Liz Cheney caught Republican hell for doing one good thing.
The Wyoming representative earlier this month was ousted from her perch in the party’s leadership for daring to suggest the election was not rigged against former President Trump. In the weeks leading up to the vote to strip her of her standing as the third-most-powerful Republican in the House of Representatives, Cheney was attacked by her former allies, from House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) saying he’d “lost confidence” in her during a hot-mic moment on Fox News, to Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) flying to Wyoming to hold an anti-Cheney rally in front of her own constituents. (This was before news broke that Gaetz is under federal investigation for sex-trafficking a 17-year-old.)
The attacks scored Cheney some points with the anti-Trump crowd, but let’s review what actually happened here: She cleared the extremely low bar of acknowledging the legitimacy of a legitimate presidential election.
What Cheney is not willing to do is protect the legitimacy of the next election. Specifically, she’s not willing to oppose a spate of GOP-backed proposals that are exploiting Trump’s massive lie about 2020 to make it more difficult to vote in every election thereafter.
During a recent appearance on Axios on HBO, Cheney attempted to insulate this legislation from Trump by refusing to draw any connection between the former president’s drive to convince Americans their election systems are rigged and the ensuing rash of Republican bills to make it more difficult for people to vote in Georgia, Texas, and dozens of other states.
“I think you have to look at the specifics of each one of those efforts,” she said when Jonathan Swan pressed her on whether there was a connection. “I think everybody should want a situation and a system where people who ought to be able to vote and have the right to vote can vote, and people who don’t, shouldn’t.”
— Axios (@axios) May 23, 2021
Republicans trying to ensure that the people who “ought to be able to vote” represent their own interests is nothing new, but in the wake of the 2020 election they’ve been selling new, restrictive voting bills largely by claiming Americans no longer have faith in their voting systems. This lack of faith has been brought about, of course, by Trump’s repeated claims that these election systems are rigged.
As Swan points out, even Georgia’s Republican lieutenant governor, Geoff Duncan, admitted that the state’s new voting legislation didn’t pick up steam until Rudy Giuliani started railing about how the election was fraudulent. “This is really the fallout from the 10 weeks of misinformation that flew in from former President Donald Trump,” Duncan told CNN of the voting bill. “I went back over the weekend to really look at where this really started to gain momentum in the legislature, and it was when Rudy Giuliani showed up in a couple of committee rooms and spent hours spreading misinformation and sowing doubt across, you know, hours of testimony.”
Cheney’s interview with Axios serves as a reminder that even though she expressed regret for voting for Trump last November, there’s probably a reason she only chose to stop supporting one of the most destructive presidents in American history when it became clear he was on his way out of office. Former Rep. Justin Amash, one of the only Republicans to break from Trump during his term, stressed this point during a recent interview on the “Axe Files” podcast. “We had four years where she could have stood up and said, ‘There’s a problem here. What Donald Trump is doing is wrong,'” Amash said. “I think this effort to turn her into some sort of hero is a bit misguided.”
“One of the biggest problems we have in politics is that when someone is inconsistent like that, where they’re doing the wrong thing for four years and then they flip on a dime, there’s a tendency to turn them into heroes,” he continued. “I think that’s a huge problem because it lets people get away with things.”
Amash noted that the issue can be tricky has people must be allowed the opportunity to change. Cheney may have flipped on Trump, but her commitment to the anti-democratic ideals that helped put him in office in the first place is as rock-solid as it ever was.