May 12, 2021 | Reading Time: 4 minutes

The patriots among us are getting woke

Liz Cheney is right where she needs to be.

The patriots among us are getting woke

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It’s done. The Republicans in the United States House of Representatives voted this morning to oust Wyoming Congresswoman Liz Cheney as chairwoman of the House GOP conference. I’ve been writing obliquely about this pending vote, as I’ve been trying to make other points. But let me be plain. Ousting one of their own for the sake of a losing president means the Republican Party is now officially anti-democracy.

Think about it. A pro-democracy party is one that would leave behind the losing president. It would look at his failure, which almost never happens, and reassess what the party must do to win more votes than the other party did. It would expand greatly its policy repertoire to attract a winning national coalition. It would reorganize and restructure to compete harder for a broader spectrum of voters. In brief, it would do something similar to what the Democratic Party did after Hillary Clinton’s 2016 loss.

The more the Republican Party acts like an insurgency, the more normal people are going to respond politically. That’s bad for the Republicans, but that’s good for the republic.

Instead, the Republicans are behaving in two anti-democratic ways. One, they are rigging elections with new laws disenfranchising wholes classes of people. Two, they are preparing to ignore election results if rigging fails. Going all-in for the losing president means the party doesn’t care anymore about legitimately winning or losing. It does not care anymore about the very principle of legitimacy. It has effectively given up on democracy, because it keeps getting in the way of keeping its grip on power.

But it’s worse than all this. Hillary Clinton dutifully accepted the results of the election as an expression of the people’s sovereignty. (She did this, though by the standards of democracies around the world, she won by dint of winning more votes.1) She did not lie. She did not cast doubt. She did not scheme with state-level Democrats to “find” a few thousand extra votes. She did not plan, organize and then incite the sacking and looting of the United States Capitol. She did not seek to violate the almost sacred tradition of the peaceful transfer of power. Treason was not the price of her vanity.

More importantly, the Democratic Party did not follow her. The Republicans, however, have been following Donald Trump wherever he leads, even when he palled around with a dictator (Vladimir Putin); apologized for a murderer (Mohammed bin Salman); neglected a once-every-100-years plague that will kill more than a million Americans in the end; tried defrauding the American people by way of extorting a foreign leader; and planned, organized and incited an insurrection against the United States. There was no crime, injustice or outrage they were not willing to sidestep, overlook or defend. The Democrats are more republican than the Republicans in the Republican Party.2 The GOP hasn’t just given up on democracy. It’s warring against democracy.

Here’s the tip jar!

Despite all this, we can have faith. Most people most of the time have something better to do than pay attention to politics. But they do hear what leaders like Liz Cheney are saying, and the message is, I think, pretty simple. There is something profoundly rotten at the core of the Republican Party. There is something about the Republican Party that’s against America itself. That must be the case given the party is booting from its leadership the daughter of towering Republican figure and a former vice president. She’s a member of the United States Congress whom the Democrats normally hate. That’s the impression left on normal people. Everything else is noise.

I have talked a lot about the importance of getting swing voters, which is to say, respectable white people,3 to side with patriotism over despotism. If there’s anyone who looks, acts, talks and thinks like that great globular middle of American politics, it’s Liz Cheney. During a floor speech last night, she said the GOP is going to war:

“I am a conservative Republican and the most conservative of conservative principles is reverence for the rule of law. The Electoral College has voted. More than 60 state and federal courts, including multiple judges he appointed, have rejected the former president’s claims. The Department of Justice in his administration investigated the former president’s claims of widespread fraud and found no evidence to support them. The election is over. That is the rule of law. That is our constitutional process. Those who refuse to accept the rulings of our courts are at war with the Constitution. … I will not participate in that. I will not sit back and watch in silence while others lead our party down a path that abandons the rule of law and joins the former president’s crusade to undermine our democracy.4

Those who say Cheney should switch parties are mistaken. The moment she became a Democrat would be the moment she lost all influence over independent voters, many of whom are just like her, once loyal partisans alienated by the GOP’s disloyalty to the United States. Indeed, Cheney is where she should be, for her own political reasons (she probably has presidential ambitions) and for reasons benefiting the rest of us.

