Republican Rep. Ken Buck’s fierce independent streak is a defining characteristic. We can’t say we’ve always agreed with Buck, who represents Colorado’s 4th Congressional District. But we respect and appreciate his stance on Tuesday in debunking a petition from El Paso County Republican Party Vice Chairman Todd M. Watkins that said Jan. 6 defendants are being unlawfully detained, “grossly mistreated and abused.”
Two weeks ago, Colorado GOP Secretary Anna Ferguson shared Watkins’ letter in a “Call to Action” email to members.
Leaning into his 25 years as a prosecutor, Buck skillfully dismantled Watkins’ claims of abuses, violations of constitutional rights and unequal treatment. He called out Watkins and the state GOP for making irresponsible, false claims with zero evidence, and for misdirecting “the energy and resources of Republican activists at a time when this country is facing crises after crises as a result of the failed policies of the Biden administration.”
It took guts for Buck to stand up within his party. His bold letter to Watkins, shared with colleagues, is a primer on how leaders separate themselves from naive followers.
It’s bizarre that Watkins’ petition garnered as many signatures as it did – 200 – in his attempt for Colorado congressional members to take action on Jan. 6 defendants’ behalf. With always-pressing work, why should this be a priority?
For Watkins and members who identify as patriots, there’s nothing patriotic about his scheme. It adds another layer to unhelpful conspiracy theories and does nothing to move the Colorado GOP forward. In fact, it’s an attempt to live in the past. Note to state GOP leadership – get on with it. There’s much work to do. Move ahead in a political world that may not include Donald Trump.
Stop the unhelpful distractions.
Watkins wrote that “hundreds of Americans” are “still detained without bond, most for misdemeanor offenses” or they have not been formally charged. Many have “suffered physical abuse and injury at the hands of their jailers or been denied medical treatment.” He said they are unable to meet with attorneys and detainees’ constitutional rights are being violated as they are silenced for political dissent.
“This is a despotic, tyrannical, banana republic,” the petition said, that “looks more like ‘The Gulag Archipelago’ than “the land of the free and the home of the brave.”
First, Watkins needs to put down the Kool-Aid. His petition was not based in reality.
Buck wrote back, “Your letter misleads the reader by portraying worse conditions at the jail for January 6 defendants than for other inmates. That is simply not true.”
And, “while many January 6 defendants have decried the process they face as unfair, it is the process every federally indicted criminal defendant in this country goes through.”
Many currently in the upper echelon of state Republican leadership call themselves conservatives. But they’re actually populists, which is neither right- or left-wing.
By definition, populism includes “anti-intellectual political movements or philosophies that offer unorthodox solutions or policies and appeal to the common person rather than according with traditional party or partisan ideologies.” Whereas conservatism, is the “political belief that society should change as little as possible.”
Juxtapose these definitions with patriots, people who “love their country” and are “ready to defend it against an enemy.”
Who does Colorado’s GOP most represent – conservatives, populists or patriots? Clearly, it’s wracked with an identity crisis.
And a petition like the one fired off by Watkins does not help or shine a light. Good thing Buck stepped up to set things straight.