Since the removal of Congresswoman Liz Cheney from her spot as the number three House GOP representative, a much needed spotlight has been focused on the extreme radicalization of the GOP. For context, Cheney is a far right congresswoman from Wyoming who is pro-life, pro-gun, and pro-border-wall, denies climate change, and wants less regulations for big corporations. In short, she agrees with everything that the far right usually supports.
Her recent removal from her position begs the question: where is the GOP going, and how did it get here? To backtrack, Cheney was removed from her position because of critical remarks she made against former President Donald Trump after the January 6 insurrection. Her remarks were simple: it was wrong for Trump to lie to the American people about winning the election, and he should be removed from office for inciting the insurrection. Cheney voted to impeach President Trump, which caused further controversy in the GOP. However, it is very telling that saying something as simple as “Trump did not win the election,” is considered controversial in the GOP. Has the GOP really gotten to a place where acknowledging the truth is considered sabotage? It definitely appears so.
To say that Cheney is some sort of patriotic American hero would also be false, and to make such a claim would only prove the point that the GOP party is becoming so radical that even upholding the rules of democracy is now seen as controversial. Cheney is doing the bare minimum: she is following her oath as a member of congress, and it is a shame that American politics have reached a place where we applaud our representatives for simply following the rules.
Another example of this new-found awe at politicians doing the bare minimum is the impeachment trial for Trump’s incitement of the January 6 insurrection. While watching Mitch McConnell speak critically of Trump in his speech, I had to remind myself that this was no occasion to be supportive of the Republican members of Congress who had for so long enabled the President and had been complicit in the lies that he was spreading about the election to the American people. Americans need to think more critically about who we are supporting, and if the representatives we support are part of the problem that they claim to be fighting. It should say something that although Cheney’s far right views aligned with Trump’s, her comments that questioned the lie he was telling was enough to get her booted from her position.
This string of events has shed light on an even more sinister truth: whether the GOP likes it or not, Trump is now the figurehead for their party. Trump’s cult-like “fan base” of supporters view him as a god-like icon, who can do no wrong. One might wonder, if these GOP senators and representatives think that Trump is tainting the image of the Republican party, why don’t they just all speak out against him to distance themselves? To put it quite simply, Trump’s “fan base” overlaps with many conservative representative’s supporters, so distancing from Trump would cause them to lose support from their voters, and hence would cause the representative to not get reelected. In short, many conservative representatives have made the calculated decision to keep their mouths shut, and be complicit in the Trump administration’s unethical and unconstitutional decisions in order to keep their power in the House. This dangerous cycle has cornered GOP representatives, because enabling the former President and standing by silently has caused millions of the American people to get wrapped up in Trump-mania with no reality checks.
Quite plainly, this divide between moderate Republicans, and Conservatives has caused a civil war in the Republican party, one that goes beyond just “politics.” The Republican party has now been split into two groups: those who believe that upholding democracy is a negotiable, political issue, and those who believe that upholding democracy is part of the government’s duty under the Constitution.
America’s standards have been lowered. We need to stop clapping for politicians who do the bare minimum, and instead focus on holding those who abuse their power accountable, so that America can finally have a functioning government, where adhering to the rules of democracy is normal.