House Representative Liz Cheney vowed last year to leave the Republican Party if Trump is nominated in 2024.
“I’m going to do everything I can to make sure he is not the nominee,” Cheney said late last year.
“And if he is the nominee, I won’t be a Republican.” Cheney, who has long been critical of Trump, has become increasingly critical of her party itself. “Donald Trump is the only president in American history who refused to guarantee a peaceful transition of power,” Cheney said, adding that the GOP “has refused in the months since then to stand up to him,” which “does tell you how sick the party is.”
Liz Cheney: She Is No Democrat
But let’s keep in mind: Liz Cheney is a conservative. So, don’t expect her to join the Democrats anytime soon.
“By any fair measure, Rep. Liz Cheney is a conservative Republican,” Steve Bene wrote for MSNBC last year. “The Wyoming congresswoman voted with the Trump White House roughly 94 percent of the time, and up until last year, she was a member of the House GOP leadership in good standing.”
And remember: Liz Cheney campaigned as a Republican just last year – a race that she lost.
Had Cheney won that race, she would very happily still be a Republican looking forward to another term in the House, rather than a lame-duck.
Ultimately, however, it doesn’t really matter who Cheney campaigns for – that’s purely political stuff. What matters is how she legislates, how she governs, and what she does rather than what she says. And with respect to what she does, Cheney is a thoroughbred conservative. Political scientist Lawrence R. Jacobs once described Cheney as “an arch conservative. She’s a hard-edged, small government, lower taxes figure and a leading voice on national defense.”
Journalist Jake Bernstein agrees: “Cheney is a true conservative in every sense of the word and she’s only moderate in relation to the radicalism that has seized the Republican party.”
Cheney’s policies are consistently conservative. In foreign policy, Cheney opposed Biden’s Afghanistan withdrawal; she has continued to espouse that al-Qaeda was connected with Saddam Hussein’s Iraq – a disproven notion that served as Dick Cheney’s pretext for invading Iraq; she voted to leave the 2002 Authorization of Military Force in place; she believes U.S. interrogators should torture subjects; she is against the U.S. signing a no-first-use nuclear agreement; she was against the JCPOA.
Basically, Liz Cheney is a carbon copy of her father – one of the most pernicious actors in U.S. foreign policy. Ever.
Cheney has acted with similar conservatism on the domestic side, too. She even refused to denounce the “birther” conspiracy theory, which alleged Barack Obama was not born in America and was hence not eligible to be president – and which also marked Donald Trump’s first foray into the political arena. And while Cheney later recanted, Cheney opposed same-sex marriage during her 2013 Senate campaign – despite the fact that her sister Mary is a lesbian.
Circling back to the Donald, is she denouncing Trump, vowing to vote Republican because of her virtuous, unshakable principles? That’s doubtful. She, likely in counsel with her father, long ago ran the numbers and calculated that there would be political benefits to opposing Trump. Whether those calculations were correct remains to be seen – she did lose a congressional race in a district she had previously dominated – but this is a long-game move.
Cheney has become a martyred figure that Democrats are, inexplicably, willing to embrace thanks to their myopic focus on anti-Trump initiatives.
Without question, Cheney is a more prominent political figure now than she was before opposing Trump. Good money says her calculations were sound; there was political benefit to opposing Trump. So don’t be too eager to embrace Cheney as a champion of the left.
Harrison Kass is the Senior Editor at 19FortyFive. An attorney, pilot, guitarist, and minor pro hockey player, he joined the US Air Force as a Pilot Trainee but was medically discharged. Harrison holds a BA from Lake Forest College, a JD from the University of Oregon, and an MA from New York University. He lives in Oregon and listens to Dokken. Follow him on Twitter @harrison_kass.