Once again, I’m faced with what I have come to think of as the Lauren Boebert conundrum: How crazy/bigoted/outrageous/provocative does she have to be — and she can be all those things at once — before I give in and write about her again?
It’s never an easy call. And I’m aware of the dangers of giving her even a slightly larger megaphone than she already has. But she is running for re-election, and the midterms are upon us, and Colorado’s 3rd Congressional District voters should know what a vote for Boebert actually means. Because it means more than you might think.
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Let’s face it, Boebert is the MAGA face of the Colorado Republican Party and, should Republicans retake the House, as most expect, she would — in the worst case — no longer be a noisy back-bencher in the mold of, say, Tom Tancredo, but very likely an actual player with real influence.
The thinking, at least among many political pundits, is that the 40-plus members of House Freedom Caucus — including Boebert, of course, but also Marjorie Taylor Greene, Paul Gosar, Jim Jordan, Matt Gaetz, Mo Brooks and list goes on — will have outsize influence on Republican politics, because they will be able to control the presumed next House speaker, Kevin McCarthy. It’s simple math, really, given that the Republican majority, assuming they win it, will probably be small. That means if the Freedom Caucus doesn’t vote with McCarthy, he’s a goner.
The Freedom Caucus is critical now, and its power is likely to grow by November. According to a count by fivethirtyeight.com, at least 117 Republican election deniers and an additional eight election doubters have at least a 95% percent chance of being elected to Congress. And other deniers are in competitive races.
Try to imagine it — Boebert as a political force. It’s hard, but you must. If it doesn’t shake you up, you must not be paying attention. I know that her Democratic opponent, Adam Frisch, whom Boebert calls “Aspen Adam,” is paying attention. And there have been some recent polls — which I’m not quite ready to believe — showing that he might be within striking range of an upset.
Anyway, here Boebert was the other night on her campaign tour of America — this time in Knox County, Tennessee — telling party regulars that there was “a calling” for each of them to “rise up.”
“It is an honor to serve in this time,” she said. “I believe that many of us in this room believe that we are in the last of the last days and that’s not a time to complain, that’s not a time to grumble, to be dismayed, to be disheartened, but a time to rejoice.”
“You get to be a part of ushering in the second coming of Jesus,” Boebert said.
According to reports, Boebert’s words were met by applause across the room.
Of course they were.
This is not the first time Boebert has invoked End Times to describe our current situation. I’ve done it myself, but only at least half-jokingly. Boebert is referring to the view of some Christians that Jesus will return after a time of great suffering and save believers. And only believers.
But as Christian nationalism becomes a more influential part of the extreme right wing of Republican politics, it becomes even more concerning. One recent poll found that 61% of Republicans favor calling America a Christian nation. And here’s where it gets even weirder — that’s despite the fact that, in the same poll, 57% of Republicans said that doing so would be unconstitutional.
Being Jewish, I tend to worry about stuff like that, not to mention the ongoing threat to our democracy. But I’m hardly alone. I’m guessing most of us have a problem with a governing philosophy based on a favored cartoonist take on life: “The End Is Near.” One cartoon I particularly like adds as an appendage: “Nearer Than Yesterday.”
As the Lincoln Project — a group of Never Trumpers dedicated to defeating all things Trump — tweeted: “Christian or not, Lauren Boebert cannot adequately represent any constituent who does not believe in this end times prophecy. Can you really have someone making decisions on your behalf that thinks nothing they do now will matter?”
Or as Marjorie Taylor Greene once put it, “We need to be a party of nationalism, and I’m a Christian, and I say it proudly, we should be Christian Nationalists.” And she responded to criticism by — let’s see if you can guess — selling Christian Nationalist T-shirts. Of course she did.
Boebert can nearly match that. She is clearly on record as opposing that “separation of church and state junk.” She has put it this way: “The church is supposed to direct the government. The government is not supposed to direct the church. That is not how our Founding Fathers intended it.”
How bad is it? How bad could it be? Let’s just say it’s not just phony litter boxes you need to be worried about.
Longtime reporter Robert Draper has written an entire book about the danger entitled “Weapons of Mass Delusion.” It covers the state of the Republican Party since Jan. 6, and as the Washington Post review says, “the book represents the pivot point between ‘this is not normal,’ and ‘this is dangerous and not going away.’” The party, Draper writes, has “plunged deeper into the Trumpian cult of compulsive dissembling and conspiracy mongering.” Or as the book’s subhead says: “When the Republican Party Lost Its Mind.”
Meanwhile, congressional scholar Norm Ornstein asks in the Atlantic, “How Far Would a Republican Majority Go?”
I’ll give you a hint: Farther than you might think.
As things stand today, Republicans are favored to reclaim the House majority, and it looks as if the Senate, now with a 50-50 Democratic majority (yes, Vice President Kamala Harris casts a deciding vote in case of a tie), is a tossup.
I’ll give you a quick peek from Ornstein, a respected political moderate and strong critic of Trumpian Republicans: “If Republicans win control of the House of Representatives, the country will face a series of fundamental challenges much greater than we have had in any modern period of divided government, including a direct and palpable threat of default and government shutdown. The Republican majority will be more radical, reckless and willing to employ nuclear options to achieve its goals than any of its predecessors have been, and its leadership, starting with McCarthy, will be either compliant or too weak to head off catastrophe.”
Debt ceiling. Default. Government shutdown. Radical, reckless. Nuclear options.
Yes, a Republican House would go there.
Jan. 6. Insurrection. Coup.
Or as Utah’s independent Senate candidate Evan McMullin described the rioters in a debate with GOP Sen. Mike Lee, “Barbarians at the gate.”
Boebert, Gosar, Greene, Jordan.
Hunter Biden hearings. Hearings on Jan. 6 hearings. Anthony Fauci hearings. Impeaching Joe Biden? Impeaching Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas?
Boebert has already weighed in. “Secretary Mayorkas should be a priority,” she said. “Joe Biden’s his own demise.”
Yeah, I’m afraid I had to write about Boebert again. The stakes are just too high not to.
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