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The Not-So Curious Case of Liz Cheney
Wyoming Congresswoman at The GOP Fault Line
You know the deal: Wyoming Congresswoman Liz Cheney who along with eight of her Republican House colleagues joined all the Democrats in voting to impeach the former president for trying to destroy democracy in a sad and dangerous attempt to save face for getting his clock cleaned in the 2020 presidential election is not happy about her party and the country simply “moving on” from all this. Especially since it eventually led to a deadly insurrection on the Capitol by right-wing terrorists, However, this meandering over crimes committed by its titular leader makes zero sense for Republicans, who have been furiously changing election laws all over the country based on this bullshit in hopes of winning back power in 2022. Back in D.C., Republicans are performing the difficult political trick of simultaneously condemning the attack on the symbol of American law and order and the attempted murder of colleagues while appeasing the very people who did this and the guy who planted its seed, Donald Trump. Thus, Trump remains the GOP’s messianic avatar with the only voter base that can make the party relevant in the near future.
Biden at the Century Mark
Because of her understandably furious reaction to the January 6 terrorist attacks, Cheney is at her party’s fault line, making her as important a figure for party unity as West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin, who has rankled his fellow Democrats and skuttled President Joe Biden’s more sweeping bills through his siding more with Republicans. Cheney right now is the key Republican figure and the last vestige of hope for them to admit that Trump’s lies about having the 2020 election stolen is a threat to the future of this democracy and reeks of fascist elements of one-voice for one-party.
But that is political crazy talk. Again, it does nothing to help Republicans using The Big Lie to change election laws to benefit their winning in 2022 and beyond, nor does it assist the convenient sweeping under the rug one of the most heinous acts of a president in the republic’s history.
This is the sweet spot for this space. There is nothing quite like intraparty political intrigue, especially when it is so unabashedly cynical. Republicans have stated emphatically that they’re main objective is to win back the House and Senate, which is understandable if this were 2022, but we are four months into the new administration and 117th congress, and they have been tasked by their bosses, us, to legislate and debate and represent their districts and the nation at large. Spending all their time setting up for future political successes usually floats near the surface of this shallow pool, but this time it is the entire pool.
Again, Cheney is the most interesting political football for this battle to rescue a GOP hijacked by the Trump coalition. What used to be a problem for the United States is now squarely inside the Republican Party, as gutless lackies like Senators Lindsay Graham, Ted Cruz, and Congressman Mike McCarthy, jet down to Mar a Lago, Florida to kiss the ring of the Donald and gain bonafides with its base, mostly made up of science-denying, race-baiting, election-fraud minions. Because without these voters, as stated here before, there is no more Republican Party. And these voters are motivated not by infrastructure bills, foreign policy or systemic injustice, this is about culture wars and anti-woke rhetoric that fires their fears that their country is eroding.
There is no other place for the Republicans to go to remain in power. Following the Trump win in 2016, this maneuver has cost them two chambers of congress and the presidency, not to mention the previously sacred moral high ground, as well as being proponents of fiscal responsibility, intrepid geo-politics, and free trade that used to be the pillars of conservatism. No one knows what conservatism is anymore. Ronald Reagan would be a flaming liberal to this base.
Liz Cheney is a traditional Reagan Republican, daughter of former vice president Dick Cheney, not long ago the pro forma conservative. She represents the Bush wing, the suddenly dismissed identity of the party that was erected in the late 1970s and started to see cracks during the second half of an ongoing Iraq conflict that was openly challenged by Trump during the 2016 campaign in which he called George W. Bush a war criminal and anything to do with that war a sad mistake. It got so bad, during the general election Trump ran to the left of Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, who voted for the thing, and was a staunch proponent of the Reagan Doctrine.
Cheney, who in almost every respect, is a dyed in the wool old-world conservative, the kind that used be a big star in the party, but now due to her voicing her concerns Republicans have tied themselves to a violent, anti-American contingent is anathema. She represents an upside-down argument about what the party will stand for going forward, post-Trump, and she is not shy in stating it.
Behind the scenes Republicans like minority leader McCarthy have begun plans to remove her from any seats of influence within the caucus, quite literally expunging what is left of Reagan from the party and embracing the mythos of popularism and nativism and most importantly, for Cheney, reality. She recently wrote in a Washington Post op ed titled “The GOP is at a Turning Point” that “History is watching us.” Now, I’m sure of that, but certainly the long-term solvency of the Republican Party is. The short game to stick with the popular base movement is what put Democrats behind the bell curve in the late 1960s to early 70s. A radical left contingent gave rise to semi-electable candidates and quasi-governing officials, who in the long run could not pull in enough moderate and independent voters to stay relevant for long, leading to six years of Nixon and twelve years of Reagan/Bush, and eventually in the 1990s, losing the House for the first time in generations.
This is a far more polarized electorate now, but with a much heartier independent vote than ever before in American politics. Joe Biden got a hell of a lot of votes, yet in districts across the nation some Republicans shocked the pundits. Cheney sits on this split, and it is widening by the hour.
Lastly, it is deliciously hypocritical that a party that has gotten itself all in a tangle over what they deem is Cancel Culture, the practice of businesses, publishers, corporations, sports leagues and overly polite society taking little chips off of questionable to outright racist and misogynist content, etc, and cancelling it, is doing the same thing to Cheney. Missouri Senator Josh Hawley and Georgia Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene have been raising money and making a name for themselves by whining about what they deem is an attempt to silence them in this climate. Greene often wears a mask with “Free Speech” on it. Yet, they are smack dab in the coalition to silence Cheney simply because she ain’t going along with the plan.
And maybe silencing Cheney is the way to put that final nail in the coffin of the Republican Party as we had come to know it over the past forty to fifty years. It will be worth watching, for both entertainment and, yeah, for the future of governance in the United States for the next fifty.
© James Campion 5.10.21
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James Campion is the Managing Editor of The Reality Check News & Information Desk and the author of “Deep Tank Jersey”, “Fear No Art”, “Trailing Jesus”, "Midnight For Cinderella" and “Y”. +, “Shout It Out Loud – The Story of KISS’s Destroyer and the Making of an American Icon” + “Accidently Like a Martyr – The Tortured Art of Warren Zevon”
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