Monday, September 25

Cheney is the Republicans’ best hope for ending the cult of Trump

Rep. Liz Cheney’s landslide loss Tuesday to lawyer Harriet Hageman in the Republican primary for Wyoming’s lone US House seat is yet another sign that the GOP has mutated into a dangerous cult of personality more loyal to Donald Trump than to America’s laws, our Constitution and our nation itself.

I never thought I would live to see the day when the party of Abraham Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt, Dwight Eisenhower, Ronald Reagan, the two George Bushes and other patriotic Republicans would bow down to a defeated authoritarian leader who stubbornly refuses to accept his election loss . A defeated leader who considers himself above the law and has only contemplated for the institutions and norms that made America great in the first place.

And now here we are with Cheney’s promising congressional career cut short and Hageman virtually guaranteed election in November in a heavily Republican state where 70 percent of presidential ballots cast two years ago went to Trump.

Hageman called Trump “racist and xenophobic” when she opposed his quest for the Republican presidential nomination in 2016 but embraced him as “the greatest president of my lifetime” this year and endorsed his baseless claim that he defeated Joe Biden in the 2020 presidential election. She is clearly willing to say and do almost anything to get a seat in Congress.

Not Cheney. A rising Republican star and a member of the House GOP leadership team, she could have put partisanship over patriotism and cruised to an easy primary victory by pledging loyalty to Trump above all else.

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Instead, Cheney courageously stood up to Trump like a modern-day Joan of Arc, knowing the odds against her were overwhelming. She was booted out of the House Republican leadership and now will be forced out of the House at the end of the year

“I’m a conservative Republican,” Cheney said. “I deeply believe in the principles and the ideals on which my party was founded. I love its history. And I love what our party has stood for. But I love my country more.” Indeed she does.

As a lifelong Democrat who has worked hard to elect members of my party, I disagree with Cheney and her father — former Vice President Dick Cheney — on just about every issue. The conservative congresswoman voted in support of Trump over 90 percent of the time in her six years in the House, while I rarely found myself in agreement with him.

Cheney incurred Trump’s lifelong wrath when she became one of 10 House Republicans voting to impeach him for his role in the Jan. 6, 2021, violent insurrection that sought to keep him in power, even though Biden won the presidential election. She is now one of eight of those Republicans who won’t be in the House next year, either because of retirement or a primary loss.

The congresswoman then angered Trump even further when she became vice chair of the House committee investigating the insurrection and Trump’s role in what amounted to an attempted coup, taking on the role of one of his harshest critics and saying he should never even get near the Oval Office again.

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While Cheney lost her primary race, she is no loser. Her bravery and her dedication to democracy, free elections and our Constitution in standing up to Trump make her a historic figure. At 56, she is 20 years younger than Trump and will likely be an important figure trying to change the GOP from a cult back into a responsible political party long after he has left the scene.

With incredible success, Trump has mesmerized millions of Americans into believing he was robbed of an election victory and convinced them that Black Americans, Latinos, Muslims, immigrants and other minorities pose a serious threat to our country — when in fact he poses a far graver threat to our democracy and our national security.

And the Trump threats just keep coming and growing.

Currently, FBI agents around the country are receiving death threats from Trump supporters for executing a court-authorized search warrant at his Mar-a-Lago estate last week to recover classified government documents that Trump failed to turn over to the National Archives when he left office.

Earlier, election workers faced death threats because Trump falsely accused them of cheating to help Biden be elected.

Donald Trump is poisoning not just American politics but our national unity with his fanatical devotion to his election lies, determination to become president again and insistence that any attempt to hold him responsible for his actions is corrupt political persecution.

This is not normal. Are we living in North Korea, China, Russia, Cuba, Iran or another dictatorship where elections are meaningless and rigged by the powerful? Trump seems to want us to emulate those systems, as he works feverishly to help elect supporters of his lies to administer the 2024 elections around the country.

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In his quest for power, Trump doesn’t give a damn about democracy or anything else.

Joan of Arc was burned at the stake in 1431 and later declared a saint. While Liz Cheney has suffered a political defeat she lives on to fight another day, both in the Jan. 6 investigative committee and in future efforts to keep Trump from becoming president again.

I don’t know if the Republican Party will ever nominate Cheney as its presidential candidate. But the party needs someone of her caliber to cure it of its addiction to Trump and return it to the principles and patriotism of its past.

The Trumpists need to go down to overwhelming defeat in the November elections to position Cheney and other honest and patriotic Republicans like her to restore the party’s soul.

Donna Brazile is a political strategist, a contributor to ABC News and former chair of the Democratic National Committee. She is the author of “Hacks: Inside the Break-ins and Breakdowns That Put Donald Trump in the White House.”

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