Political Servitude or American Democracy
Liz Cheney defines the choice.
Last week, Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) made headlines with a bold speech she delivered at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, California. In it, the congresswoman denounced GOP leaders as serving as “willing hostages to this dangerous and irrational man,” referring, of course, to former president Trump.
Speaking more broadly to her party, she added, “We have to choose, because Republicans cannot be loyal to Donald Trump and to the Constitution.”
The line received roaring applause from those in attendance. Unsurprisingly, the response was dismissed by the usual media suspects on the MAGA right as “elitist” sentiment from “GOP establishment” types, but the more we learn from the ongoing January 6 committee hearings (in the form of sworn testimony from mostly Trump-supporting Republicans, including several in his administration), the clearer it has become that Cheney’s ultimatum is explicitly true.
Donald Trump went to extraordinary — possibly illegal — lengths to overturn an election he had unequivocally lost. His two-month campaign to topple U.S. democracy caused a deadly insurrection at the U.S. Capitol that he, for hours, resisted doing anything to stop. And to this day, he continues to spread the grotesque lie that the presidency, as the result of mass corruption, was literally stolen from him.
To remain loyal to Donald Trump, one has to lend weight and legitimacy to that lie, or at best overlook or defend the man’s attempted mutilation of the U.S. Constitution, while remaining open to giving him a second shot at doing it again. To remain loyal to Donald Trump, one has to bastardize and help purge from the party individuals (including lifelong conservatives and even longtime Trump loyalists) who, when faced with the decision Cheney spoke of last week, chose their country and its rule of law.
I anger a number of regular readers whenever I write about this topic. They reliably accuse me of suffering from “Trump Derangement Syndrome” or parroting “left-wing talking points” or providing aid and comfort to “the enemy” (aka the Democrats). In fact, I bet a number of them have already scrolled down to the comment section to type exactly that.
They insist, even after all that’s happened, that Trump’s greatest sin as president was his “mean tweets”, and that by continuing to highlight the very real damage he has inflicted to our democratic system, people like me are actually prolonging his political relevance, while trivializing our country’s “real” problems.
It would be amusing if it wasn’t so sad.
Believe me, I wish that all it took for the GOP to end its pathetic, self-harming servitude to Donald Trump was people like me refraining from writing about the GOP’s pathetic, self-harming servitude to Donald Trump. But something tells me that the RNC, top Republicans in the U.S. Congress, countless Trump toadies in the right-wing media, and the large number of Republican primary candidates tripping over each other (and saying whatever crazy thing it takes) to get the former president’s endorsement aren’t all that influenced by us.
I also wish that if I dedicated more full-length columns to President Biden’s ineptitude and bad policies (which the polls confirm few Americans need convincing of), complex problems like post-pandemic inflation would magically go away.
(On a related note, I’ve been sounding the alarm on runaway government spending on this website for over a decade now, and for some odd reason, many of you didn’t think it was a problem from early 2017 to early 2021).
It would also be great if my fellow righties would take a step back and consider what they’re saying when they accuse conservatives like me, who speak out in defense of the Constitution and U.S. democracy (against those who defy both), of aligning with the Democrats. Are those really positions you’re prepared to cede to the left? Pro-Constitution and pro-democracy? If so, the situation within the Republican party is even worse than I thought.
Truth be to told, what compelled me to write this week about the “choice” Cheney discussed wasn’t actually her speech, nor was it anything from the January 6 committee hearings. It was the comments a number of you wrote on July 4 on this website (and its corresponding Patreon and Substack pages), in response to Bernie’s Independence Day column.
Many of those comments proudly hailed the importance and sanctity of American democracy, freedom, and traditions. And nearly all of them were left by individuals who regularly deny, dismiss, or defend the former president’s unprecedented assaults on all three, while voicing deep irritation with those who don’t. The same contradictions presented themselves across social media and cable news.
Just imagine if all those who preached the gospel of American constitutional exceptionalism held true to those principles when it really mattered, regardless of who it helped or hurt politically... you know, the way Liz Cheney has.
The country, and any party that embraced such conviction, would be much better off.