If you could design a member of Congress who would be the ideal representative of the grit and glory of the American worker, it would be Lauren Boebert. 

Boebert, as a matter of fact, has just been elected to serve in that august body, representing Colorado’s 3rd congressional district. Boebert, 33, hails from Rifle, Colorado, where she owns a gun-themed restaurant called Shooters Grill. Half the wait staff open-carries. 

Naturally, it’s the guns that already have made her famous on Capitol Hill. There’s been no shortage of headlines about the “gun-toting” congresswoman-elect who inquired during freshman orientation about rules for carrying her trusty Glock on Capitol Hill. It’s legal by the way for legislators to carry (but not for tourists). For all her wallop, Boebert is a slight, dark-haired woman with studious glasses, who once described herself (to anti-gun politician Beto O’Rourke) as “5 foot nothing and 100 pounds.” 

The media’s obsessive focus on Boebert’s guns overlooks what is really more important about her.

The media’s overwhelming focus on Boebert and her guns overlooks what is really more important about the newly-elected legislator: her hard work, down-to-earth values, and a success story that will endear her to regular folks. She did not get her start in life in a fancy internship at a law office or think tank.

Lauren Boebert went to work for the local McDonald’s at the age of 15. At the age of 18, McDonald’s promoted her to manager. Boebert regards working at McDonald’s as transformative. For one thing, members of Boebert’s family had received welfare assistance, and working at McDonald’s changed Boebert’s views on that.

“McDonald’s taught me a lot about work ethics and responsibility that I did not know,” she says. “Starting at 15 and being offered a pretty significant manager’s position at 18 developed in me skills that I never knew I had. McDonald’s launched me. I took the values I learned at McDonald’s to future positions.”

She still calls her former general manager at McDonald’s. “Anytime I have a question about my business, I call her and I ask her what she would do. She was a great manager, and she’s always there to give me advice on how to make my restaurant successful and other aspects of my life.”

“McDonald’s taught me a lot about work ethics and responsibility,” Boebert says. “McDonald’s launched me.”

Lauren grew up in the Aurora and Montbello areas in Colorado. “My mom had five children,” she recalls, “and she believed the lie that she was told that you need government to take care of your children. We lived under those failed policies for far too long, and it was just a cycle of poverty that we were stuck in. There was no incentive for us to get out, because if mom made too much money, then we could risk losing everything. That wasn’t a risk that she was comfortable with taking. I stood in line for bread and cheese, and I know firsthand that that’s not the best way to live.”

Lauren’s stepfather moved the family to Rifle, where he worked in the oil and gas industry, and for the first time the family began to enjoy some financial freedom. “That is about the time I started working,” Lauren says. “It was very empowering. I was helping out with paying the bills, and helping to obtain that financial freedom. And I brought my mom home that first paycheck and I was happy to. It was very empowering that I had put my hand to something and was able to contribute to the family and I learned from a very young age that I could do a better job taking care of myself than the government ever did.”

She also remembers how empowering it was to buy her first personal luxury item: Hanes socks. “They were little white Hanes ankle socks,” she says. “Hanes was written in pink letters. I really liked that because it was very clear that, although they were white socks, they were girl socks. They were not little boy socks. I had been wearing my brother’s socks. I loved being able to go out and get those things that we often take for granted. This is one of the things that motivated me to continue to work.”

When welfare reform was under consideration in the Clinton years, a lot of people, who faced diminution of their benefits, sneeringly would ask, “What do you expect me to do—work at McDonald’s?” Lauren Boebert would reply with a resounding “yes.” “I’m so grateful for the owners of McDonald’s, for the managers who were there at that time, who took risks and invested in me. I could have gone anywhere from there. I could have stayed with McDonald’s for the rest of my life and had a tremendous career if I had chosen to. It’s a place that a lot of people overlook and don’t give a lot of credit to, but they have so much influence in so many lives here in America.”

She also remembers how empowering it was to buy her first personal luxury item: Hanes socks.

