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Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming is expected to lose her role in House Republican leadership on Wednesday. Her transgression? She keeps telling the truth.
The Republican Party is in danger of becoming a cult of personality rather than a source of conservative ideas. Efforts to punish members of Congress who have spoken out against former President Donald Trump and his ongoing perpetuation of the myth that the 2020 presidential election was stolen from him illustrate this danger.
Cheney, the number three leader in the Republican House caucus, is likely to lose her leadership job this week because she refuses to get on board with Trump’s continued fantasy about a stolen election. She also continues to criticize Trump, whom she voted to impeach, for his role in inciting the riot at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6.
“[W]e Republicans need to stand for genuinely conservative principles, and steer away from the dangerous and anti-democratic Trump cult of personality,” Cheney wrote in a recent Washington Post column. “In our hearts, we are devoted to the American miracle. We believe in the rule of law, in limited government, in a strong national defense, and in prosperity and opportunity brought by low taxes and fiscally conservative policies.”
Closer to home, some Republicans remain upset with Sen. Susan Collins for daring to break ranks with the party on Trump’s second impeachment and other big votes. While the Maine Republican Party sensibly avoided censuring Collins for her vote to impeach Trump in February, two county party organizations have censured her. The Aroostook County Republicans did so in March and the Piscataqusis County Republican Committee followed suit in April.
As we’ve said before, this amounts to censuring Susan Collins for being Susan Collins — for being the leader she and the Maine Republican Party said she would be.
Collins was recently named the most bipartisan member of the U.S. Senate for the eighth year in a row, according to an analysis from the Lugar Center and Georgetown University McCourt School of Public Policy.
Working with people who have different views is nothing new for Collins. Making decisions based on facts rather than party dogma is nothing new for her. She has been part of bipartisan groups that have hammered out agreements on issues as varied as stimulus funding, environmental regulations, policy for LGBTQ service members and many others.
We’re not the only people who see value in Collins’ sustained approach to working across the political aisle. Maine people reelected her last year to a historic fifth term, in part because of her continued crossover appeal with voters who backed a Democrat for president.
And we can’t be the only people who tripped over this line from the Piscataquis County Republicans’ censure: that Collins “continuously muddles her opinions and refuses to give principled stances on numerous issues when queried.”
They see muddling. We see hard decisions made and explained in detail. We see nuanced positions that reflect complicated realities. We see Collins following through on what she said she would do and who she said she would be. There are times that we disagree with Collins or think she and her office could provide more information, sure, but we’d never expect unanimity with her or anyone else.
If the Pisqataquis County Republican Committee is concerned about muddling, they might want to take another look at the “resolution of protest” crafted earlier this year by their own county commissioners to decry actions taken by Gov. Janet Mills during the COVID-19 pandemic. The commissioners muddled their way through basic facts while flying in the face of Maine’s public access law.
And yet, the Pisqataquis County Republicans supported that flawed resolution while condemning the media for pointing out the flaws.
“Finally we condemn the biased, one-sided coverage by the Regime media that has covered the County Commissioner’s resolution about the lack of representation in a manner that would be more fitting in a one-party state, such as North Korea or Communist China,” the county party said in a letter in the Piscataquis Observer.
At a time when a national Republican leader is set to be cast aside for speaking the truth, when fealty to a single man and selective amnesia about his actions are becoming a prerequisite to good standing in the party, we can’t help but ask a question.
What seems more like Communist China, a free press evaluating the claims of local government officials and identifying obvious inaccuracies, or a political party that demands uniformity of thought and allegiance to a single leader? The answer, we hope, is self-evident.