Skip to contents
Opinion Columns

Wilson: Colorado’s cowardly representatives in Congress remain silent in the face of Trump’s racism

The silence says so much. The cowardice-cat has got Republican lawmakers by the tongue, and in the absence of their voices, so much is being said … mainly, by the president.  

Among the four GOP representatives who voted to rebuke Donald Trump’s hate speech, progressive Colorado couldn’t claim a single one.

Theo Wilson

Sadly, neither Ken Buck, Doug Lamborn, nor Scott Tipton could find the spine to speak out against what is blatantly clear and present bigotry.  

History takes note of their tail-tucking, starting with this article. I am sure they’ve got their reasons for being mute in the face of injustice. There are probably some very important apple carts they imagine are impossible to upset. Too risky, right?

I bet Rep. Ilhan Omar knows a thing or two about risk, being a Somali immigrant and all. It’s likely that being a Muslim woman who openly wears a hijab in post 9-11 America has baptized her in more than her fair share of fire.  

She still found the courage to not only run for, but win a seat in the House of Representatives in her new home. Then, as if that weren’t enough, she challenges the most powerful man in the world on a public stage, and refuses to back down. What could possibly be more American than this kind of courage? 

Well, maybe the tacit refusal to confront racial injustice is more American. It’s as old as the parchment of our Constitution, and the slave master’s ink on the pages.

Maybe even as American as the name Ken Buck, who ironically wrote a book called “Drain The Swamp.” Perhaps the most dangerous creature in the lagoon is the grand dragon of racism itself.  Imagine how dangerous a crocodile would be if those designated to hunt it refused to acknowledge it was there in the first place.  

READ: Colorado Sun opinion columnists.

Of all the things that grow in Colorado, justice-minded Republicans don’t seem to be among them. Michigan’s Fred Upton, one of the GOP representatives who did stand up to Trump, does his state proud. He, and several members of the Problem Solver’s Caucus have visited the southern border, and found a scene he called “Incredibly sobering.”  

A Colorado Republican hasn’t been a part of this caucus since Mike Coffman in 2017. Yet, we as a nation have a problem that needs solving. The problem is that members of the president’s own party keep pardoning him for missteps that would have sunk other presidents.  

We need Republicans to stand up, and join the right side of history. Heck, it would have been great to even hear from Sen. Cory Gardner on this issue. Sadly, the racial-aversion bug seems to have bitten him as well.

If these conservative legislators do not speak up, then what’s right and wrong looks more like an issue of Right and Left. At that point, moral standards become part and parcel to which side of the political aisle takes action on them.

This means that truth, which should be universal, becomes muddied by cliquish back-scratching as the nation edges closer to disaster.  

As a student of history, one can only wonder how the party of Lincoln fell so far from its roots.  This is the party that Frederick Douglass once called home. It was the only political party that a self-respecting black person could join, or hope to hold office in. 

The Republican party has the distinction of having the first black lieutenant governor, Oscar Dunn, among its ranks. He was elected in 1868. You read that correctly. Just three years after slavery was officially over, the Republican party had the audacity to elect a black man to an office thought impossible for a former slave to hold. 

What would Dunn think about what has become of his beloved Republican party? Would he recognize the rhetoric of Donald Trump as akin to what he heard on the plantation? Do we honestly think Oscar Dunn would shake hands with the likes of Scott Tipton and Doug Lamborn? As a slave, Dunn was forced to place his hands on many unsavory things. As a free man, he would likely leave Ken Buck’s hand untouched. 

I imagine Oscar Dunn at a Trump rally and hearing the cry, “Send Her Back!” pinching himself to remind him of what year it was. His legacy reminds us that we should do just that to these GOP representatives, and return them to their districts, unseated. 

In a democracy, it’s a representative’s constituency that holds their feet to the fire. These three Colorado U.S. House Republicans stay quiet in the face of Trump’s incendiary race baiting only because we do. That tacit refusal to speak up ends, now. In the words of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., “In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.”  

Oh, Dr. King, we in Colorado hope and pray that the moral courage of the Republican party did not die the same day that you did.  

Theo Wilson is a poet, speaker, activist and CNN contributor. Learn more about him at TheoWilson.net.


We believe vital information needs to be seen by the people impacted, whether it’s a public health crisis, investigative reporting or keeping lawmakers accountable. This reporting depends on support from readers like you.