, and the former director of ProgressNow Colorado. Follow him on Twitter @iansilverii. This op-ed was published in The Denver Post on April 18, 2021.