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Rep. Boebert speaks with Dolores students about civic engagement and rights: ‘You are the now’

U.S. Rep. Lauren Boebert answers questions from students during her visit Wednesday to Dolores Secondary Schools. (Bailey Duran/Special to The Journal)
Students also ask Boebert about Congress, ideology

During a visit Wednesday at the Dolores school campus, U.S. Rep. Lauren Boebert encouraged students to realize their worth and not settle for less than their value.

“Some people may even say that you are our nation’s future,” she said. “I disagree. You are not the future. You are the thing that you are participating in right now.”

After being introduced by student body president Ethen Robson, Boebert thanked the school for allowing her to speak with students, saying it is important for young people to understand their rights and liberties in this country, and that their voice does indeed make a difference.

“You get to decide and take part in each and every one of these elections to decide who’s going to best reflect your values, your interests and your future. Now, I talk to a lot of our youth, which I absolutely love. I’m a mom of four boys. And it’s always exciting to see the enthusiasm that our youth have,” she said.

“There’s a lot that can come against you in these days, and some of it can be a little scary. But we live in an amazing country, where each and every one of you have the opportunity to thrive and be successful,” she said.

School officials and Boebert’s office billed the session in the Dolores Schools gymnasium as a kind of civics discussion, but the congresswoman also spoke of her efforts with the Freedom Caucus – a conservative bloc of Republican representatives – the U.S. response to COVID-19, and in response to students’ questions, about her personal and political development.

Boebert, a second-term Republican, represents Colorado’s 3rd Congressional District, which includes 27 counties comprising about 50,000 square miles.

The congresswoman spoke to students about her role as a representative and emphasized that she relies on the Constitution and the Founding Fathers’ Federalist Papers as a guide in her work.

She encouraged students to learn about the Constitution and their rights as citizens to help them become aware of issues that could affect their daily lives or infringe on their rights.

She also spoke about the start to the 118th Congress and about tactics used in the House during the election of Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy.

“For those who pay attention to politics, it was exciting. Some called it chaos, but as a mom of four boys, I know chaos,” she joked.

Before McCarthy was named speaker, Boebert said, she and many of her colleagues demanded single-subject bills so that legislators could not insert separate agendas into legislation and asked that representatives be able to offer amendments even if they weren’t members of that bill’s committee.

As an example, she told students that although she doesn’t serve on the Agriculture Committee, she wanted to be able to offer amendments to agriculture bills to ensure those in her district involved in agriculture were represented.

She also said representatives have a minimum of 72 hours to read new bills, rather than the former 24-hour benchmark.

Boebert, who is now a member of the Oversight and Accountability Committee, also told students how she and many of her colleagues have tried to keep bills from passing with unanimous consent. She said it is important that all bills face a vote so that all representatives can use their voice and the voices of their constituents to ensure that potentially harmful, frivolous and costly bills are adequately evaluated before being approved.

“That is taxpayer money,” she said. “That is the money that your mom and dad worked so hard for.”

She said she and other members of the Freedom Caucus have worked to pass bills in a timely manner as individual appropriation bills and omnibus bills.

“We’re going to do our jobs,” she said.

She also described the current 118th Congress as more open to debate and bipartisan support than the 117th Congress of her previous term.

“We weren’t engaging in conversations with our colleagues on both sides of the aisle,” she said. “We were building relationships, learning more about each other’s districts and how they represent their constituents, and it was a very unifying moment in Congress.”

She said she decided to run for Congress for the future of her children and other young people like them.

“There are many issues at a federal level that I’m working on each and every day to protect you, to secure your future and to make sure that you can live in a successful country,” she said. “You have every opportunity available to you here in the land of the free.

“I hope that if there’s anything that you take away from this today, never settle for less. You are all worth so much; your value is so high. Don’t ever devalue yourself and settle for something that is below what you’re worth,” she said.

Boebert contended that the response to COVID-19 infringed on liberties during the pandemic and told students they should know about those issues and let it motivate them to stand up for their freedom.

“You have a role. You have a voice. These are vital to your communities, to your livelihoods, to your future,” she said.

In a Q&A after Boebert’s speech, students asked questions about current legislation, potential TikTok bans, funding for space exploration and about Boebert’s personal and political development.

“What three people in your life helped shape the beliefs that influence your political ideologies?” one student asked.

Boebert answered that her mother influenced her political decisions more than anyone else, sharing that her family had been deceived by politicians and empty promises, keeping them trapped in a cycle of poverty until Boebert got a job at age 15.

“I saw that there was a better way than the way we had grown up and the way that we were told to do things,” she said.

She also credited her pastors, church and the teachings of Jesus.

“My pastors showed me how to live a good and moral life, and I believe that’s what our founders intended with your government, to have moralities throughout our government so we can be a good and moral people,” she said.

“Unfortunately, I’ve seen a moral decay throughout our societies and our nation. I think it’s very important for us to be a bright shining light to ensure that we can restore some of that,” Boebert said.

She also credited her four sons, whom she described as “four people in one.”

“I was happy being a mom,” Boebert said. “I was a business owner, but I saw government over-regulating, overtaxing, overspending and destroying everything that we were working so hard to build. And really, it was my frustration that led me to want to do something about it. I saw the future my children were going to walk into, and I want to leave them a better country than what I found. I want it to be stronger for them. I want to secure their freedoms, I want to secure their liberties.”

After the Q&A period, Boebert urged students who had additional questions to write her office.

“I would love to read those letters and respond to them,” she said.

The session was held after some parents had expressed concerns that Boebert’s visit would become political in nature, rather than educational. One parent expressed fears that Boebert, a supporter of gun rights who frequently carries an unconcealed handgun, might take a gun into the school. The parent, who requested anonymity, also expressed fear that Boebert’s visit might make the school vulnerable to an attack by an opponent.

Members of the Montezuma County Sheriff’s Office were present throughout the event.

“The security provided by the Montezuma County Sheriff’s and SRO Kayle Green was excellent,” said Principal Justin Schmitt. “Our students and staff members were safe, and the Congresswoman was safe throughout her time on our campus.”

He also praised students.

“It was a great opportunity for students to hear from our Congresswoman, and they were excited to be given this chance. I was proud of the way that our students conducted themselves during the assembly,” he said. “They were attentive and respectful, and those that had the opportunity to ask questions did so in a thoughtful and meaningful way.

“The overwhelming majority of students attended yesterday’s assembly,” he added. “In fact, our attendance levels were higher than normal yesterday.”