Republicans Have a Choice to Make Post-Trump, They’d Best Choose Wisely

AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite

Sometimes a take so bad comes across the wire that it’s worth using as a jumping off point for a bigger thought. That happened today in the form of an editorial put out by the Washington Examiner. In it, Tiana Lowe explains that Kevin McCarthy should be booted as House minority leader, not to be replaced with a more effective figure that Republican voters can get behind, but to be pave the way for Liz Cheney.

Yes, there are apparently people still out there that believe Liz Cheney represents the future of the party.

Make no mistake: Anyone who promulgated President Trump’s lie that the election was stolen from him is unfit to serve as the House minority leader. The experiment of Trumpism proved a political failure, with the Republican Party losing its control of the White House and both chambers of Congress while achieving few legislative gains. If the GOP wants to score a comeback, its divorce from Trumpism must mean much more than a mere divorce from Trump. McCarthy must go, at a minimum, from House leadership.

Luckily for Republicans, they have an obvious candidate to replace him in Liz Cheney.

As House Republican Conference chairwoman, the Wyoming congresswoman is already the third-highest ranking member of House Republican leadership. Despite her foreign policy hawkishness resulting in some intraparty quibbles, Cheney navigated the Trump era without either debasing herself with the stench of unquestioning Trumpism or alienating herself politically a la Mitt Romney. Despite her short tenure in Congress, Cheney has already proved that her political instincts are those the party needs.

I’m struggling to think of a worse person Republicans could get behind if they hope to keep any semblence of a coalition together going into 2022. Liz Cheney is the very epitome of a Beltway Republican. Her foreign policy views alone are enough to send most GOP voters screaming with their hands up when confronted with the idea of Cheney rising further through the ranks. Her last name has certainly delivered some perks so far, but taking the mantle of leader of the Republicans in the House will be a bridge too far for most.

Besides, the idea that Republican voters care about whether Cheney “debased” herself during the Trump era by showing him support is misguided at best. My sense is that most Republicans are open to the idea of Trump no longer being the center of the party. What they aren’t open to is a return to the ineffective, disastrous political leadership of the Bush era. And while Cheney represents an evolution of that, she’s still firmly within that mold. This is a person who is still insisting we propagate a 20-year-old war in Afghanistan, not because she can actually articulate a good reason to still be there, but because she’s so doggedly married to a foreign policy philosophy that has spread ruin across the globe.

Most of the Republican voter base moved on from such over a decade ago. They lost their taste for badly justified wars that never seem to accomplish anything of real value while costing their country large amounts of blood and treasure. That’s not to say the GOP is firmly isolationist now, but they are certainly much more pragmatic in their views on the use of force overseas. The days of feigning patriotism as an excuse for every conflict are long over. To be fair, Lowe recognizes that Cheney’s foreign policy views are kryptonite to most Republicans, but that’s not some small thing you can just brush aside. It’s the very genesis of why Cheney is not fit to lead.

But it’s not just foreign policy that’s at issue with Cheney. It’s also that she represents the same, old views domestically, always willing to be fiscally irresponsible as long as it enriches some corporation that donates enough. Tax cuts, though they can be a good tool, form the solution to every problem. Meanwhile, normal Americans suffer, just as they have during the COVID crisis, while Washington shovels money to big business.

Lastly, Cheney simply doesn’t have the demeanor to co-lead a post-Trump party. You can offer voters an alternative to Trump, but that alternative better be someone who will get in the ring and throw some punches in a way that rallies GOP voters. That’s not who Cheney is. She’s a walking Republican cliche, and that’s simply not where the party is going.

I’ll summarize my thoughts this way. The Republican party has a choice to make after Trump leaves office. They can choose to learn from the last four years, improve on the good, and offer up a new generation of top leadership that understands what the party’s voters actually want. Conversely, they can offer up Liz Cheney and others like her. If they do the latter, they can kiss any chance of a resurgence in 2022 and beyond goodbye.

(Please follow me on Twitter to fight the purge and keep our reach…@bonchieredstate)