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  • Writer's pictureMario Nicolais

Don’t feed the turkeys, in Congress or otherwise

Last week, a flock of wild turkeys turned up in my yard.

This is not a metaphorical statement or meant tongue in cheek. Finishing a walk around the neighborhood, I approached my house and saw seven actual turkeys in my front yard, pecking the ground and making themselves at home.

How apropos.

Less than a week after Thanksgiving and just before Congress undertook to expel one of its own turkeys, this flock showed up as if on queue. Do not tell me God does not have a magnificent sense of humor. 

Concerned that these were either escaped birds or dumped after being unsold prior to the holiday, I called the Lakewood Police Department. The incredulous operator had me repeat my statement twice just to be sure he understood what I was calling about before he dashed off a note to the animal control unit.

Less than five minutes later, I got a call from a cheery officer who told me all about the flock. Apparently, what started as a single female roaming the O’Kane Park neighborhood in Lakewood last year turned into a much larger group after she had chicks. Just check out some of the pictures on a Reddit page tracking them to make your day.

She told me that not only were wild turkeys native to Colorado, but that these particular ones had become local celebrities. They had been tracking them for a while and hoped that they would, slowly, continue to move west toward the foothills. But in the meantime they continue to delight local residents with their hijinx and antics.

I could relate. Watching them jump up onto my porch swing and sway back and forth made me smile. And they even let me get within just a few feet to snap pictures, seemingly unconcerned about the presence of danger.

But as the officer warned me, I needed to refrain from feeding them. While it was fine for them to hunt and peck, feeding them only served to create expectations and aggression.

The lessons abound for turkeys in Congress.

Just a few days after I first spotted the avian gobblers, Congress expelled a member for only the sixth time in its history, three of which were members of the Confederacy. Now former Rep. George Santos was removed for a litany of legal, ethical and comical reasons.

Despite his ridiculous and criminal masquerades, his expulsion was not even close to unanimous. Republicans were almost equally split — once again demonstrating their ambivalence to law-breaking and moral decrepitude — with 112 voting for expulsion and 105 voting against. Even two Democrats voted to allow Santos to continue preening around the halls of Congress. In all, the 311 votes against Santos eclipsed the 285 two-thirds majority necessary.

But it is a good warning to voters. Turkeys multiple, act silly and get more aggressive when fed.

Look no further than the Colorado delegation for confirmation. Two members, Reps. Lauren Boebert and Doug Lamborn, voted to retain Santos. Lamborn likely voted with Republican leadership, who took a tepid position against ejecting Santos, and to insulate himself against attack from his former primary opponent and state GOP party/clown car chair, Dave Williams.

Boebert, though? Well, you know what they say about birds of a feather.

Just a few weeks ago Boebert and Santos almost broke the internet while sitting together during the Speaker debates. Luckily most memes focused on their uncanny Boris and Natasha vibe rather than the potential for an encore theatrical performance from the Western Slope member.

Beyond the over-the-top antics both strut around displaying as proudly as a set of fine tail feathers, there is the little matter of using campaign funds as personal slush funds. While Santos chose to pay for Hampton holidays, spas, Hermes and OnlyFans, Boebert was at least a little more circumspect. The massive mileage reimbursements she claimed stalled out before a deadlocked FEC, alleged illegal contributions are still pending investigation and she only spent a few hundred dollars at her ex-boyfriend’s bar before finding out he was a Democrat.

This is the end result of irresponsible Republican voters over the past decade plus. They have prioritized performative politics over substance. They have trained candidates to engage in hyper-aggressive behavior in the name of “owning the libs” over actual governance. That in turn has led to a rapid decline in the party acting in the serious manner the citizens they represent deserve.

Until voters make a change in their behavior, they should not expect the turkeys running for office to change theirs.

In Colorado’s 3rd Congressional District, voters will get two shots to do so. First, Republicans and unaffiliated voters can replace her in June with Jeff Hurd, a serious and thoughtful candidate, and a good man. If they fail, a rematch with Adam Frisch, who made their race the closest in the country last year, looms. He has substantially outraised her as she continues to embarrass her own constituents and get humiliated when she attempts to sit at the grownups table in Congress. 

Thanksgiving might be over, but there are still a few turkeys on the loose. Voters should keep an eye out for them over then next year.

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