You have to wonder what Liz Cheney feels her relationship to the Republican Party to be today.
Having spent years denouncing Donald Trump as a faux Republican and a disgrace to the party, much of the past year implicitly accusing him of treason as vice-chair of the January 6 Committee and the two months since her defeat in the Wyoming primary characterizing half (at least) of the GOP as “very sick,” she is co-sponsoring a bill with Representative Zoe Lofgren, a California Democrat, to reform the Electoral Count Act in order to “protect the rule of law and ensure that future efforts to attack the integrity of presidential elections can’t succeed.”
Representative Lofgren was one of seven impeachment managers in President Trump’s trial for his first impeachment in 2020. As of a year ago she had voted with President Biden 100 percent of time; five years before, she called the (female) head of the US Commission of Civil Rights a “bigot” for saying that identifying oneself as female cannot change biological fact.
Surely, you might have thought, Cheney could have found a co-sponsor for her bill among liberal members of the Republican Party, rather than link a comradely arm with a radical California Democrat… before you reflected that by her relentless attacks on Trump and her insults paid to half of her own party she has probably alienated — perhaps forever — the large majority of it, few if any of whom wish to be associated with her publicly, let alone in connection with an election reform bill.
Until last summer Cheney had confined her criticism to Donald Trump, conveying the impression that her objections to the man are personal rather than philosophical, the exception being his reversal of the Bush administration’s interventionist foreign and nation-building policies on behalf of global democracy.
That changed when, a month or so ago, she announced her equal disapproval of Governor Ron DeSantis as a political clone of Trump and thus a major figure in the MAGA movement she despises.
It is entirely reasonable, of course, to argue that Trump is temperamentally unfit to hold the presidency again, that his quest for the nomination in 2024 has become wholly personal and beyond quixotic and that it risks returning President Biden (or another Democrat) to the White House and giving the donkeys full control of the House and Senate.
But this is not what the lady, formerly of Wyoming, is suggesting. Clearly, she has in mind recreating the Republican Party of the first decade of the twenty-first century and establishing it securely in Washington, DC. But that party does not exist today, its constituent elements having dispersed, died or simply vanished, and it cannot be put back together again. It is now substantially the party of Trumpism, with or without the man himself. Liberal Republicans like the Cheneys must needs make their peace with the fact — or cross over to the Democrats, or found a new party. Which will they choose?
Representative Cheney appears to be confronting this new political reality: at a conference in Texas on Saturday, she said of Trump: “If he is the nominee, I won’t be a Republican.” She also declared war on the GOP candidate for Arizona governor, saying, “I am going to do everything I can to make sure that Kari Lake is not elected.” Does that include potentially campaigning for Democrats? “Yes, it does.”
Perhaps Liz Cheney calculates that by attacking the MAGA Republicans while forging links with the Democrats, she can attract voters in sufficient numbers from both the major parties to assemble a third party, led (of course) by herself. If so, she is even more politically unrealistic and inept than she has shown herself to be over the past twelve months.
Still, La Cheney is likely to become in the end yet another example of the truth of my maxim that once one achieves success — position, fame, money — in any field of endeavor in America, one is fixed for life thereafter, come what may. If politics fails her, there will always be a lucrative position awaiting in some well-endowed and well-connected enterprise. Liz Cheney, get thee to a think tank: conservative, liberal or — whatever!