Liz Cheney's ouster from the House Republican leadership has prompted many observers to say that the Wyoming representative is headed to the "political wilderness." This assumes that the Republican Party is itself a civilization and not some decaying political entity about to be buried under the lava of its craziness.
The Donald Trump personality cult may have gotten its way for now, but Cheney's story is just beginning. The few sane Republicans left, Cheney among them, are now vowing a fight to remove the Trumpian scourge from their party -- while others talk of abandoning the ship they see as too far gone and forming a third party.
One of the party's most serious conservatives, Cheney remains totally unrepentant about condemning former President Donald Trump's "big lie" that the election was stolen. She is said to have big plans to confront Trump head-on and march on the media to drive home her message. And, yes, she is running for reelection and willing to face the possibility of losing the Republican nomination to a Trumpian clone. That would be another big story starring her.
Trump's own acting attorney general, Jeffrey Rosen, just said that the Justice Department had found no evidence of widespread voter fraud in the 2020 election. That sort of truth-telling finds no resonance in the cultish depths, a place so cracked that Arizona Republicans have conspiracy theorists examining last year's ballots for traces of bamboo. That would be evidence, they say, that fake votes from Asia invaded Arizona on Election Day, thus tainting the final count. Good lord.
As the never-Trump conservative Tom Nichols lamented on "The Bulwark Podcast," many of the Republicans endorsing Trump's fraudulent claims that he won the election are not stupid. As an example, Nichols said, former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum "was perfectly capable of mimicking normal human behavior" before disgracing himself as an unprincipled promoter of Trump's lunacy.
"But," Nichols added, these Republicans are now "like addicts ... in a co-dependent relationship with other addicts where they need to just keep giving each other bigger and bigger hits of crazy." They're on a hamster wheel.
A group of over 100 Republicans have joined to demand that the party take Trump off its altar and threaten to form a third party if it doesn't. These prominent Republican former officials include governors, members of Congress, ambassadors and state party chairmen.
Cheney echoed their call for a patriotic defense of the democracy. "Remaining silent and ignoring the lie emboldens the liar," she said in a fiery address on the House floor. "I will not participate in that. I will not sit back and watch in silence while others lead our party down a path that abandons the rule of law and joins the former president's crusade to undermine our democracy."
Republican Barbara Comstock, former congresswoman from Virginia, defended Cheney thusly: "I think Liz understands it's not worth selling your soul for No. 3 in the minority. She's just not going to do that."
Trump says that "Liz Cheney is a bitter, horrible human being" and "has no personality." The Trump base swimming in the muck of post-truth nihilism may nod in a servile manner, but then there's most of the country.
Cheney is doing more than not selling her soul. Republicans may expel her from the position of House Republican conference chair, but in terms of national importance, she's going nowhere but up.
Liz Cheney is not headed for the political wilderness. She is destined for the history books. Her politics are not mine, but she's on the road to becoming a towering American political figure. One could say she's already arrived.
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