She also began thinking about politics. “I didn’t really start thinking about Republican versus Democrat, welfare versus free markets, or capitalism until I moved out. I moved out at 17 years old, and I had my first son at 18. And that year I registered to vote. I didn’t really know how I was going to vote, and so I started looking into that, and I saw that the Republican Party is the party that supported the oil and gas industry, and my now-husband was working in the oil and gas industry and that was providing for us. And I wanted to vote for the people who would fight for us to be able to continue in that industry. So, the oil and gas industry led me to vote Republican.”

Lauren’s husband is Jayson Boebert, an oilfield worker (Lauren herself briefly worked in the oil fields), and the couple has four sons. Lauren’s restaurant Shooters Grill re-opened May 9 of this year—after the pandemic. It was at half capacity but served customers inside, ignoring Governor Jared Polis’ orders that forbade indoor dining. She says she re-opened safely and in accordance with CDC guidelines. A Colorado newspaper observed that Boebert’s defiance of the governor “only accentuates the restaurant’s Wild-West feel.” The combination of masks and guns also contributes to a novel dining experience. Boebert is quick, however, to tout her burgers, steaks and hand-cut French fries. 

Boebert said she agreed with Polis’ original order to shut things down, but believes that the extensions of the order were not based on scientific data. She argues the extensions are “absolutely unconstitutional.” In addition, Boebert says she had to remain open to pay her employees. “I was coming up on a payroll where I was not going to be able to pay my employees. I did not participate in the Payroll Protection Program. I wasn’t comfortable with participating in that and I’m grateful that it was there for other small businesses. 

“I know that it helped to get them through that time, but for me, PPP money didn’t feel right. And I wanted to take care of the employees that I hired who had committed themselves to my business, and so we were doing everything that we could to keep them employed. And, you know, we were fortunate enough to have some of our own capital to do that. You know, it was really nice. My husband and I used to have savings. We don’t anymore. Maybe we will again one day. But we didn’t have to tell anyone that they had to go home and couldn’t work, or instruct them on how to fill out government forms to get assistance.” One of those employees, incidentally, is Lauren’s mother, Shawn Bentz, whom her daughter describes as “my hero.”

Shooters was briefly shut down after Boebert’s license to operate a restaurant was suspended. She ignored a restraining order. The case was ultimately dismissed when state-wide regulations were updated to allow restaurants to operate at half capacity. While Shooters was shut down, however, Boebert’s armed supporters demonstrated outside. Never lacking a flare for the dramatic, Boebert brazenly posted a picture of herself, armed and masked, flanked by similarly decked out gents.

The combination of masks and guns at Boebert’s Shooters Grill in Rifle, Colo., heightens an already novel dining experience.

Throughout her career, Lauren has had colorful skirmishes with the established order, including a failure to appear in court for a careless driving incident, which she herself had reported.  She spent an hour paying her fine and getting a mugshot. (During the campaign, the mugshot was plastered on billboards throughout the 3rd Congressional District.) In 2015, Boebert was given a citation for unruly behavior at a country music festival. Seems Lauren spotted festival goers in police custody and approached the scene, rather vociferously reminding the detained to make sure their Miranda rights were read. Boebert reportedly ended up briefly in handcuffs that time. It should be noted that Boebert is a stalwart defender of the police.

“I very well could have sealed my record,” Boebert told the Colorado Sun newspaper. “But there’s nothing in my past that I’m trying to hide from anyone. I’m not a polished politician trying to pretend to be something I’m not.”

Let’s admit it: Lauren Boebert will not be your typical Washington power player.  U.S. Rep. Ken Buck, chairman of the Colorado GOP, told a reporter. “You’re talking about a woman who grew up in a family on welfare. Who, through hard work, has really raised herself up. And she knows the value of government programs and she knows when government programs can be counterproductive. I think Lauren is just a super candidate.”

Many people come to Washington to be changed beyond recognition by the Swamp and its perks. What do you bet Lauren Boebert won’t be one of them?