MINOT, N.D. — Rep. Liz Cheney may soon be out of her leadership position in the U.S. House Republican caucus.
As you probably know, her great sin is a refusal to stay silent about the lie disgraced former President Donald Trump and his most ardent supporters want to tell about the 2020 election.
They claim it was stolen, and Cheney, not to mention the rest of us living outside of Trump's cult of personality, knows otherwise.
Trump's cult will try to pretend that this isn't about loyalty to him. But how, then, to explain the movement within the Republican party to censure elected Republicans for being critical of Trump? Cheney has been censured by her state party. Sen. Mitt Romney, another outspoken Trump critic from Utah, survived a failed censure effort but was booed at his state party's convention. Sen. Ben Sasse of Nebraska wasn't censured but was "rebuked" by his state party over his criticism of Trump.
Even here in North Dakota, state lawmakers face censure efforts from their local district parties for being insufficiently Trumpy.
For my entire adult life, I have believed the conservative party to be a movement organized around ideas. And, for most of my adult life, that's been true, but in the Trump era, conservatism has become about trolling liberals and falling in line behind Troll-in-chief Donald Trump.
According to Rep. Majorie Taylor Greene, a Trump loyalist from Georgia who at one time claimed Jewish space lasers caused wildfires in California, Republicanism is about "#AmericaFirst and loyalty to Trump."
If she had stopped at the hashtag, her argument might have merit, but she didn't.
I spoke with Rep. Kelly Armstrong about the in-fighting in his caucus during a live stream. He said he wouldn't support Cheney carrying on in her position, though he argued that it's not about her criticism of Trump, but that said criticism has become a distraction.
Armstrong says people in a leadership position like Cheney's must sometimes put their personal feelings in the back seat for the sake of caucus unity, and I suppose there's a logic to that, but does that occlude any given elected leader's duty to the truth?
When those around you are lying about something as fundamentally important to the health and comity of our society as a national election outcome, can you really put your objections to that lie aside for the sake of unity?
If telling the truth tears Republicans apart, the problem is not the people trying to tell the truth but something else.
Conservatives can't just be against things liberals want. Conservatives have to be for things, too.
Right now, it seems the only thing many conservatives want to be for is Donald Trump.
That may be driving a lot of energy in the GOP right now, but is it a sustainable strategy? Will this grow the conservative movement and the Republican party to the point where their candidates can win national governing majorities again?
I think there may come a day when we recognize that Donald Trump was the worst thing to ever happen to the Republican party.
It would be easier for people such as Cheney and Sasse and Romney, and this humble correspondent, if we just went along with Trumpism. Joining is always easier than resisting, but the cost measured in integrity lost and truths obscured is just too high.
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Rob Port, founder of SayAnythingBlog.com, is a Forum Communications commentator. Reach him on Twitter at @robport or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.