Liz Cheney’s lonely fight against the extremist wing of the GOP

It shouldn’t make headlines when a member of Congress upholds their sworn oath to “support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic.” But Rep. Liz Cheney, R.-Wyo., stands out as one of the few elected Republicans in Washington willing to put country before party.

The vice chair of the House Select Committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol understands that the peaceful transfer of power is the linchpin of our democracy. She also fully grasps the historic importance of ensuring accountability for the months-long effort by Donald Trump and his minions to steal the 2020 presidential election that culminated in the deadly insurrection at the Capitol.


During the hearings last week and on Monday, Cheney plowed ahead, despite her Republican colleagues’ obstinance, to follow the facts, speak truth to power, and shine a light on Trump’s seditious actions. Cheney used clear language and the video testimony of Trump officials and his own family to show the former president knew the election was not stolen but nevertheless continued to press the Big Lie.

Cheney’s patriotic focus on Trump’s attempted coup has come at great professional and personal cost, including death threats. The daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney had been a rising star in the Republican Party. But the GOP ousted Cheney from a leadership post, and she could lose her seat to a Trump-backed challenger in the Wyoming primary on Aug. 16.

Polls show Cheney trailing Harriet Hageman by as much as 30 points. Hageman, who once called Trump “racist and xenophobic,” now says “he was the greatest president of my lifetime.” Hageman’s decision to put fealty to Trump above the Constitution is a sad example of how low some candidates will go to gain power.

The Inquirer Editorial Board does not typically agree with Cheney’s policy positions. She is a hard-line conservative who voted with Trump 93% of the time. But we agree that Trump is a danger to democracy, which is why we’re taking the unusual step of endorsing Cheney in the upcoming congressional primary.

While most of our readers can’t vote for Cheney, they can donate to her campaign, send a message of support, encourage friends in her district to vote for her, and talk with friends and family about the ongoing threat to democracy that the Trump wing of the GOP represents.

Friday will mark the 50th anniversary of the Watergate break-in, which led to President Richard Nixon’s resignation. Nixon’s abuse of power and obstruction of justice were also a threat to democracy and the rule of law, but Republicans in Congress placed the Constitution and country above politics. Their actions were bolstered by public opinion shaped by the same set of facts. In today’s America, where right-wing pundits spin the truth Trump’s way on Fox News and the internet, it’s more difficult to reach consensus.

Cheney’s lonely fight for her fellow Republicans’ support suggests Congress cannot be counted on this time.

If the House Select Committee’s attempt to bring Trump to justice fails, it will be left to voters to remind candidates and incumbents who have dismissed the ongoing attack on our democracy that the people will have the last word.

— The Philadelphia Inquirer

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