In the run up to the 2020 Presidential Election, YouGov asked Americans what qualities they sought in their national leaders. Honesty, responsibility, competence and audacity ranked foremost among Democrats and Republicans alike. There is no modern American leader who exhibits these attributes more than Liz Cheney, the three-term Wyoming congresswoman who lost her bid for re-election this week.
Cheney, the daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney, is the latest republican to fall victim to Donald Trump’s revenge tour of those who voted to impeach him last year.
As the third-ranking republican in the House of Representatives, Liz Cheney was one of only ten republicans that voted to impeach President Trump, on the grounds he incited an insurrection at the US Capitol on January 6th, 2021. The incident sparked by Trump’s claims of election fraud saw thousands of his supporters storm the Capitol building in the heart of Washington, after he told them during a rally outside the White House to march to the Capitol and “stop the steal”.
For the first time since the Civil War confederate flags, scorched by their history of hate, were flown in the corridors of power. Trump’s supporters breached the Senate chamber and chanted “hang [Vice President] Mike Pence” – who was hidden in an undisclosed location in the Capitol – as makeshift gallows were erected on the congressional lawns outside.
Protestors defaced the office of the House Speaker, Nancy Pelosi, while her aides barricaded the door of her inner office and trembled under a table where the Speaker would usually converse with dignitaries and heads of government.
Utah Senator Mitt Romney, who was the Republican Presidential Nominee in 2012, came within metres of the president’s bloody-thirsty supporters.
Five people, including Capitol police officer Brian Sicknick, were killed.
Last month, in some of the most high stakes Congressional testimony in history, an aide to the President told the House select committee investigating the attack that on that day in January, that the President attempted to grab the wheel of his presidential limousine and direct it toward the Capitol. When the president’s arm was pushed back by a secret service agent, foaming at the mouth, the President assaulted the agent.
This was the most sickening dereliction of duty by a president in American history. Trump was swiftly and rightly impeached by the House of Representatives. Though he was acquitted by his spineless republican sycophants in a Senate trial later that month, he now seeks revenge on the so-called RINO (Republican in name only) republicans who honoured their oath and refused to comply with his baseless claims that the election was rigged.
It was Liz Cheney’s turn to face the voters of Wyoming this week. Despite a strong conservative record and her father previously representing the state in the House also, that was not enough to fend off the scourge of Donald Trump – a man who has become the sole kingmaker in the Republican party.
Liz Cheney is one to be admired. In the fight to liberate republicanism from the torment of Trumpism, she has lost perhaps more than most. Last year, House republicans voted to sack her from her position as Chairman of the Republican Conference – the third most powerful republican position in the House and a position held also by the titan that is her father.
Cheney could have assumed a vow of silence. Like so many of her colleagues she could have chosen to peddle the big lie that Joe Biden rigged the election and stole it from Donald Trump. She could have embraced a populist and extremist message and road the Trump train to the Speakership of the House.
Instead, she placed principle over politics and her country above her career. She honoured her oath to the ‘support and defend the Constitution…against all enemies foreign and domestic’. There is no contemporary politician more audacious than Liz Cheney, more honest, more honourable, more responsible. And, yet she finds herself, out of a job and out of place in the present Republican Party.
If the views of the American people on what their president should be like transpired into election results, then Liz Cheney would be elected President by a Reagan-style landslide. Of course, they don’t, and she won’t.
In the face of defeat on Tuesday, Cheney respected the will of Wyoming and the majesty of its democracy. She served with integrity and will depart with dignity.
That’s how it should be. That’s how it must be, once again.