Late last week, when it became obvious that Republicans had turned on then-House Republican Conference Chair Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.), the Washington Post‘s Dan Balz made the case that developments like these are inevitable.
The growing effort to remove Rep. Liz Cheney (Wyo.) from the third-ranking Republican leadership position in the House further accelerates her party’s full capitulation to Donald Trump’s “Big Lie” about the 2020 election. The move against Cheney is a sign of political cowardice. While shocking, it is not surprising for a party that has lost its way. The majority of Republican lawmakers appear to have stopped believing in truth — or lack the courage to speak the truth.
The analysis is obviously correct. Normal, healthy political parties in stable, vibrant democracies don’t punish their own leaders for telling the truth and encouraging their colleagues to respect election results.
But I’m struck by the familiarity the circumstances. When congressional Republicans launched the nation’s first-ever debt-ceiling hostage crisis around this time 10 years ago, many of us said it was shocking, but not surprising for a party that had lost its way.
When they shut down the government two years later, we said it again. When a racist television personality won the Republican presidential nomination in 2016, it was additional proof of a party that had lost its way. When GOP senators imposed an 11-month blockade on consideration of any Supreme Court nominee, we were reminded anew that the party had lost its way — a sentiment echoed when many of those same Republicans filled a different Supreme Court vacancy eight days before Election Day 2020.
When GOP officials looked the other way during Donald Trump’s first impeachment ordeal, we said the party had lost its way. When Republicans did it again during his second impeachment crisis, we said it once more.
The point isn’t that canceling Liz Cheney is somehow unimportant. In fact, I think the opposite is true: Republicans purging one of their own for telling them truths they don’t want to hear is plainly ridiculous and evidence of rot within the contemporary GOP.
What’s disheartening, however, is the frequency with which we’re forced to confront the realization that the Republican Party appears to be broken.