Liz Cheney and the Wrong Way to Fight Trump’s Influence
The annoying thing about the past is that whatever horrible thing happened in the past happened and there is nothing you can do about. Nothing that is, except to move on and try to be better so it does not happen again. Unfortatently, House GOP Conference Chair Liz Cheney, does not appear to comprehend this.
As Cheney increasingly faces calls to be stripped of her leadership position, the problem is not that she is speaking truth to a party that needs to hear it or that she is attempting to get the party out of the iron-tight grip Donald Trump has it in, but how she is going about it.
Trump’s presidency, including all of the post-election lies and riots, happened. That is something that will be a part of Trump’s legacy and depending on how Republicans conduct themselves, it will be a part of theirs as well. For Cheney and others the best way to move the party away from Trump is to speak truth about him, even if nobody wants to hear it.
The problem is that anti-Trumpism is a dead end. It is a path that leads to nowhere except CNN or MSNBC. So, what to do about the the man whose lies seem to have the GOP in an untenable position?
The answer is the McConnell path. After January 6, McConnell was reportedly open to convicting Trump, but eventually backed off. But, McConnell did not become a Trumper. Instead, he just treats Trump for what he is, which is a septuagenarian who has been relegated to issuing long diatribes disguised as press releases that nobody outside of political junkies is even aware of. In other words, he just ignores Trump and focuses on 2022.
That is how the GOP moves beyond Trump, by focusing on 2022 and not 2020. Focus on today’s problems, not yesterday’s. It must also do what political commentators are not very good: playing the long game.
Trump’s influence in the GOP will remain high until someone replaces him and since the the next primary campaign does not begin until 2023, that will be a couple of years. But in 2024, either someone else gets the nomination and replaces Trump as the head of the party, especially should this person win in November, or Trump runs again and likely loses the general by an even larger margin. If he should defy the odds and somehow win in 2024, he will be an instant lame duck. No scenario can change the fact that he would be 82 in 2028 and at some point even Trump will retire from public life.
The cyclical nature of American politics makes it so that despite all of the problems that Trump has brought to the party, the GOP is not at risk of extinction. When Republicans pick their nominees in various primaries, candidates that rely on anti-Trump appeals do not go anywhere because that constituency is microscopically small. But, that does not mean that Republican voters are looking for the a scandal-free version of Matt Gaetz or that Marjorie Taylor Greene is as popular as some claim she is either.
Non-Trump can win, anti-Trump cannot. Standing on principle, even if you standing alone is an admirable trait, but politics is also about the art of the possible and if you are standing alone, but if nobody sees you standing, are you really standing? The Republican Party needs people like Liz Cheney, but it needs them to be smarter. Donald Trump is not president anymore, it is time that everyone, not just his most loyal supporters, realize that. You do not have to give him the constant attention he so desires.
After the election, Trump and many Republicans should have just taken the L like adults and moved on. After Cheney returned her leadership position despite voting for impeachment, she should have just taken the W and moved on.