Members Only | June 17, 2022 | Reading Time: 4 minutes

Liberal swooning over Liz Cheney? Please

For her, insurrection is fine, just not armed insurrection.


Share this article

Liz Cheney is one of the few Republicans to condemn the attempted coup on January 6 and to join Democrats in the investigation. Standing against an armed insurrection is a bizarrely low bar, but Cheney deserves a little credit for being one of two to meet it. 

That’s where the credit should stop, though. 

It seems some Democrats, like Robert Reich, are so desperate for a Republican savior they’re not only falling over themselves to praise Cheney but arguing she might be the president we need in 2024. 

Sure she might support white Christian fascism, but those are just pesky details in the face of some people’s desires to rehabilitate the Republican Party and have a veneer of “unity.”

I appreciate her standing against the attempted coup on January 6. The mood of the country is such that opposing a violent takeover of the Capitol isn’t a given. Cheney deserves support from Democrats for her work. She’s earned it. But don’t whitewash her actual beliefs.

Cheney is not pro-democracy or anti-fascism. If she were, she would support voting rights. She is happy for a fascist authoritarian regime takeover as long as it’s through stolen elections and voter suppression. 

Cheney only opposes armed insurrection. 

Don’t get me wrong. 

I appreciate her standing against the attempted coup on January 6. The mood of the country is such that opposing a violent takeover of the Capitol isn’t a given. Cheney deserves support from Democrats for her work. She’s earned it. But don’t whitewash her actual beliefs.

Cheney might oppose the insurrection, but her actions over the past decade are at least partially to blame for the insurrection. As Adam Serwer writes, Cheney stoked the bigoted misinformation that laid the groundwork for Trump’s claims about a stolen election. 

Cheney regularly appeared on Fox and supported unfounded claims that Barack Obama supported jihadists. She demonized the Democrats as supporting infanticide, antisemitism and socialism. When she went after attorneys in the Justice Department for defending terror suspects, her actions were so extreme even Ken Starr criticized her.

Cheney had no problem with Trump until the attempted coup. 

She voted for Trump’s agenda 92.9 percent of the time. Her votes supported Trump more than Matt Gaetz or her replacement as the chair of the House Republican conference, Elise Stafanik. 

Even after J6, she condemned the American Rescue Plan as sending payments to “illegal immigrants” and terrorists. She implied it allowed federal funds to pay for abortions. (The Hyde Amendment is still law.)

Cheney is well-versed in lying about abortion. 

She perpetuates the Republican misinformation that Democrats support abortion “beyond” the ninth month of pregnancy, specifically demonizing Vice President Kamala Harris. Cheney is an intelligent woman. She knows the Democrats do not advocate for infanticide. 

Cheney called two bills that would require universal background checks on firearm sales and give more time for them an “assault on the Second Amendment.” Cheney also continues to push extreme Islamophobic narratives and lies that Biden supports “open borders.”

Cheney not only voted for Trump in 2016 but she also supported him in 2020. While she says she now regrets it, Cheney still emphasizes that she would never have supported Biden and the actions of Republicans aren’t making her question her loyalty to the party. Her explanation also makes it clear that she supports Trump on policy.

Cheney seems most concerned with the threat to the peaceful transfer of power. A guaranteed peaceful transfer of power is obviously an important pillar of democracy but it is far from a sufficient one. 

There are ways to steal an election without threatening the peaceful transfer of power. If the 2020 election had been successfully stolen through voter suppression laws or by hacking voting machines, it seems unlikely Cheney would be speaking out against such an action because there would be no threat to the peaceful transfer of power. 

In fact Cheney accused FBI agents investigating Trump as part of the Mueller Russia investigation of treason. When the Mueller report came out, Cheney declared no collusion between Trump and Russia. 

Cheney supports voter suppression laws that can quietly steal an election. She voted against the John Lewis Freedom to Vote Act supposedly because it gave the federal government too much power, but in the same breath said she supported requiring an ID to vote. 

While voter suppression laws and trying to steal elections are linked, the link was made more explicit by the flurry of new voting restrictions introduced shortly after Biden won the election. 

When confronted with the rush for new obstacles to vote, Cheney refused to see the context and instead argued each law should be looked at individually, but you can’t claim you support democracy while also supporting government obstacles to voting. 

(It’s worth noting Trump’s 2016 win was in part due to increased voting restrictions enacted after the Supreme Court struck down a key section of the Voting Rights Act in 2013. The John Lewis Freedom to Vote Act that Cheney voted against was meant to remedy this.)

Cheney supports racist, sexist, anti-democratic, anti-science policies. So why are prominent (white) liberals falling over themselves to call her a hero and offer her up as a unifying presidential candidate? 

Well, if they’re anything like Reich, they’re ignoring history and policy, and pretending America is more divided than it’s ever been so we need unity more than ever. (I guess Reich forgot about the Civil War). 

Cheney opposes abortion, immigration reform, climate accords, police reform and even the mildest gun reform. With her opposition to voting rights, Cheney supports a quieter path to authoritarian fascism. 

She just can’t stomach armed insurrection

Stop looking for reasonable Republicans. Instead, support Democrats who support freedom, citizenship, civil rights and democracy.

Mia Brett, PhD, is the Editorial Board's legal historian. She lives with her gorgeous dog, Tchotchke. You can find her @queenmab87.

Leave a Comment

Want to comment on this post?
Click here to upgrade to a premium membership.