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Liz Cheney’s Losing Battle

There may be more surprises as we get closer to 2024, but Liz Cheney is unlikely to be one of them

Can someone who couldn’t draw 50,000 Republican votes in Wyoming win the 80 million votes needed nationwide to become president?

Liz Cheney thinks so, even after Wyoming Republicans repudiated her in last week’s Congressional primary due to her steadfast anti-Trump stance. She was one of ten House Republicans who voted to impeach Trump, and a leading member of the committee investigating Trump’s involvement in the January 6 Capitol Hill riot — or insurrection, if you prefer.

In her concession speech, Cheney, a three-term House member from America’s least populous state, compared herself to Abraham Lincoln, who also lost a race for re-election before eventually becoming president.

Cheney’s comparison reminded me of the now-iconic 1988 vice presidential debate, in which Republican senator Dan Quayle blundered by comparing himself to President Kennedy. His opponent, Democratic senator Lloyd Bentsen, famously quipped, “Senator… I served with Jack Kennedy. Jack Kennedy was a friend of mine. Senator… you’re no Jack Kennedy.”

Liz Cheney would be the first to sign an emancipation proclamation liberating the Republican Party from Donald Trump, but she’s got a long way to go before becoming another Abraham Lincoln, whom many historians and presidential scholars consider to be one of the nation’s greatest presidents.

Eight of the ten Republicans who voted to impeach Trump will not return to Congress next year, Cheney among them. Four of that group decided not to seek re-election rather than face certain defeat. Cheney would have been better advised to follow their lead rather than suffer a crushing loss.

Cheney is one of a relatively modest number of Republicans who would prefer someone other than Trump as their standard-bearer in 2024. What this group forgets is that even Republicans looking beyond Mar-a-Lago for their savior want someone just as disruptive. That’s why Ron DeSantis will be a very competitive candidate if he decides to run in 2024.

DeSantis, a governor in a low-tax state, kept Florida open during the Covid pandemic. He travels the country campaigning for other Republicans and challenging woke ideology by supporting law enforcers, not lawbreakers; and ensuring schools concentrate on an academic curriculum without corrupting children’s minds with immorality and revisionist history.

Trump never practiced everything he preached, but he hit a responsive chord with his Make America Great Again slogan among citizens watching in horror as an increasingly aggressive China contests America’s role as the world’s leading superpower. Trump also tapped into the growing sentiment that the character of the nation is hanging in the balance, and that the ongoing power struggle between conservative and progressive elements will end badly.

Republicans want someone with an overpowering personality to stem the progressive tide, to do battle with a media that wields a poison pen, and to stop cowering before or catering to foreign adversaries.

Trump is still the favorite. As noted, DeSantis is a serious competitor. There may be more surprises as we get closer to 2024, but Liz Cheney is unlikely to be one of them.

One can argue that she went down to defeat fighting for her principled positions. But impeaching Trump, indicting him for what happened on January 6, and debunking his claims of voter fraud are not high on Republicans’ list of priorities.

Liz Cheney’s losing battle proves that party loyalty still counts. If you’re going to pick a fight, you have to pick a popular one. The GOP is far from ready to dump Trump.


(Originally featured in Mishpacha, Issue 925)

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