The Removal of Cheney: Causes, Contention and Consequences
by gabriel dawson
On Wednesday, May 12, Elizabeth Cheney was removed from her position as Conference Chair of the Republican House minority. This is the third most powerful position that a Republican representative can hold, and its primary role is communicating party messaging. Her removal is primarily attributed to her vocal criticism of Donald Trump. This action by the House may seem to be a common transfer of power, but it has the potential to set a precedent that will have a significant impact on the future of Republican politics.
Wyoming representative Cheney was first elected to Congress in 2016, running on a platform of expansion of energy, tax cuts, and second amendment rights. She gained popularity among her colleagues through her party discipline and support for Trump throughout the majority of his presidency. Due to her very conservative views, in 2018 she was elected conference chair. Rather than parting with Trump on political positions, there were two related factors that caused her shift to oppose him. These were January 6, and what she refers to as The Big Lie.
On January 6, Trump held a rally in Washington which Cheney, and many others, viewed as an incitement of the violence seen at the US capitol building later that day. This speech stoked the flames of fear of covered-up election fraud– a sentiment that a majority of Republicans held at that time and Trump himself actively promoted. Cheney referred to this as The Big Lie. That day, Congress intended to formally count the electoral college votes, and the violence was intended to stop this. This attack on the peaceful transfer of power was viewed by many as a turning point in US politics.
Cheney spoke openly and extensively of her disapproval of these events leading to an unsuccessful vote of no confidence in February to unseat her from her role. To Cheney, this seemed to reflect a willingness to accommodate her position, but after her criticisms of Trump increased and she voted to impeach, this accommodation quickly dwindled. While many of Cheney’s colleagues defend her removal by expressing concerns about the ramifications of infighting on the electoral strength of the GOP, critics of it worry that it reinforces a newly emerging trend towards a fully Trump-loyalist Republican party.
Cheney’s loss of her high-profile role drew substantial media coverage, but this is not an isolated event. Alaska’s Republican senator Lisa Murkowski (independent in 2010) came under similar fire from the GOP and is losing conservative voters as a result. However, last November Alaska passed a voting reform initiative called Top-four Ranked-choice which will entail one open primary where the top four candidates will progress to the general election ballot. This could certainly be a remedy to concerns of party politics overinfluencing elections, but it is still small-scale. These politicians’ opposition to Trump, not political stances, are a threat to their careers. This yields a question that the republican party will need to ask itself. Is Trump-loyalism a new requirement of a republican politician?
PROUDLY POWERED BY SOL DE MEDIANOCHE NEWS, LLC. Sol de Medianoche is a monthly publication of the Latino community in Anchorage, Alaska