Our nation’s founders were students of history and were all too familiar with threats to nations that come from the outside, and they designed institutions to withstand those perennial threats. They also learned that great nations never truly fell to outside enemies: They succumbed first to weakness from within.
And so they created a framework, enshrined in the Constitution, that also sought to protect against the selfishness of individuals or the flaws in politically-serving institutions.
We have come to depend upon this framework as the greatest model of governance the world has ever known. It has worked so well in maintaining the integrity of our nation and in growing its power, influence and prosperity, that we have also come to take it for granted as infallible and safe. We have forgotten that this framework rests on the will and ability of its beneficiaries — we humans — to uphold it.
The Constitution itself is remarkably brief. The concepts it champions are, after all, quite simple. Among those are: government by the consent of the governed; checks and balances between political institutions; individual liberty and (its inseparable twin) individual responsibility.
These past four years, many of us have been deeply concerned about assaults on our republic from inside. The greatest of these concerns are not from rioters who physically attack our institutions of governance, nor even from our president, who instigates these acts of insurrection through lies and provocations. Our Constitution prevents such abuse of power through the authority it grants other branches to keep it in check. That is, unless those with that authority abdicate their responsibility to it. Or worse, those who use that power and authority in service of that abuse of power.
You are Colorado’s newest member of Congress, and you represent most of Eagle County. Your first act in that great body was to refuse the votes submitted to you by every state. That vote is ceremonial, as refusing the electoral vote is not a power granted to Congress. Perhaps that apparent lack of real consequence is why you and many of your fellow representatives chose to make what could only be considered a political statement with your votes.
Even had you offered evidence to support your claims of a fraudulent election (which neither you nor anyone else has done), your official act would still be a direct assault on the Constitution that you have glorified in your rhetoric as a candidate and have now sworn to uphold in your oath of office.
As a candidate, fanning the flames of insurrection with spurious claims of election fraud was grossly irresponsible, and yet your right granted by the Constitution. As an official fairly elected to office, to then assume and exercise an authority not granted to you by that same constitution is neither legal, ethical, or moral.
The storming of the capitol is a clear indication what consequence your leadership can have. Your passion for our nation and its values is admirable. You have now assumed the mantle of the public trust, and your passion must now be bridled with the full responsibility to that office and to the people it represents. You have violated your oath of office and can no longer claim to represent the people through that office.
We have added our names to a letter to the House of Representatives leadership asking for them to conduct an investigation of your actions leading up to and following the insurrection.
Still, we believe that you can restore both the faith of your constituents and the legitimacy of your claim to office with an apology and a restatement of your oath and a vow to better understand the responsibility to that oath and to the people you represent, not just your admirers.
Your opportunity to lead your constituents, rather than be led by populist fervor, still lays before you. We sincerely hope that you will choose leadership, acknowledge your errors, and reaffirm your passion and duty to serve our great nation.
Eagle County Board of County Commissioners