A common question puzzled liberals ask is, what dirt or hold does Trump have on Republicans that makes them continue to defer to his will? The question gives Trump credit for magic powers that he clearly does not possess. It isn’t Trump they’re serving, it’s the popular will of the Republican masses,Trump’s quasi-literate, scrofulous base. They’re selling their souls for what they (probably correctly) believe to be what most, but not all, rank and file Republicans want: the disavowal of the legitimacy of the 2020 presidential election.
Rule by opinion poll is nothing new. Republicans have merely taken it to the next level. Any opinion or position that is even slightly out of line with Trump-loyal orthodoxy has become anathema. It’s no longer about Republican values, or even “family values” for that matter. It’s about how in line you are with Trump.
This new doctrinaire one question criterion for orthodoxy explains how a stalwart, unyieldingly conservative Republican galley slave like Liz Cheney can be usurped by a wet noodle mediocrity like Elise Stefanik. Stefanik is about to replace Cheney as the party’s third-highest member in the House caucus.
Republicans have become so fearful of the Trump shadow that they are unwilling to step outside of it into the sunlight. In so doing they give that shadow a depth and credibility it doesn’t deserve. Their myopia prevents them from seeing clearly what Trump has become, a has-been, a one-term, twice-impeached failure, a man who has never once commanded the popular vote. Republicans have become so self-loathing that they cannot climb out of the pit they have dug for themselves.
In short Republicans have ceased doing what at one time they did rather well: lead. The Reagan-era self-confidence, however arrogant, has been replaced by a putrid, querulous cowardice, not only afraid of Donald Trump’s shadow but their own shadows as well.
Nevertheless, before we go fast-track canonising Liz Cheney into sainthood, let’s not forget what she is. She’s a conspiracy propagandist who defended “birtherism,” the theory that Barack Obama isn’t an American citizen. She is aligned with the Center for Security Policy, a far right anti-Muslim hate group. She betrayed her gay biological sister by publicly coming out against same sex marriage.
Let’s not make the same single criterion mistake Republicans are making, by giving the few Republicans who oppose Trump a pass. Cheney is and has always been human excrement. Her high flown words in defense of the legitimacy of the election are all well and good, but she’s still a loathsome bigot and a true daughter of Dick.
Cheney’s refusal to rubber stamp everything Trump says is not enough to earn her special credit. No sequel to “Profiles in Courage” will include a chapter on her. The best Republican today is light years below the best of yesterday, the Eisenhowers, the Roosevelts and especially the Lincolns. There isn’t a single good one left, and with any luck they and their party will die an inglorious political death. And, as ever, ladies and gentlemen, brothers and sisters, comrades and friends, stay safe.