Like many conservatives, I supported Trump in 2016 despite his flaws simply because we couldn’t let Hillary Clinton change the balance of the Supreme Court for a generation. But it was always true that how the GOP moved forward in the post-Trump era would determine if 2016 was ultimately a pyrrhic victory.
The first test to see if the GOP kept its soul was Liz Cheney, and the party failed spectacularly. Cheney has been removed from her position as House Conference Chair, and Elise Stefanik has replaced her. Now Cheney is a solid conservative, but she’s hardly perfect. And when it comes to Republicans spending their days on CNN and MSNBC criticizing the party, there’s always the risk they’ll seek out what Ben Shaprio has so aptly termed “the strange new respect,” and become nothing more than a club for the left to beat the right with.
But Cheney wasn’t voted out because of her policy positions or even her frequent TV appearances. She fell out of favor because she had the courage to speak the truth; that Donald Trump lost a free and fair election.
Now several objections to this claim that she was ousted due to loyalty concerns have already been made and need to be addressed. The first is that Cheney is lingering on January 6th while the rest of the Party moves toward a brighter future, and she needs to move on.
But that’s completely backwards. Cheney is the one wanting to move the GOP past January 6th and the man whose lies allowed it to happen.
It’s other Republicans that are making Trump a key part of the GOP moving forward. How are we supposed to move on from January 6th when the guy who brought it on spends his nights ranting on stage that they’re still finding votes in New Hampshire to overturn the election?
Cheney has also been critiqued for supposedly disunifying the GOP when we need to be focused on defeating Biden’s radical agenda, but such criticism falls flat. There is, in fact, someone who is trying to break apart the GOP, attacking anyone deemed insufficiently loyal, and insulting both Mitch McConnell and Mike Pence, but it’s not Cheney. It’s the guy whose ring every Republican seems so desperate to kiss. And while it’s true that Biden’s agenda must be defeated, it’s not simply enough to hinder a bad agenda, the GOP must also further a good one.
Indeed, it’s this need to further a good agenda that the GOP has most failed at doing. This isn’t just about Cheney, it’s about Trumpism purging conservatism from the GOP.
Trumpism is many things, but it is not conservatism. This was made obvious when Trump endorsed Elise Stefanik, who the American Conservative Union gave a 57% rating, to replace Cheney, and spoke against Chip Roy taking the job who was given an 89% rating. Truly, few things have so better highlighted the fact that Trumpism is nothing more than blind loyalty to a deeply flawed man at the expense of conservative principles, and it is destroying the GOP from within.
Are we truly a party whose tent is too narrow for the woman who defended the Constitution and placed God and principles above a man, yet wide enough for the woman concerned about Jewish space lasers and the man who might be a sex-trafficker (or simply friends with a suspiciously high amount of sex-traffickers)?
Such foolishness has already had severe consequences. Trumpism lost us the House in 2018. Trumpism lost us the presidency while running against a house plant. It lost us the Senate. It’s caused ⅙ of Republicans to stop identifying as Republican.
So long as we side with the guy who failed to win the popular vote twice over a woman who won her election by 44 points, these problems will only worsen. The GOP will cease to win elections and we’ll have nothing to offer the American people except a personality cult for a man most of them wish would just go away.
It’s been said that the GOP is the party of Trump and Reagan. That’s true. But what some get wrong is in believing the two complement one another. In reality, Trump and Reagan, i.e, Trumpism and conservatism, aren’t just incompatible, they’re diametrically opposed. The GOP will emerge from this transition period as the standard-bearer for one or the other, and conservatism has a lot of ground to make up if it doesn’t want to be purged from its own party by the wolf it has chosen to cozy up to. This test was a failure, but we best make sure we pass the coming tests if the GOP is to be a party conservatives can be proud of rather than a Trumpian populist party conservatives have no business being a part of.
The views expressed in this article are the opinion of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Lone Conservative staff.