(CNN)When the House Republican Party moves against Liz Cheney this week, it will prove that it prefers to unite behind a lie rather than stay divided over truth.
The expected ouster of the third-ranking Republican leader in the House over her repeated rejection of Donald Trump’s election fraud falsehoods may not be the most acute issue facing the American people. Concerns over unemployment and possible inflation, attempts to persuade holdouts to take Covid-19 vaccines, President Joe Biden’s sweeping liberal agenda and a new cyberattack shutting down a pipeline are more urgent.
But the vote in the House Republican conference Wednesday may be the most fateful moment in a while, since it will further cement the disdain for democracy in one of the nation’s two great political parties. It will also show that for the House GOP, nothing — not even the protection of voters’ rights to express their will in free elections — is more important than moving in lockstep with Trump.
Sen. Lindsey Graham explained the equation when he was asked Monday whether there was a place in the party for anyone who opposed Trump.
“Sure, you’re just not going to be a leader of the party if you’re anti-Trump,” the South Carolina Republican said.
The vote will also once again expose the choice of Washington Republican leaders to put the fate of their party, and even their country, ultimately in the hands of a former President who used both primarily as a vessel to protect his own vanity.
It is clear that the leadership in the House, cowed by Trump’s popularity with the party base, is unwilling to contradict the false beliefs of voters convinced by the former President’s malicious assault on the election and by conservative media propaganda.
In a letter to Republican House members on Monday, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, a California Republican who had condemned Trump’s actions in the hours after the Capitol riot before he genuflected before the former President in a visit to Mar-a-Lago, said it was time to stop “relitigating the past.”
“If we are to succeed in stopping the radical Democrat agenda from destroying our country, these internal conflicts need to be resolved so as to not detract from the efforts of our collective team,” McCarthy wrote, alerting his troops to a vote on Cheney’s fate on Wednesday. “It’s clear that we need to make a change.”
‘Free thought and debate’
McCarthy’s letter was full of inconsistencies, however. The chief culprit in “relitigating” Trump’s election humiliation is the former President himself, who fans lies hour after hour and day after day.
McCarthy also billed his party as, unlike the “left,” a haven for “free thought and debate.” Yet Cheney is set to be toppled precisely because she was indulging such privileges by pointing out Trump’s falsehoods. And if tackling the Biden agenda was the question, then Cheney — one of the most conservative members of the conference, who has made one of the most coherent arguments against the White House’s multitrillion-dollar ambitions — would be an ideal weapon.
But the Wyoming lawmaker and daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney navigated herself into an unsustainable position in a leadership group that puts loyalty to Trump ahead of truth.
Her likely replacement — Rep. Elise Stefanik, a more liberal Rep
Trump drags House GOP deeper into his theater of lies
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