If House GOP leaders move forward with their plan to purge Liz Cheney from leadership, they won’t solve any problems but will instead create even bigger ones for themselves, former President Trump, and the entire GOP.
The drawn-out and ham-fisted public campaign to humiliate Cheney for the crime of refuting Trump’s lies has gratuitously insulted not just Cheney, but, by extension, millions of Americans who are permanently unsettled by the events of January 6. The message to conscientious objectors uncomfortably hanging around the GOP is this: You’re not welcome, get out. Even Peggy Noonan is calling the move “cowardly.” She writes, “It will make the party look stupid and weak, as if it can’t tolerate dissent.” Is President Reagan’s premier speechwriter no longer welcome in today’s GOP?
For all of Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy’s lip service to the GOP being a “big tent,” the move will take a shrinking tent and make it even smaller. Voters registration for Republicans is down across the country after January 6 including in key states like Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Arizona and Colorado. Meanwhile, Trump loyalists at the NRCC are allegedly hiding abysmal poll numbers for the former president from House members. To survive and compete, the GOP desperately needs leaders who can not only handle the truth (and electoral math) but speak it.
Party loyalty arguments never work in the real world, where voters value loyalty to the American team over the Republican team. For years, GOP leaders and the establishment attempted to intimidate my old boss Tom Coburn into submission with party loyalty guilt trips. When he attacked individual pork projects backed by Republicans, the party would say, “How dare you?” Coburn would retort, “No, how dare you?” The fake outsiders at Mar-a-Lago who are now today’s GOP establishment are equally tone deaf.