Liz Cheney is not a bug, but a feature of the GOP. She is not an exception, but the rule. The exceptions are those few members who actually fight for the major tenets of the party's platform in a meaningful way. Unfortunately, Cheney is well within the mainstream of the party on so many issues except for her open defiance of Trump. As such, when left to their own devices, the GOP will replace her with someone like Elise Stefanik … who is even more liberal.
The beauty of the Democratic Party is that Democrats appoint leaders and committee chairs and nominate people to high offices who not only believe in their party's agenda to the core, but are their most vociferous fighters. Republicans, on the other hand, have their most liberal members in leadership and as committee chairs at the federal and state levels. Their health care chair will be someone who champions government-run health care. Their judiciary chair in a given state legislature will often be someone who supports open borders and is pro-criminal. Thus, the problem with Liz Cheney as House conference chair is not an aberration, but the general rule.
The good news is that conservatives are finally willing to eject Republicans from leadership positions who are out of step with our values. Certainly, for Cheney to support impeaching Trump under the notion that he is criminally responsible for what happened on January 6 should make her unfit to lead the conference. But what about a Republican who believes we need to be in Afghanistan forever? What about supporting COVID fascism, open borders, and the transgender agenda? Or, in the case of Cheney, let's not forget that she supported candidates against conservative members like Thomas Massie. In fact, Cheney's tweet praising Fauci at a time when he destroyed our civilization is more offensive to me than even her vote for impeachment:
Dr. Fauci is one of the finest public servants we have ever had. He is not a partisan. His only interest is saving… https://t.co/iHiIxEDl9q— Liz Cheney (@Liz Cheney) 1589331291.0
Dick Cheney says WEAR A MASK. #realmenwearmasks https://t.co/iBfVoa7ypL— Liz Cheney (@Liz Cheney) 1593198154.0
In other words, we should not only focus on who kisses up to Trump as a person but who reflects the agenda for which the Republican voters sent Trump himself to the presidency. If we internalize that message, we'd understand that Elise Stefanik is not who we want to replace Cheney. Why should we have to settle on one of two bad choices?
Elise Stefanik, who now has the backing of Trump to replace Cheney as conference chair, is so liberal she even voted against the Trump tax cuts that were supported by even the typical liberal Republicans. Unlike Cheney, she has cozied up to Trump as a person, but that should not be our priority headed forward. She has co-sponsored "Dream" amnesty and voted for Big Agriculture amnesty. She was even one of 14 Republicans who voted to terminate Trump's emergency declaration at the border and was one of 11 Republicans who voted to override his funding of the border wall!
Stefanik is terrible on social issues. She was one of just eight Republicans who voted for the original "Equality Act" codifying transgenderism into civil rights, now promoted by Biden and Pelosi. Stefanik has been a consistent supporter of the transgender agenda. She also supported a local D.C. bill that would have forced pro-life groups to pay for abortions. In 2015, Congress had an opportunity to nullify the D.C. municipal law when Republicans were in the majority, but she voted against it.
Even on some of the energy issues that tend to unite both wings of the party, Stefanik joined with Democrats. She joined just two other Republicans in voting for the Climate Action Now Act, which would have forced Trump to stay in the Paris climate accord, and voted to block Trump's plan to drill for oil in the Eastern Gulf of Mexico.
Indeed, the Liz Cheney problem extends to many Republicans, but even more so to Elise Stefanik. Why is it that you can be a liberal on immigration, social issues, taxes, and energy, yet as long as you praise Trump, you are fit to lead the party that is supposed to fight against those ideals?
This is the broader problem within the party. Republicans control 31 state legislatures, 19 of them with supermajorities. Yet it's so hard to pass conservative legislation because almost all the leaders and committee chairs are liberal on the issues that matter. Ditto for most Republican governors.
The dirty little secret is that there are Liz Cheneys in the majority of leadership positions in the GOP across the country. The only difference is that, in some way, Cheney is at least principled enough to stand by her views publicly, whereas the others remain undocumented Democrats and escape the ire of the base voters.
In reality, the fight over Liz Cheney should be a wake-up call to conservatives to make the upcoming primaries truly the most important election of our lifetime, especially at the state level where these issues matter most. Our republic will not rise or fall based on who is the third-ranking member of the GOP conference in an irremediably broken Congress. However, our future will depend on creating constitutional sanctuaries in red states, with leaders who actually represent our values. That begins with understanding where we went wrong. We didn't just appoint GOP leaders who opposed us on style and personality, but on the core values that matter at any given time.
In other words, many more Republicans in every red state need to be given the Liz Cheney treatment.