Today, Wednesday, May 12, 2021, the Republican Party ousted the third most powerful leader of their party. Liz Cheney’s crime? She refuses to kowtow to the lie that the 2020 election was stolen from Trump.
The election wasn’t stolen. Every election office in every state, including all the “Red” states, acknowledge that the 2020 election was the most secure in recent history. Recounts in several states demonstrated the accuracy of the counts. There was no significant fraud. Period. Proven.
But the Republican party has latched on to the lie. Why?
There are many reasons, but the main ones are:
- They can use it as an excuse to pass hundreds of voter suppression laws to block people from voting.
- They know they represent a shrinking minority of America.
- Rather than become more inclusive, they choose to lie to keep their base fearful of democracy.
It’s important to remember that today’s Republican party is the same as the party that was the Confederacy. They were the Southern Democrats (and their Northern Copperhead compatriots) in Lincoln’s time. They were the Jim Crow Southern Democrats early in the 20th Century. They were the Dixiecrats of 1948. They were the McCarthyites in the late 1940s-1950s. They were the Goldwater and William F. Buckley Movement Conservatives. They were the Reagan/Newt Gingrich Conservatives through to the present day.
The one common thread through all these labels and party changes is that they were all conservatives. When you hear people say something akin to “Democrats were the slave owners,” those Democrats were conservatives then. They are today’s Republicans. But always conservatives.
There is another common thread. Conservatives believe in, and demonstrate through actions, the fundamental principle called the “mud-sill theory” after a speech given by South Carolina Senator and plantation owner James Henry Hammond on March 4, 1858, the same speech in which he pronounced “Cotton is King.” I’ll delve into the mud-sill theory in more depth in a later post on my author website.
But back to today’s Republican Party. Liz Cheney is a scion with deep family roots in conservatism. Her father is much despised by liberals for his arrogance as much as his conservative beliefs (and getting us into Iraq on pretense). In any normal time she would be promoted, both politically and hierarchically in leadership positions.
And yet here we are.
Kevin McCarthy, the titular Republican party leader in the House, has gone full QAnon. Not that he believes that idiocy, but he recognizes that the Republican party has shrunk so tiny that it must embrace the most far right loonies living in an alternative reality that would make Sci-Fi writers envious. Literally nothing they believe in is true. Literally.
And the Republican party has purged their third-highest ranking leader because she refuses to buy into the lies.
Trump never reached 50% approval, and polls show that most of America disdains his continued dishonesty and attacks on democracy. Yet the Republican party knows it represents so few Americans that it must hug the loonies ever more tightly and count on their voting passion, combined with massive voter suppression, gerrymandering, and law changes that allow partisan zealots to overturn legitimate elections, to “win” them control of Congress in 2022.
The party is openly attacking democracy no less than the violent attack on the Capitol and members of Congress (and the sitting VP and VP-elect) on January 6, 2021. An attack that Trump instigated and his people planned and carried out with the willing participation of something like 150 sitting Republican members of Congress.
How ironic is it that the party that disdains government so much it constantly attacks democracy while trying every trick in the book to maintain control over government? Ironic, yes. But not unprecedented. It was the conservative plantation owners of the South who screamed “states’ rights” only after they lost their control of the federal government, a control they had only because of dishonesty, racism, and cheating the system. There really is no difference today.
So McCarthy is pushing out Cheney while supporting QAnon nutjob Marjorie Taylor Greene and hiding under the desk until the Matt Gaetz fiasco goes away quietly and hopefully soon without having to actually take any responsibility. Not to mention Mo Brooks, Madison Cawthorne, and a host of others who supported and encouraged insurrection, along with slightly less crazy-sounding Republicans who routinely mime anti-democracy dishonesty.
In 1860 the conservatives of the time pushed out long-time party leader Stephen A. Douglas, split along “establishment” vs “disunion” conservative lines, and almost succeeded in destroying democracy.
In 2020 the conservatives of our time attacked its long-time party leaders like past-presidential nominees John McCain’s wife and Mitt Romney, and now Liz Cheney, the daughter of a past vice president and a likely 2024 presidential candidate herself. Again, in an attempt to get democracy out of the way of minority rule. [There’s more on this I’ll cover in the mud-sill post]
This isn’t about the old versus the new. It’s about the near-reality versus psychopathic disregard for reality.
It’s about a real political party versus a cult.
The Republicans have chosen to be a cult.
David J. Kent is an avid traveler, scientist, and Abraham Lincoln historian. He is the author of Lincoln: The Man Who Saved America, Tesla: The Wizard of Electricity and Edison: The Inventor of the Modern World as well as two specialty e-books: Nikola Tesla: Renewable Energy Ahead of Its Time and Abraham Lincoln and Nikola Tesla: Connected by Fate.