Wyoming GOP: We no longer recognize Liz Cheney as a Republican

Jim Lo Scalzo/Pool via AP

I mean, I agree with them. She views Trump as a civic menace and the insurrection as an unforgivable breach of democratic norms and she refuses to keep quiet about it just because doing so would advance her career.

She’s unrecognizable as a Republican.

This episode reminds me of something Trump said after he won the Indiana primary and finished off Ted Cruz in 2016, effectively securing the nomination. George Stephanopoulos asked him whether he was conservative enough to be the GOP nominee. I’m a conservative, Trump insisted, but then added this prescient caveat: “Don’t forget, this is called the Republican Party. It’s not called the Conservative Party.”

Conservatism is no longer the touchstone of being a Republican. He’s been clear about that since the day he took charge of the party.

Conservatism is an ideology that favors less government spending and free markets. For example:

No one disputes that Cheney is a conservative, much more so per her voting record than the person who replaced her in leadership, Elise Stefanik. But to be a good Republican in 2021, you need to be loyal to Trump, not to conservatism. It may be called the Republican Party but in practice it’s the Trump Party. Conservatism is neither here nor there.

So Cheney is out, at least in the eyes of her state leadership:

The resolution, which does not strip Cheney of any tangible power, passed the Wyoming GOP Central Committee by a vote of 31-29 during a Saturday meeting Buffalo…

“To further her own personal political agenda, Representative Liz Cheney has not only caused massive disruption, distraction and division within the House Republican Conference, but has also willingly, happily, and energetically joined forced with and proudly pledged allegiance to democrat Speaker of the House Pelosi, as a means of serving her own personal interests while ignoring the interests, needs and expectations of Wyoming Republicans,” the resolution passed stated…

The end of the resolution made an appeal to congressional Republicans by asking that the “House Republican Conference Leadership immediately remove Representative Liz Cheney from all committee assignments and the House Republican conference itself, to assist and expedite her seamless exodus from the Republican Party.”

“It’s laughable to suggest Liz is anything but a committed conservative Republican,” said a Cheney spokesman afterward. “She is bound by her oath to the Constitution. Sadly, a portion of the Wyoming GOP leadership has abandoned that fundamental principle, and instead allowed themselves to be held hostage to the lies of a dangerous and irrational man.” Not just the Wyoming GOP:

Here’s what it means to be a member of the Trump Party in 2021. See no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil:

Here’s another example, a clear signal from a guy known for being a bastion of conservatism that partnering with Democrats on any initiative that undermines the party, even if it’s in the nation’s civic interest, means you forfeit your GOP card:

One more example, this time from a guy who’s restyled himself as a Trump critic. Chris Christie admitted in a new interview that he doesn’t regret voting for Trump twice despite his “stop the steal” insanity, which cuts to the heart of the logic that continues to bind even most Trump-skeptical Republicans to the former president. When push comes to shove, they’ll look the other way at how power is gained and retained so long as they get the policies they like. If Trump tries to overturn the election again in 2024 and succeeds by having the House declare him president, I’d guess that 80 percent or more of Republican voters will support that based on the reasoning Christie uses here. If you can keep the White House away from Democrats, even if they’ve won it fairly, you do it and worry about the civic niceties later.

Christie has essentially become an anti-anti-Trumper. There are lots of Trump fans in the GOP, a handful of Never Trumpers, and then a contingent that has little use for Trump but is willing to excuse him virtually anything as party leader in the name of resisting an even more pernicious force, the Democrats. I’d bet Christie has a dim view of Liz Cheney even though he broadly shares her opinions that the insurrection was a disgrace and that Trump’s months-long “rigged election” campaign inspired it. At the end of the day, Cheney is willing to go against the party in the name of holding Trump accountable, even if it means Democrats benefit politically. Christie isn’t. It’s a cinch that if he primaries Trump and gets crushed, which he will, he’ll end up endorsing him in the end.

In fact, I think one’s views of Cheney are a solid test of where one stands on the spectrum of right-wing Trump opinion. If you love Trump, obviously you hate her. But if you dislike him and dislike her, why? Now that she’s out of leadership and no longer speaks for the GOP House caucus in any way, what has she said or done that you disagree with — except criticize the Trump Party and the personality cult that drives it?

Going back to Trump’s remark in 2016, we can reformulate the right’s views of the GOP in the following way. For most, the Republican Party is the Trump Party. For Liz Cheney and a few rump conservatives, it’s the Conservative Party. And for Christie and the anti-anti-Trumpers, it’s the Never Democrats Party. That last faction is still welcome within the Trump Party because it’s willing to run interference for Trump, however grudgingly, but Cheney’s faction isn’t. Hence the Wyoming state party’s vote yesterday.