At first, many Republicans said Cheney had a right to say what she thought and criticize Trump for his role in the insurgency as they danced around his damaging and inaccurate claims that the election of the president Joe Biden had been rigged. Now their fears of appealing to his base in the next election seem to have convinced them that there is no room for disagreement with the former president and that having a critic of Trump on their team management is too painful.
This may be true of the more conservative voters who dominate the Republican primaries, given that a March CNN poll showed that about 67% of Republicans said they think Trump is having a good effect on the party. But House Republicans appear to be taking a harsher line than most Republicans about the need for unconditional loyalty to Trump. More than three-quarters (76%) of Republicans or Republican-leaning independents said the party should not penalize members who voiced their opposition to it.
Although Trump has endeared himself to 74 million voters by convincing them that he has expressed his opinion regardless of the consequences, Stefanik and other Trump allies seem to think that the safest political bet is to simply stand. upload. The New York Republican argued in an interview with Breitbart News radio on Saturday that it was the role of the GOP conference chairperson to put aside her own views.
“When you are the chair of the conference and communicate and are responsible for the party’s message in the House, you have to represent the majority of the membership and the majority of voters across the country,” Stefanik said. “Members of the Republican Conference have been very frustrated that she is not doing this anymore, and we are hearing that frustration among voters,” she said, arguing that the unified message will be “really important to by 2022 to have the best chance of winning back the majority. “
The position of conference chair is “not an opportunity to share your personal opinions – whatever they are,” added Stefanik. “You speak on behalf of the team,” she said. “I would also like to make sure that we don’t attack our colleagues and attack President Trump and his supporters. ”
As the internal struggle unfolded over the past week, some GOP leaders have been adamant about their view that the party must stand alongside the former president to survive politically – regardless of how it is viewed. by the general public – an unpredictable facet of the current political environment that will be tested in swing neighborhoods in 2022.
South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham – who warned after Trump’s February speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference that the former president had the ability to expand or “destroy” the Republican Party – described clearly the Republican Party’s current calculation when asked about Cheney.
“I’m just saying to my fellow Republicans – can we move forward without President Trump? The answer is no, ”Graham said in an interview with Fox News Thursday. “I’ve always loved Liz Cheney, but she decided the Republican Party couldn’t grow up with President Trump. I have determined that we cannot grow up without him.
No room for independence
Independent thought, and even dissent, has been tolerated during other phases of the history of the Republican Party. But the leaders who have reaped the biggest rewards since 2016 have fallen at the same rate as Trump – and Stefanik’s sudden rise is a case in point.
As CNN’s KFile reported last week, the New York MP has become one of Trump’s most visible supporters in Congress as part of his 2020 impeachment defense after making a different bet in the election. of 2016 when she often criticized Trump’s rhetoric and told voters she would be an “independent voice.”
On the flip side, Cheney, as well as Utah Senator Mitt Romney – the 2012 Republican presidential candidate who voted to convict Trump in the 2020 and 2021 impeachment trials – and other members who have resisted the lies of the election of the former president face considerable heat at home.
Romney, who was booed at a recent Utah Republican Party rally (although he survived a censorship attempt) as he reminded his audience that he had promised to be independent from Trump, defended Cheney in a tweet last week, “Anyone of conscience draws a line beyond which they won’t go: Liz Cheney refuses to lie. ”
“As one of my Senate Republican colleagues told me after my impeachment vote, ‘I wouldn’t want to be a member of a group that punishes someone for following their conscience,” Romney added.
But at least in Congress, the wing of the Republican Party willing to do just that seems to be growing.
The premise of Cheney’s argument – in what appears to be an intentional attempt to fight in the hopes of helping resurrect the Republican Party later, perhaps as a candidate for the White House – is that ” while accepting or ignoring Trump’s statements “might help the party raise funds or position itself politically now,” this approach will cause deep, long-term damage to our party and our country, “she said. written in a Washington Post editorial.
The Washington Post reported on Saturday that Cheney was increasingly unstable this spring after noticing that staff at the Congressional Republican National Committee omitted a key finding about Trump’s weaknesses in battle districts during a polling point. during a Republican retreat in April.
According to Cheney, the omission of this information about Trump’s vulnerabilities demonstrated the depth of denial within the party about the threat it poses, according to the Post report.
Midterms 2022 will test which side of the GOP is right on this issue. But as the party continues to purge and punish the few members willing to contradict Trump, they don’t show voters much about what they stand for other than blind loyalty to a president who has lost.