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The impasse of the anti-Trump Republicans

By Jonathan Bernstein

Two years ago, Wyoming Republican Liz Cheney was on her way to becoming the future speaker of the US House of Representatives. She was the third-ranking Republican in the House, with a completely safe seat. She lost that seat in the Republican caucus and now she has lost her seat in the lower house of Congress altogether. And all this because she decided to stand by the US constitution and democracy and against the crimes of a Republican president of the country.

Weak ties

An underrated factor in Cheney’s rise and fall was that she was always a national politician who was simply elected in Wyoming.

Born in Wisconsin, he went to school near the US capital Washington, D.C., while attending university in Colorado, before embarking on a Washington-based career in government and the Republican Party. Indeed, her first attempt to win office in Wyoming — a short-lived 2014 bid against Republican Sen. Mike Enzi — found her facing the charge of a paratrooper with no ties to the state.

In 2016, she was able to overcome this hurdle and win a widowed state seat in the federal House, however her focus has always been on national rather than local policy issues. He never developed the kind of deep connections that many members of the House have with their constituencies.

Even her father, who was certainly from Wyoming, didn’t spend much time in the state after college, especially after he represented it in the House from 1979 to 1989. He, too, entered politics as a national rather than a local. politician. There is nothing wrong with that. So are many leaders in Congress.

However, the weaker the parliamentarian’s ties to his constituency, the more vulnerable he is to possible upheavals. Cheney was winning her election as a strongly partisan Republican. She lost this week as one of the few Republicans in Washington to oppose the nation’s last Republican president.

Cheney campaigned against Trump as a national rather than a local politician. Its final two-minute ad was expressly aimed at both a national and state audience. No time for a candidate running as a “trustee” – a member of parliament who asks the electorate to trust her to make decisions on their behalf. She wasn’t even a candidate campaigning against her opponents, whom she barely mentioned as irresponsible opponents of democracy.

Instead, Cheney was basically asking Republicans to use their vote to oppose a former president who wasn’t even on the ballot. It was a tall order anyway, even if Republican voters had serious doubts about Trump.

Whether or not she was seriously seeking re-election, Cheney’s defense of democracy and the rule of law was outstanding, as was her contribution to the congressional inquiry into the events of January 6, 2021.

The third candidate

Now, the outgoing congresswoman is vowing to continue her fight against Trump, perhaps with a presidential run. It’s hard to see how she would achieve her goals in the Republican primary for the party’s presidential nomination, especially if Trump does run in 2024. An avowedly anti-Trump candidate seems unlikely to win. . If anything, such a campaign is likely to split the anti-Trump vote and help him win the governorship.

An anti-Trump candidate outside of Republicans and Democrats, i.e. flying a third party flag or independent in the general election may be more successful. In 2000, Ralph Nader focused his campaign on swing states and worked to secure the votes of those who would otherwise support then-Democratic candidate Al Gore. But even if Cheney were willing to campaign for a Democratic candidate over Trump, it would still be a controversial proposition, as it could win votes that would otherwise go to the Democratic nominee.

A true Nader-style anti-Trump candidate would probably have to ignore Trump’s crimes and misdemeanors and run a campaign solely under the banner of extreme conservative political preferences, hoping to alienate some Republicans who might be tempted by the thought of voting for a “Real “Conservative.

Paradoxes

Ironically, Cheney’s father was on his way to becoming Speaker of the House when his own career took a turn in 1989. Dick Cheney was the second-ranking Republican in the House behind a soon-to-retire party leader, but became George W. Bush’s defense secretary when the then US president’s first choice for the ministry was defeated in the Senate.

Additionally, Dick Cheney’s greatest achievement during his career in Congress also included serving on an investigative committee that, in this case, was investigating the Iran-Contra affair—but his role then was to limit the political damage from research rather than helping to conduct it effectively.

It certainly doesn’t seem likely that Liz Cheney will soon be serving as a cabinet minister, let alone vice president or president of the United States. But as hard as it is to see a next step that would help her fix the Republican Party and revive its commitment to the constitution and the rule of law, she may end up having a significant political career anyway.

Source: Bloomberg

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