The government has reopened; life can continue here in the provinces, far removed from the capital. After casting a vote based on his principles, our 5th District Rep. Doug Lamborn has come under fire from opponents for his vote against raising the national debt ceiling to around $17 trillion - an unimaginably massive sum.
On Oct. 25, I had the privilege to hear former U.S. Sen. Bill Armstrong speak. Armstrong also represented Colorado Springs in Congress during the 1970s as the representative from the 5th District. During his tenure, Armstrong repeatedly voted against raising the debt ceiling, taking the same principled stand that many did last week in Congress, including Lamborn. So perhaps there is a historical and political precedent that explains why Lamborn was the only member of the Colorado delegation to vote against the compromise.
He wouldn't be the first to have done so from the 5th District, nor was he alone among his Republican colleagues. Other reasonable folks such as Paul Ryan voted in solidarity with Lamborn and more than 140 other House Republicans. Democrats here have harangued our congressman with criticism because he's an easy target, as an incumbent standing for re-election. Additionally, opponents of Lamborn no doubt crassly exploited his vote to raise funds to people themselves into his office.
Lamborn has been re-elected every two years with wide margins, and several times with over 60 percent of the general election vote.
Sixty-four percent voted for him in 2012, and an even greater percent voted for him in 2010. If any member of Congress from Colorado could claim an electoral mandate, it's Lamborn. He voted in the shutdown debacle based on his convictions, and on the views of the people who elected him.
What sort of representation do you believe in? It's a nonpartisan question, but one that fundamentally defines our view of our relationship our elected leaders. Should an elected leader constantly poll constituents to learn where the ever-shifting and malleable majority stands on an issue, and then vote accordingly, or should the elected leader vote based on the principles of conscience?
If a representative of the people is duly elected, the latter makes more sense, as a leader ought to vote based on his or her own personal convictions, as it was upon those convictions that the electors in a district chose that representative. Or so argued British politician Edmund Burke, who has shaped conservative thought for over two and a half centuries.
Those who lambast Lamborn are certainly not the majority of the voters of this district. If they were, the multiterm congressman would have lost re-election in 2008. Or 2010. Or last year. But he has vanquished both Republican primary opponents, including high-rollers and elected officials, and Democrat general election challengers. While he's not a perfect politician, Lamborn represents his constituents. He's proven this numerous times against numerous challengers, and has walked away victorious from every battle.
Lamborn voted based on his convictions. His principles shaped his vote on the debt ceiling; those principles are what got him elected in the first place, and those who would blame him or shame him must not understand a Burkean model of representation.
Alex Johnson is editor-in-chief of the University of Denver Clarion.