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Port: Would that we had more like Liz Cheney

A political leader willing to lose on principle is a rarity in any era of American history. Seeing one in 2022, as Trump trumpets lies and incites violence about the 2020 election, is something akin to spotting a dinosaur in the wild.

U.S. Representative Cheney departs after meeting with fellow Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the U.S. Capitol members and Speaker Pelosi at the Capitol in Washington
Rep. Liz Cheney R-Wyoming, listens to a reporter’s question as she departs after meeting with fellow Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the U.S. Capitol members and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-California, at the Capitol in Washington on July 1, 2021.
JONATHAN ERNST/REUTERS
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MINOT, N.D. — Rep. Liz Cheney lost in Wyoming's primary last night, and the Trump idolators are feeling triumphant.

Trump's vengeance against those Republicans in the U.S. House who voted to impeach him is nearly complete. Of the 10, four opted not to run for re-election this cycle, and four more, a number now including Cheney, have been defeated in primaries .

Donald Trump
Donald Trump
File photo

How this plays out for the GOP long-term, punishing pragmatic and thoughtful Republicans for insufficient loyalty to a lying, dishonest cretin willing to attack the very foundations of our republic if it means he can stay in power, is yet to be seen. It hasn't gone well so far. The Trump era saw Republicans lose control of the House, then the Senate, and then the White House.

The grip Trump and his loyalists have on the GOP will end when rank-and-file Republicans get tired of that sort of "winning."

But for now, and for worse, the GOP is largely Trump's party. But let's get back to Liz Cheney.

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“If the cost of standing up for the Constitution is losing the House seat,” she told The New York Times not so long ago , “then that’s a price I’m willing to pay.”

A political leader willing to lose on principle is a rarity in any era of American history. Seeing one in 2022, as Trump trumpets lies and incites violence about the 2020 election, is something akin to spotting a dinosaur in the wild.

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Cheney has given up a lot to maintain her opposition to Trumpism. Last cycle, she won her state's primary with nearly 75% of the vote, and the general election with almost 70%. She was a rising Republican star in a safe Republican state, the daughter of a former vice president, who already had a leadership role in the GOP's House caucus, and who was likely in line to be speaker of the House one day, should the right stars align.

She could have stayed silent about Trump, she could have refused to stand up to his lies and demured from her current role as one of the loudest voices opposing his influence in American politics, and kept it all.

Many Republicans have. They know what Trump is. They know the threat he portends for the American republic. Yet they remain loyal, because doing the right thing, the principled thing, might cost them too much personally.

It's craven, but it's true.

It makes me think of author Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn's anecdote about Soviets who were afraid to stop applauding Comrade Stalin from "The Gulag Archipelago." In his story, sore-handed party members were saved from the agony of clapping continuously by a factory director who was, finally, the first to stop.

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Cheney stopped applauding Trump, and while she hasn't been sent to prison, she has been stripped of her leadership position , censured by her state party , censured by her national party , and now defeated in her party's primary.

All because she was insufficiently loyal to Donald Trump, a tyrant hiding behind the trappings of American patriotism.

No person is entitled to represent a political party on the ballot, or to sit in a seat in Congress. Those privileges are granted with the consent of the governed.

But sometimes the voters are wrong.

Good leaders are willing to tell the voters when they're wrong, and accept the consequences.

Liz Cheney is a good leader.

There may have been other reasons, reasonable and coherent, to cast Rep. Cheney out of Congress, but her opposition to Donald Trump was never one of them.

Opinion by Rob Port
Rob Port is a news reporter, columnist, and podcast host for the Forum News Service. He has an extensive background in investigations and public records. He has covered political events in North Dakota and the upper Midwest for two decades. Reach him at rport@forumcomm.com. Click here to subscribe to his Plain Talk podcast.
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