Liz Cheney’s loss to a staunch supporter of Donald Trump in the US primary underscores the dramatic shift in the Republican Party, which is moving with the former President from traditional conservatism to a leadercentric political formation.
Cheney’s failure Tuesday in Wyoming not only ended his hopes of running for a fourth term in the House of Representatives in November’s midterm elections, but also demonstrates the strong reluctance of Republican voters to take that path.
Cheney, the daughter of Dick Cheney, George Bush’s son’s former vice president, sided with Trump’s positions with 93% of his votes in the House of Representatives when he was president. But he dared to openly criticize him in a political movement that seems less and less open to dissent.
“I think the GOP is in very bad shape today and we have a lot of work to do,” Cheney told NBC the morning after his loss.
“The country needs a Republican Party based on substance, principle and conviction. (But) a party that, on the contrary, has embraced Donald Trump, embraced his cult personality, looks the other way,” he assessed.
Many Republican presidents, from Ronald Reagan to Bush Jr., have faced internal opposition. But debates about the people rarely overshadowed the party’s core tenets: lower taxes, free trade, a fragile federal power, and powerful security forces.
Today the “Grand Old Party” or GOP is united around a man who pays little heed to those codes.
“The Republican Party is not the ‘Reagan Party’ or the ‘Nixon Party,'” Aron Solomon of marketing agency Esquire Digital told AFP. “A party that got lost and has now found its way. But a pretty scary path for many.”
While the doctrine called “Reaganomics” has become a clear reference to neoliberalism, the ideology behind “Trumpism” is more difficult to describe as populism with a touch of nationalism.
“Trumpism” distances itself greatly from traditional forms of politics, but also alludes to the “cult of personality” described by Cheney.
However, Trump, who calls his Republican critics “RINO” (short for “Republicans in name only”), has not always been associated with this party. He was a Republican in the 1980s but later became an independent and even approached the Democratic Party, which he funded.
The metamorphosis of the Republican Party can also be seen when comparing the national party conventions of 1980 and 2020.
In 1980, the Reaganled party published a roughly 60page program with proposals on taxes, welfare, transportation, immigration, women’s rights, and health.
But in 2020, at the start of Trump’s reelection campaign, the party abandoned its political platform entirely, opting instead for blind support for its leader and his priorities, whatever they may be.
“Tragically, Republican principles seem to have been lost,” wrote Sean O’Keefe, who held a high position in George Bush Sr.’s administration. “Nothing demonstrates this more than the lack of a Republican agenda for 2020.”
Trump’s tight grip on the party was evident when more than twothirds of House Republicans refused to confirm Joe Biden’s election victory hours after Trumpists stormed Capitol Hill to keep the mogul in the White House.
And in further evidence of Trump’s hold on the party, of the 10 Republican congressmen who voted in January 2021 for his second House political process, only two will seek to hold their positions in November: four gave up in the election, repeat and four others were defeated in the primaries.
However, Cheney, who belongs to that second group, announced that he will do “whatever is necessary” to keep Trump out of the Oval Office and does not even rule out running for the 2024 presidential nomination.
But for analyst Solomon it would be more successful in the media than in the elections.
“Most likely we will see Liz Cheney as a radio and television commentator,” he said, “that would suit her and allow her to influence voters.”