Representative Liz Cheney lost the Republic House primary in Wyoming on August 16th, despite being an incumbent and serving the state since 2019. However, the loss wasn’t surprising. Cheney voted to impeach Trump in 2021, a move that the GOP considered betrayal. Wyoming was not willing to forgive her, nor forgive her most recent criticisms of Trump, and polls predicted her loss. However, the ex-congresswoman has her eye on something bigger.
Cheney has been receiving a lot of liberal media praise for her denouncement of Trump, despite her aggressively conservative views. She’s gaining a lot of support, and her comments on the former president seem to be a precursor to something much more significant. Liz Cheney wants to run for president.
Liz Cheney began her crusade against Donald Trump in January of 2021, when she announced that she would vote to impeach Trump for his responsibility in the January 6th insurrection. She was incredibly outspoken about his hand in the uprising, stating that, “There has never been a greater betrayal by a President of the United States of his office and his oath to the Constitution.” She was one of only 10 house Republicans to vote for against the president in Trump’s second round of impeachments.
In May, she began to be publicly criticized by Republican leaders, such as House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy, for going against the “message” of the GOP. Cheney responded with a “defiant” speech on the House floor, during which all but one Republican congress member walked out of the chamber. In July, she began to serve on the committee investigating the crimes of January 6th.
All this opposition to Trump foreshadowed her confrontational congressional campaign. In Cheney’s last congressional campaign ad, entitled “The Great Task”, she calls for “peaceful transitions of power” and an end to “thuggery”. Cheney emphasizes “the truth” concerning Trump’s defeat in the 2020 election, calling any denial of his loss “a cancer that threatens our great republic.” In fact, most of the video is about Trump. The state of Wyoming is barely mentioned at all. Towards the end, Cheney’s campaign became a crusade against Trump and his supporters. Ultimately, Cheney lost her congressional primary to Harriet Hagemen, - a GOP candidate endorsed by Trump - solidifying her status as a “Republican outcast”.
But, Cheney seems to be far from done. In her concession speech, she stated “The primary election is over, but now the real work begins.” As she left the podium, she played Tom Petty’s “I Won’t Back Down.” Cheney is preparing for a political battle.
Just a day after her congressional loss, on August 17, Cheney desire to run for president during a television interview. She told NBC’s “Today” show that she was considering running for president in 2024, but would announce her official decision in the next few months. Though her verdict is tentative, Cheney’s public and repeated denouncement of Trump wasn’t just talk. She is re-establishing her role in American politics and gearing up for a presidential run against Donald Trump.
We’re Forgetting What Liz Cheney Stands For
Because of her crusade against Trump and pro-democracy stance, Liz Cheney is receiving a lot of positive press. Specifically from liberal media sources. For her commitment to the Constitution, outlets like CNN are calling her a “champion of democracy.” The Daily Beast declared, “Nonetheless Liz Cheney persisted,” drawing comparisons to iconic messaging from Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s campaign. The same column admired her GOP opposition by saying, “Even if you’re a liberal, it’s worth acknowledging the stones that takes.” A Washington Post article even compared her battle against Trump to Obi-Wan Kenobi’s fight against Darth Vader. Cheney continues to draw support from liberal organizations like Stand Up America and attract hordes of out-of-state donations, the blue state of California being one of her main contributors.
And on its face, it all seems true. She’s a girlboss, the martyr of the Republican Party, here to save our democracy. Many Democrats can admire her moxy and would love to see a Hillary Clinton-esque figure in office. But, just because she’s not a Trump-supporter doesn’t mean she would make a good president. Centrists, Moderates, and Democrats who are praising Cheney for her denouncement of Trump seem to have forgotten her stance on many key issues.
Liz Cheney’s apple-politics don’t fall far from the Trump-tree. During his presidency, Cheney’s congressional votes aligned with Trump’s positions 93% of the time. She agreed with him on immigration policy, rolling back environmental protections, and tax breaks for the wealthy. Cheney is vehemently anti-abortion, opposing deadlines on repealing the Equal Rights Amendment and supporting the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act. She is generally pro-gun, voting against background checks and the 2021 reauthorization of the Violence Againt Women Act, and supports torturous interrogation methods like waterboarding. In a 2019 interview with NBC, while discussing Representative Ilhan Omar’s positions, Liz Cheney claimed, “But there are certain things that shouldn’t be part of our public discourse. White supremacy is one of those.” In the same interview, she rebukes the Democratic party for being “the part of anti-semitism, the party of infanticide, the party of Socialism.” So, she claims that anti-semitism is an issue, just that white supremacy is not relevant. Ironic.
And, despite her now-forceful disapproval of Trump, she’s pretty late to the game. In 2016, Cheney was an unwavering Trump-supporter. She defended Trump’s abhorrent “Access Hollywood” recordings, in which he boasted about graphically assaulting women, asserting that Hillary Clinton had done worse. Along with her father, Dick Cheney, Liz Cheney worked to raise money for Trump’s second presidential campaign, and she voted against his first impeachment. And she does not regret it. Ultimately, Cheney’s opposition of Trump and the GOP can only be traced back to January of 2021.
It’s hard to tell if Cheney has really had a change of heart or if her disapproval is a political move. Sure, it’s brave. But, Democrats shouldn’t be blinded by her recent popularity. It would be nice to have a female president, but Liz Cheney is not the girlboss that America needs.
Other Key Takeaways From Cheney’s Loss
Liz Cheney’s Republican primary loss and presidential potential says a lot about the GOP, too. Mostly, it has revealed just how much control Trump holds over the Republican political landscape. His attempt to oust in-party opponents has been largely successful, costing Liz Cheney and seven other Republican incumbents their seats in the House. All eight of these Republicans voted to impeach Trump in 2021, losing his support during campaign season. Typically, incumbents are favored for re-election in the House, but not this year. And Cheney didn’t just lose, she was crushed. Without Trump’s approval, Cheney lost to Trump’s pick for Wyoming by almost ⅔ of the Republican vote.
These results tell us that Republicans are more concerned with Trump’s agenda than their own policies. Liz Cheney is everything Republicans recently claim to love: pro-veteran, pro-Constitution, anti-abortion, etc. But, she lost most of her Republican base when she lost Trump’s endorsement. Don’t be fooled by the Democratic applause.
Clearly, Cheney would have trouble winning the Republican primary during a presidential campaign. If she can’t win Wyoming, it’s unlikely that she’d beat Trump nationally. But, it’s clear that she could pull some serious moderate votes, including moderate Democratic voters. Some Democrats fear that this means stealing votes from the Democratic presidential candidate for 2024, presumably Joe Biden. Voters who voted for Biden simply because they disliked Trump are especially vulnerable. Most likely, Cheney wouldn’t win. But, it is hard to tell without knowing the candidate lineup for the 2024 election. Crazier things have happened…
For anyone conflicted about whether to vote for Liz Cheney, I would argue:
Liz Cheney is not Obi-Wan Kanobi, and this is not the girlboss you’re looking for.