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Home of the Brave: Liz Cheney’s Call to Arms

Liz Cheney lost her primary in Wyoming last night. As she said in her concession speech, it would have been easy for her to win it. All she had to do was give herself to Trumpism and all that it stands for.

I don’t want anyone to come away from this loss freaking out about the power of Trump. Wyoming is a sparsely populated state of very conservative people. Some of the powerful in Wyoming are members of the Oath Keepers, the paramilitary group that was so active in the January 6 insurrection. In a way, Trump owns Wyoming. Wyoming voters may come to regret that fact sooner than later.

Liz Cheney has a fatwa on her head decreed by Donald Trump and no less deadly than the one on Salman Rushdie. During her primary campaign, Liz Cheney has had to travel the state with a security detail. Her campaign stops have had to be conducted in private.

Such is Wyoming, a state of 581,348 people. Only Alaska has fewer people per square mile. Cheney is a conservative’s conservative. She knew how to play the political game when she was first elected and was more than happy to vote against healthcare and same sex marriage. That last one stung her own sister who is married to a woman. They’ve since reconciled but that’s the price Liz Cheney was willing to pay in order to win in Wyoming.

I think her most significant and troubling vote to date was the one against renewing the Voting Rights Act. Well, now she has time to rethink some of her choices since the continual chipping away of the protections of that act may end up being a deciding factor on who wins the White House in 2024. Wyoming doesn’t need to go out of its way to protect the voting rights of its small minority populations but the rest of the country does.

Primaries attract the most energized and passionate party faithful. So I’m not getting too wound up about so many Wyoming Republican libertarian traditionalist voters with exposure to few media outlets picking a new congresswoman to represent them. They chose someone more to their liking, someone they could invite to a barbecue. Someone who they could socialize with and who wouldn’t challenge their concept of themselves.

Wyoming was the first state to allow women to vote. Its motto is “Equal Rights”. It’s safe to say that Wyoming no longer stands for equal rights for all and Liz Cheney went along with that on her meteoric rise to the #3 leadership position of the House Republican caucus. I’m not saying that she’s going to experience an epiphany or regret her votes. She’s never going to be a Democrat and I don’t want her cohort migrating to the Democratic Party. The Never Trumpers need to either take back their own party or start a new one.

Never Trump is definitely under represented in Wyoming but it has a significant pull elsewhere. These are Cheney’s people now. She has shown she deserved to be in her leadership position. And now that she’s freed from the constraints of having to serve the ultra conservative voters of an ultra conservative state, we might see a Cheney who will turn to the side of equal rights, land of the free and home of the brave.

She can lead on her own terms now.

Go get him, Liz.

Here’s her concession speech:

What the Liz Cheney Defeat Should Emphasize For Us

I wasn’t able to watch all of Liz Cheney’s concession speech in Wyoming, but what I did hear was impressive, and even heartening.

She spoke of the task continuing; of going forward; of Abraham Lincoln being defeated in his race for Senate in 1858,, before being elected President in 1860. General Grant, after winning a battle at great cost of life, not turning his army back toward Washington, but going forward into the Confederate stronghold of Richmond, and on to triumph in the Civil War.

I was glad to see that she appears to have no intention of retiring from the battle for the survival of America. I don’t say, “retiring from politics,” because the battle is far more important than that.

I certainly do not agree with her on the vast majority of issues. I thought that her father was a threat to the kind of democracy I hope for, but she is better than he is, and both of them are better than Trump and his corps of fascists, zombies and ghouls.

As a pragmatic matter, Cheney would appear to have no chance to ever win another election in Wyoming. Trump won 70-30% in that state, and the people of Wyoming will vote for whatever Trump wants. So, assuming that she would not try to establish residency in another state, she is very unlikely to ever hold elective office. Could Biden appoint her to something? It is possible, but I don’t think it would be something either would feel comfortable doing.

