Rep. Liz Cheney took a risk when she became one of the Republican Party's most vocal critics of Donald Trump and his anti-democracy efforts. By most measures, the Wyoming congresswoman has paid a price for doing what few others in her party have been willing to do.
Cheney was kicked out of her leadership post in the House Republican Conference; she's seen several primary rivals launch campaigns against her; and the House Freedom Caucus has expressed interest in stripping Cheney of her party affiliation on Capitol Hill altogether.
She's not, however, changing course. Over the weekend, the congresswoman appeared on Fox News and said, "I think the only way the Republican Party can go forward in strength is if we reject the lie, if we reject what happened on January 6th, if we reject the efforts that President Trump made, frankly, to steal the election, and if we tell voters the truth."
Yesterday in New Hampshire, Cheney went a little further. The Associated Press reported overnight:
Republican Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming said Tuesday that former President Donald Trump is at war "with the rule of law and the Constitution" and that GOP lawmakers who sit by silently are aiding his efforts. Cheney, a Trump critic who is vice chair of a congressional committee investigating the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection, said the challenge now is whether citizens will do their duty and "defend the Constitution and stand for truth."
"Will we put duty to our oath above partisan politics or will we look away from the danger and the threat, embrace the lies and enable the liar?" Cheney asked. "There is no gray area when it comes to that question, when it comes to this moment. There is no middle ground."
The congresswoman added, "We are also confronting a domestic threat that we have never faced before — a former president who's attempting to unravel the foundations of our constitutional republic, aided by political leaders who have made themselves willing hostages to this dangerous and irrational man."
As part of the same trip to New Hampshire — home to the first presidential primary — Cheney told Fox News that many of her fellow Republicans are thanking her for standing up to Trump, though they're not willing to do so in public.
"It's a real reflection of the times in which we live that privately and behind the scenes, there are many Republicans who say, 'Thank you for what you're doing. We wish we could be more public,'" the Wyoming lawmaker said. "People who understand that what the former president is saying is dangerous, is not true, and who know that our party's got to be a party based on truth, that we can't embrace the lie."
The trouble is, the party has already embraced the lie. Three-quarters of GOP voters have embraced Trump's Big Lie as if it were true — and the number has grown steadily over the course of the year, even as our electoral reality has become more obvious.
When Cheney asked yesterday, "Will we put duty to our oath above partisan politics or will we look away from the danger and the threat, embrace the lies and enable the liar?" it was a rhetorical question, but a painfully large majority of Republican voters are nevertheless answering that they prefer the latter to the former.
The congresswoman seems eager to offer an alternative vision inside a party that doesn't want one.