As long as she’s a Republican bucking the party line, she’ll command the attention of the Washington press corps.5 That attention will in turn deepen the impression among normal people that something is seriously wrong with the Republican Party, so serious as to be dangerous. The more the GOP acts like an insurgency, the more normal people are going to respond politically. The patriots among us are getting woke.

John Stoehr


We’re the only one with an Electoral College.


By which, I mean pledged to the republic.


Here, here, here and here, among others.


My emphasis.

Twitter avatar for @ThePlumLineGSGreg Sargent @ThePlumLineGS
NBC News just announced a big interview with Liz Cheney, which will be all about the GOP’s plunge into authoritarianism and all about the party’s continuing lockstep devotion to Trump: I may not be all that savvy, but I say that’s what we want to see:

Greg Sargent @ThePlumLineGS

The new third party challenge to the GOP’s plunge into authoritarianism is actually a good thing. Yes, it’s electorally doomed. But we want center-right voices stating unambiguously that the GOP poses a severe threat to democratic stability. Here’s why:

John Stoehr is the editor of the Editorial Board. He writes the daily edition. Find him @johnastoehr.


  1. Jim Prevatt on July 30, 2021 at 11:55 pm

    “[T]he Republican Party is now officially anti-democracy.”

  2. Dave Mikulec on July 30, 2021 at 11:55 pm

    Of all the people. Liz freakin’ Cheney. Daughter of Darth Cheney.

    Liz Cheney. Whose only “crime” was standing up for her Conservative values, is thrown under the bus by her own party. I never thought I’d see the day. They truly have become a cult.


    • Dave Mikulec on July 30, 2021 at 11:55 pm

      I should say they have become a fascist cult. Because we all know damned well where they’re headed.

  3. Scott on July 30, 2021 at 11:55 pm

    The patriots among us are still pretty sus

  4. LIBA on July 30, 2021 at 11:55 pm

    All this slobbering over Liz Cheney in the MSM and left-leaning circles is highly disturbing IMO. She’s literally just doing the bare minimum– acknowledging that her side scored less points than the other side, and therefore lost the game this time around. The reality of Liz Cheney is that she is one of the nastiest conservative ideologues out there, both in her voting record and especially her rhetoric over the years. She and her family have had a MAJOR hand in building the monstrosity that is the present-day GQP and conservative movement. Excessive praise of Liz Cheney for essentially admitting that 1+1 = 2 whitewashes her far-right record and risks leaving the general public with the impression that “she’s not that bad and maybe she’s even actually pretty good. Hey, maybe she’s even Presidential material!” Can you imagine a Liz Cheney presidency? It would be the Bush Jr. admin on steroids. The discussion around Cheney should be that she’s doing the bare minimum and why can’t the rest of her party at least do that. Anything more than that normalizes a truly awful ideologue who should not advance in government any higher than she has already.

  5. Sean Tadsen on July 30, 2021 at 11:55 pm

    Liz Cheney’s voting record in Congress has been *overwhelmingly* in line with Trump’s policies (I believe it was a little over 90% of her votes aligned with whatever Trump’s position was). And I have no doubt that her votes will continue to align with the Republican party’s stance on any issue.
    This is literally the *only* point where she might differ from the rest of the Republican party. Acknowledging the reality of the 2020 election. And for that, she gets punished.
    *That* is the real story here. The only reason Liz Cheney is getting this level of praise is because of how starkly her actions contrast with those of her party.

  6. Matt L on July 30, 2021 at 11:55 pm

    This is wishcasting. The vast majority of conservative voters are for authoritarian minority rule and have been for centuries. The percentages are something like the percentages in the house. Is it two out of 200+ that have made statements in the past week around this vote? So 1%. Fortunately for the other 99% our institutions give them the ability for general minority rule, and also give them tools to prevent many from voting against them and maintain power with smaller and smaller minorities. Decline and fall of the American republic is halfway done. We can’t wish it away.

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