Members Only | May 12, 2021 | Reading Time: 4 minutes
In this particular case, Liz Cheney is right, and it shouldn’t be terribly difficult for liberals to say so
Don't let the fools sell you on hypocrisy, writes Issac J. Bailey.
Liz Cheney is right. The Republican Party and its embrace of Donald Trump’s Big Lie about the 2020 election is an existential threat to our democracy. Liberals would be fools to not say so plainly, despite their vehement disagreements with nearly everything Cheney said or did before she decided to stand against Trump.
Liberals should not allow those like journalist Glenn Greenwald to convince them that pointing out the obvious—that Cheney is right in this case—to shame them into silence with phony claims of political hypocrisy. In response to a tweet by MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough, Greenwald wrote: “Anyone who thinks Liz Cheney is motivated by some sort of sacred devotion to the rule of law—after everything she’s spent the last two decades supporting—is either extremely ignorant or extremely dishonest.”
There’s no time to fret about how the furniture is arranged in the living room while the house of democracy is on fire, writes Editorial Board member Issac J. Bailey.
No one has to believe Cheney is motivated by a sacred devotion to the rule of law. No one has to forget Cheney voted with Trump 92 percent of the time during his time in office. No one has to abandon vehement disagreements with her over foreign policy. No one has to stop asking why, if she’s really concerned, she hasn’t supported voter protection measures, including undoing the damage done to the Voting Rights Act by the Roberts-led Supreme Court. And no one need forget her choosing politics over her gay sister—or how she helped extend her father’s legacy by trying to “make torture great again.” Liberals don’t have to choose between opposing Cheney on such things and admitting she’s right to stand against Trump, the GOP and their great delusion.
It’s not even a terribly difficult juggling act. What she’s saying about the 2020 election is akin to declaring the sun rises in the east and sets in the west. Good-faith actors understand. Those who want to score cheap-rhetorical points against liberals don’t or refuse to acknowledge the obvious. Greenwald and those of like mind are in the latter camp. That’s not surprising, given that he and others have spent months trying to convince us that what happened on January 6 was bad but not that bad, maybe a riot but not a coup attempt. Apparently, what happened that day wasn’t bloody enough to count as a hair-on-fire moment for our democracy, especially because an initial report of an officer being beaten to death with a fire extinguisher turned out to be false.
There are still others who want us to hold fast to a false both-sides narrative. “Trump tried to overturn 2020 and failed,” Washington Monthly’s Bill Scher said. “Republican [secretaries of state] did their jobs. Nearly every Senate Republican certified. Stop assuming every Republican is an insurrectionist.” And how can we forget self-professed white evangelical Protestant “prophets” who push conspiracy theories about Donald Trump being the real president from their pulpits? Their voices carry a lot of weight with the 60 percent of Republicans who believe the 2020 election was stolen.
This is not happening in a vacuum. The Republican governor of Georgia signed a massive new voter restriction bill behind closed doors as a black state congresswoman was arrested for protesting too loudly. The Republican governor of Florida signed a new voter restriction bill behind closed doors while only inviting in “Fox & Friends,” the favorite morning political program of the Conspiracy Theorist in Chief. In Arizona, the GOP has gone bat-shit-crazy with a bat-shit-crazy “recount” of the 2020 vote. It also passed a law requiring automatic purges of the state’s vote-by-mail list.
And none of them has a thing on Texas, which has been the voter-suppression capital of the country for years now, but has recently decided to double down on that title. The Republicans there have introduced more than 350 bills to restrict the vote, more than anywhere else in the country. (Democrats in the South have tried to stem that tide.)
Republicans in the US Congress are trying to block Democratic efforts to expand and protect the right to vote, knowing that if they are successful, the US would be faced with white minority-rule in a browning nation, a recipe for disaster for democracy. Republicans are so craven on this issue their only black member in the US Senate has used his position to help his party oppose efforts to restrengthen the Voting Rights Act and other measures by Democrats while a white Republican senator has bizarrely claimed that giving people water in long voter lines could buy off their votes.
Then there’s January 6 and the attempted insurrection by Donald Trump supporters. Thousands of them literally stormed the Capitol Building in the seat of power in the world’s lone superpower to try and overturn election results they didn’t like. They were egged on by the then-sitting president. Then they were coddled by 145 elected Republicans who voted against certifying a vote they knew was legitimate. The handful of Republicans in Washington, and in purple states, have been threatened with primary challenges and the loss of funding and censure by their own political party—as well as having to face death threats—all because they chose democracy and reality.
Our democracy is in danger. That’s not an overstatement.
Given the state of things, liberals who are aligning with Cheney on this one issue not only makes sense but is the morally responsible thing to do. There’s no time to fret about how the furniture is arranged in the living room while the house is on fire.
—Issac J. Bailey
Issac J. Bailey is a South Carolina-based journalist who has won numerous writing and reporting awards, was a 2014 Harvard University Nieman Fellow and is the Batten Professor of Public Policy at Davidson College. He’s been published by The New York Times, Washington Post, CNN, Politico Magazine, Time, among many other publications. He recently released his third book, Why Didn’t We Riot: A Black Man in Trumpland.
Published in cooperation with Alternet.
Issac J. Bailey is a South Carolina-based journalist who has won numerous writing and reporting awards, was a 2014 Harvard University Nieman Fellow and is the Batten Professor of Public Policy at Davidson College. He's been published by The New York Times, Washington Post, CNN, Politico Magazine, Time, among many other publications. He recently released his third book, Why Didn't We Riot: A Black Man in Trumpland.