Nonetheless, Liz Cheney Persisted
She is standing athwart MAGA history, yelling “Stop!” Even if you’re a liberal, it’s worth acknowledging the stones that takes.
Troublemakers. We need them in our personal lives, as well as in our politics. Not during normal times, when nice, normal people employing nice, normal solutions are sufficient and usually preferred. But during tumultuous times, when it takes a stubborn pain in the ass to punch a bully in the nose. Liz Cheney is the exact kind of troublemaker that the Republican Party desperately needs, but is too decadent to support.
During times like these, we need someone who is so full of piss and vinegar that she, in this case, will relish the fight more than peaceful coexistence and comfort. We have finally found someone who is willing to be unreasonable and suffer the consequences. That someone is Liz Cheney. It is now assumed that Cheney will be replaced as No. 3 in House leadership by Rep. Elise Stefanik, who’s much less conservative but also much more of a MAGA loyalist. Not only that, but Cheney looks vulnerable to a primary challenge back home in Wyoming, according to a recent survey conducted by now-Trumpy The Club for Growth.
I hope I’m alive to see the GOP someday turn and support a strong leader who wasn’t tainted by the Trump years. Cheney would be in a class by herself. By doing good, she could do well (in the long run). But make no mistake, she is making a huge sacrifice. She has a lot to lose.
It has been observed that Cheney is tougher than the Republican men who criticize her, but this isn’t entirely surprising. You might recall that Carly Fiorina was really the only 2016 primary rival able to go toe-to-toe with Trump and not eventually back down. For a time, Nikki Haley managed the difficult task of holding her own with Trump. For reasons that escape me, she then morphed into a complete sycophant.
Cheney’s lineage is also a significant asset, not just in stature but also in training and experience. Can you appreciate what it must have been like growing up in the home of Dick and Lynne Cheney? Their children must have had to develop a thick skin early on.
Being ornery is normally considered a bad thing. Recall, for example, that Cheney had the moxie to think she could up and move back to Wyoming and muscle Sen. Mike Enzi out of his safely red seat. She ultimately backed down from that decision, but the audacity behind the attempt demonstrates what I’m talking about. Normal rule-followers bide their time, pay their dues, fall in line, and kiss the ring. Not Liz Cheney (thank God). During times of crisis, the stubborn pain in the ass doesn’t kiss ass. In Cheney, I see Winston Churchill-meets-Margaret Thatcher.
This puts her in a lonely place. Right after Jan. 6, House GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy said Trump “bears responsibility” for the insurrection. As Cheney points out, he has since “changed his story.” There’s a lot of range between the McCarthys of the world and the Cheneys. He reassessed and reoriented his opinion to comply with popular Republican opinion, while Cheney stubbornly clung to objective reality, regardless of what others thought.
The problem with McCarthy’s model is that it creates perverse incentives where, as Hayek said, “the worst get on top.” We now have a Republican Party that is angrier at Cheney for saying there was an insurrection than at Trump for inciting one. We have a Republican Party where Matt Gaetz and Marjorie Taylor Greene are beloved—and where Mitt Romney is booed and Liz Cheney is run out of her leadership position. During times like these, we all should applaud their “profiles in courage.”
Liz Cheney is standing athwart MAGA history, yelling “Stop!” Even if you’re a liberal, it’s worth acknowledging the stones that takes.
When the deck is stacked against them, normal ambitious people accept reality and go along to get along. They focus on self-preservation and take the path of least resistance. They don’t make waves. During normal times, these people make good partners and employees. They get up every day and try to get along, ride out the storm, and plod ahead.
That’s sort of what Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell (and everyone else) eventually did. They appeased Trump, assuming they could manage (or survive) him—just like he knew they would. In doing so, they played right into his hands. Nevertheless, Liz Cheney persisted.
Not every hill is worth dying on. There are plenty of times in life when it’s wiser to accept the world as it is. If you’ve managed to hold down a job for an extended period of time, you are probably familiar with this concept. But during certain times of crisis, going along to get along isn’t just dangerous—it’s cowardly. Edmund Burke never actually said, “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” That’s a pithier version of something he wrote, but the words are no less true. It’s a sentiment that is also captured in the modern woke slogan, “Silence is violence.”
I don’t quite agree. Silence (and I suspect Burke would be with me on this) is not violence. But during certain inflection points, if you’re not a part of the solution, you might as well be part of the problem. To paraphrase the philosopher John McClane: Quit being a part of the problem.
When Liz Cheney says “history is watching,” she’s making that same point.