It is speculated that she might want to launch a run for President. But how? As a Republican? She would never get the nomination, though she could go after Trump from that spot. But she would not be welcome, she would be booed and threatened. I don’t think that very many people from this literal Republican cult want to hear what she might have to say about Trump and his cohort.

Could she run as an Independent? Yes, but I think she would be more likely to damage the Democratic candidate than the Republican. Some of the smallish group of “never-Trumpers” would likely vote for her, whereas they might vote for Biden otherwise. I don’t think that she would be taking any Trump votes. So while her voice is very important, as a presidential candidate, she likely would not help to stop the fascists in that way, and might inadvertently enable them to win.

The crucial thing to understand is that Republicans have become a frightening monolith. There is no room for diversity of opinion. They will vote exactly the same way, say the same things in every situation. They should save us the time, and issue their speeches via mimeograph. There is not a single bit of room for anyone who disagrees with or opposes the Trump agenda.

There were ten Republicans in the House who voted for Trump’s impeachment. Eight of them have either retired, or were defeated in primaries. They will be systematically purged from the party, and the conservative anti-Trumpers in the ranks of the punditry face purging as well. They will be threatened, their lives made so miserable, that they will go away. That is the Republicans’ goal, a completely homogeneous group of people who literally perform like the zombies of fiction.

That is frightening in many ways, of course. I was never someone who supported Republicans, though there were a few in office that I somewhat admired. Senators like Richard Lugar, Chuck Hegel, William Cohen. There are really not any like that in the Senate now. They almost always vote as a rigid bloc in the Senate and House. Every single Republican House member voted against the Inflation Reduction Act, and that is just one of many examples. Soon there will be absolute unanimity among every Republican on every vote.

What that means is, that even if Republicans hold 218 out of 435 House seats, that will be enough to control the voting there, and try to shut down the government. There will not be the dozen, or even five, Republicans who would vote with the Democrats on anything. We had become used to that for many years; there was always the chance that a vote might not go the way of the party which held the slim majority. I don’t think that this will still be the case. Count up the Republicans, and that’s how many votes their side will get on every bill or issue.

So if Republicans win the House, as is likely, they will make it something between frustrating and nightmarish. They will try to shut down the government every year and probably actually do it. We saw as far back as the Tea Party era, that they had no compunction about doing it, they do not care. Their only goals are to destroy Democrats, get Biden out of office, cause such despair and chaos that they can use it for their power and financial gain. That sounds very dark, but I really think that this is where the Republicans are at this point.

Now, it does look like the Democrats will hold the Senate, and perhaps gain a few seats. That would be very important, in that it would allow Biden to push any judicial or executive appointment through. It would ensure that the House Republicans could not pass any bills through. We would be at a legislative stalemate. The hope would be that the number of Democrats in the House would be large enough, that we could win the majority back in 2024. I think that is a reasonable hope, though we of course hope that we can somehow beat the odds and win the House now. Lose the Senate, and they will block every single Biden appointment.

We know that a Republican House will also hold hearing after hearing on anything they want to concoct for propaganda purposes. They will probably investigate their Democratic members: Schiff, Swalwell, and others. We will have to spend our time ignoring it, rather than getting upset; and focus on the next elections.

What happened in the election yesterday did not change much of anything. It did not increase Republican power, and it did not increase their chances at winning elections. It just emphasized what they have become, and the threat they pose.

Liz Cheney is deserving of credit for her courage in standing up to Trump’s assault on democracy and freedom, and I do hope that she will continue to do so, I will miss her if she does not. But she cannot save the democracy, only Democrats and people voting for Democrats can do that. We have to be sure not to be fooled into thinking that an Independent candidate will help us, and voting for him or her. They always siphon more votes from the Democratic candidate. We should know that by now, but there are some people who will need to have it emphasized to them again. We welcome any non-Democrat who will put aside traditional loyalties, and do what respected Republican strategist Stuart Stevens said tonight: vote for the only party which wants to protect American Democracy.