Cheney’s defense of democracy needs a political strategy

Cheney was basically asking Republicans to use their vote to oppose a former president who wasn’t even on the ballot.  That was going to be a hard sell, even if Republican voters had serious doubts about Trump. 

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August 18, 2022 - 2:21 PM

U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., the vice chair of the congressional committee investigating Jan. 6, speaks at the Reagan Library on Wednesday, June 29, 2022, as part of its series on the future of the GOP. (Robert Gauthier/Los Angeles Times/TNS)

Two years ago, Wyoming Republican Liz Cheney was on her way to being a future speaker of the House. She was the third-ranking House Republican with a totally safe seat. She lost that position in the House Republican conference, and now has lost her seat entirely. All because she decided to stand with the Constitution and the republic, and against the crimes of a Republican president.

An under-appreciated factor in Cheney’s rise and fall was that she was always a national politician who snagged a Wyoming seat. She was born in Wisconsin, went to high school near Washington, D.C., and went to college in Colorado before starting a Washington-based career in government and Republican politics. Indeed, her first attempt at winning office in Wyoming — a short-lived 2014 primary challenge to Republican Senator Mike Enzi — struggled with accusations of carpetbagging. In 2016, she was able to overcome that to win the vacant House seat, but her focus has always been on national, not local, policy questions. She never built the kinds of deep connections that many members of the House have within their own districts.

Even her father, who certainly was from Wyoming, didn’t really spend much time in the state after college, especially after representing the state in the House from 1979 to 1989. He, too, entered politics as a national, not a local, politician. There’s nothing wrong with that at all; the same has been true of many congressional leaders. But the weaker the district ties, the more vulnerable the representative presumably is to shake-ups. She won her elections as a strong Republican partisan; she lost Tuesday night as one of the only Republicans in Washington opposing the last Republican president.

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