No Republican politician has stood up more aggressively to Donald Trump and his assault on American democracy that Rep. Liz Cheney. She has refused to hug Trump’s “big lie” about the 2020 election and has repeatedly warned of Trump’s pernicious efforts to, in his words, “unravel our constitutional republic.”
Last night, he received his “reward”: a beating in his fight for the renomination and the probable end of his political career.
Cheney’s loss on Tuesday, in a state that once revered the name “Cheney,” is hardly surprising. Once he turned his back on Trump or, more accurately, refused to bend the knee to the former president, the handwriting was on the wall.
Of nine other Republicans who joined Cheney in voting on articles of impeachment against Trump in January 2021, only two remain. Four dropped out and three others lost in the primaries to Trump-backed opponents.
But none of the 10 heretics was more prominent and forceful in their denunciations of Trump than Cheney. As of January 2021, she was the third-ranking member of the House Republican leadership and a rising star in the party. But her apostasy was too much for House Republicans, who voted to impeach her and replace her with New York Rep. Elise Stefanik, a former Never Trumper member more loyal to her ambition than her principles. .
Cheney’s fall is greater than the simple defeat of a politician; it is emblematic of the GOP’s descent into the cult.
Like Stefanik, Cheney’s opponent, Harriet Hageman, followed a similar downward trajectory into the political sewer. In 2016, she correctly mocked Trump as a “racist and xenophobe” and tried to engineer a vote on the floor of the Republican National Convention to replace Trump on the national ticket with Texas Sen. Ted Cruz. Today, Hageman call trump “the best president of our lives”, a statement so ridiculous that only the clueless or the cowardly would make it.
It is, of course, a profoundly cynical change, but one that is no longer surprising.
Republicans with political aspirations know they must bow to Trump if they want to win a Republican primary or keep their job in a Republican state. Hageman is no different from South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham, who in 2016 said that hugging Trump would mean “losing the heart and soul of the conservative movement.” He has followed the same path as Florida Senator Marco Rubio, who also in 2016 He called Trump a “con man” and too “dangerous” to be in control of the country’s nuclear codes. Today, of course, Rubio has been one of Trump’s strongest defenders since the FBI searched his Mar-a-Lago residence last week.
Indeed, truth be told, it is a path similar to that followed by Cheney. In 2016, after the publication of the so-called Access to Hollywood tape, her kept his support for Trump. While she called Trump’s comments “appalling,” Clinton was, in her words, a “rogue” and Cheney said “there was no question that Donald Trump would be a much better fit for Wyoming than Hillary Clinton.”
she defended Trump during his first impeachment trial in 2019, calling the congressional investigation a “sham” and a waste of time. unlike her co-worker The Republican apostate, Representative Adam Kinzinger, she has expressed he has no regrets about his “no” vote on that impeachment trial.
But eventually, Cheney came to his senses about Trump and the malign influence of Trumpism on his party and the country in general. While one may criticize his previous support for Trump as a cynical political decision, it must be coupled with the recognition that in voicing his criticism of Trump today, so loudly and persistently, he was not blind to the political consequences. She would probably end her political career, and she knew it. Yesterday, that was precisely what happened.
In recent weeks, there has been talk that the soon-to-be former congresswoman could challenge Trump in the 2024 Republican primary. Good luck with all of that.
When he asked his fellow Republicans in reception the 2022 Profile In Courage Award from the John F. Kennedy Library, “Will we do our duty, uphold our Constitution, uphold the truth, put duty to our oath above partisan politics, or will we look away from danger, ignore the threat, embrace the lies and enable the liar… the implicit response that has come to me has been resounding and overwhelming.
There is no constituency in the modern Republican Party for Cheney’s principled conservatism and allegiance to basic and universal American political traditions. He would garner little support in the Republican presidential primary. If she ran as an independent, her unapologetic conservatism would allow few Democrats to vote for her. She is today a politician without a political home.
However, one doesn’t have to agree with Cheney’s politics (and I certainly don’t) to recognize that his willingness to criticize, investigate, and expose Donald Trump’s Big Lie about the 2020 election is the kind of courage worthy of applause. Rather than engage in the cowardly and cynical political machinations of his fellow Republicans, Cheney, with a staunch adherence to principle and clear eyes, torpedoed his political aspirations. She is a unicorn in the modern Republican Party, someone who is willing to tell the truth about Donald Trump.
Cheney may be a flawed hero, but he’s a hero nonetheless, and the country is poorer for his defeat.