By Ousting Liz Cheney, GOP Chooses The Big Lie & Trump Over Truth
Let’s be clear from the start: Representative Liz Cheney is not a friend of the Democratic Party, she’s not a member of ‘The Resistance’ and she’s not remotely left-wing. This isn’t about Cheney’s loyalty to the Republican Party. She’s never abandoned it. In fact, her voting record shows that she voted in line with former President Donald Trump 93% of the time. What drew the anger of the MAGA wing of her party and forced her out of her position as House GOP conference chair was that she simply committed the cardinal sin among Republicans of telling the truth.
A circular firing squad of Trump-supporting politicians surrounded Cheney and eliminated her from power, not because she turned her back on the GOP or impeded its agenda or sided with Democrats. Cheney was demonized by a party she has fought for her entire career because she refused to push the ‘Big Lie’ that the 2020 election was stolen and for voting to impeach Trump after his words and actions incited an attack on the US Capitol. The Wyoming politician refused to join her sycophantic colleagues and bend the knee to Trump despite the role he played in the US Capitol being breached by attackers for the first time since the British invaded it in the war of 1812.
Ever since Donald Trump rose to the top of the Republican Party through pushing falsehoods, disinformation, and whipping up anger against minorities with lie-filled tirades, politicians have sought to follow in his footsteps for political gain, with GOP lawmakers ensuring that Trumpism remains despite its creator having been removed from power. Unfortunately for Cheney, this new breed of GOP politician means that the truth is no longer allowed to reign in the Republican Party, all that can exist is the fictional world of alternative facts that they have created.
When Kevin McCarthy, the top Republican in the House of Representatives, turned on Cheney on Fox News, he showed the true reason for ousting her loud and clear. He declared that, due to her actions, she had failed to present a united front against Democrats. If that was true, why would his pick to replace her be Elise Stefanik, who only voted with Trump and the GOP 77% of the time in the last Congress? While Cheney defended Trump’s actions prior to the 2020 election, Stefanik had spent her years in Congress initially portraying herself as a moderate, new wave Republican but all that matters in the GOP of 2021 is that they show fealty and bend the knee to the former president and his incendiary brand of politics.
The fact is the only real way in which Cheney broke ranks was by defending democracy and standing by the truth when it came to the final days of the Trump presidency. Stefanik’s vehement opposition of impeachment and passionate pushing of the ‘Big Lie’ makes her the perfect candidate for House leadership in a party where loyalty to Trump is more important than loyalty to the party.
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Speaking on the eve of her removal, Cheney defiantly stood her ground. She declared that “those who refuse to accept the rulings of our courts are at war with the Constitution,” hitting back at her GOP critics by claiming their actions violate their sworn oath “to prevent the unraveling of our democracy.” As Cheney noted in what was her last public speech as House GOP conference chair, “this is not about policy [and] this is not about partisanship.” This has nothing to do with whether you agree with the Wyoming politician’s political views or actions pushing right-wing Republican ideals. This is about the “duty” of members of Congress to oppose any attempts, from any party and any politician, including the GOP’s former leader, to undermine America’s democratic process.
“Remaining silent and ignoring the lie emboldens the liar” was Cheney’s warning. The problem is, while a small number of Republicans like herself recognize that, the majority of the GOP in Congress now seeing pushing crazy conspiracy theories and dangerous lies as a core part of their political career. To exist and rise to the top of the Republican Party in 2021, you have to support the rambling tirades that still come from Trump’s desk. The GOP can’t pretend that it stands for conservative principles anymore. It’s just a cult of personality nowadays.
Former Republican Representative Denver Riggleman, who was ousted by a Trump-supporter last year, explained it clearly during an appearance on MSNBC. Riggleman explained the MAGA wing’s approach is “to say things you don’t believe in, as long as that leads to a win.” Many thought that this behavior would be curtailed by the defeat of Trump but, alas, the GOP has made it clear that their goal in Congress is to maintain it in the hope they can replicate his rise to prominence in the 2016 presidential contest. The mistake Republicans are making in this is that the public made clear in an overwhelming vote that they have no interest in entertaining it any longer, seeking a return to a more normal type of political discourse.
In his letter laying out his supposed reasoning for holding a vote on recalling Cheney as House GOP conference chair, McCarthy claimed that Republicans are “a big tent party” and “embrace free thought and debate” but the truth is far from it. The GOP is Trump’s party. It has been since the primaries kicked off in 2015, as Republicans, one after another, got in line to back him and enable him. The vote to remove Cheney from the House leadership shows that it still the position of the majority of Republicans in Congress, fealty to Trump, bending the knee at Mar-a-Lago and refusing to accept reality are now more important than defending the ideological principles of the party they belong to.
The idea that by defeating Trump, his stain on the GOP would be wiped clean was misguided. He might be gone from office but his agenda, his lies, his damaging impact on politics remains, fuelled constantly by the likes of McCarthy and Stefanik. There is no place in the GOP for the likes of Cheney or Senator Mitt Romney or the late Senator John McCain anymore. Trump will have control of the Republican Party while his enablers continue to do his bidding. Truth cannot prevail in a party that believes, above all else, they must bow down to a man who built his career by brazenly lying for political gain.