Whatever Else, Applaud Liz Cheney's Defense of the ConstitutionRoundup
tags: Republican Party, Liz Cheney, January 6
James M. Banner, Jr., is the author, most recently, of The Ever-Changing Past: Why All History Is Revisionist History (Yale, 2021).
Over the last year, one of the most extraordinary performances of civic grit in American history has played out before our eyes: Liz Cheney’s demonstration of principled constitutionalism. Even those of us who disagree with her policy views ought to acknowledge her bravery. Now, as the congresswoman faces a challenge in today’s Republican primary for Wyoming’s sole House seat—a challenge she is expected to lose—it is worth taking a moment to recognize what she has done.
She did not have to vote, with just nine other House Republicans, for President Donald Trump’s impeachment one week after January 6th.
She did not have to break with her party in insisting that Trump, even out of office, be held accountable for his 2020 election falsehoods and for inciting the mob that attacked the Capitol on January 6th. She could have stayed silent and held on to her House GOP leadership position. But she spoke up and clashed with Kevin McCarthy, and by May 2021, her colleagues voted her out of the chairmanship of the House Republican Conference.
She did not have to vote for the creation of an independent commission to look into the events of January 6th, one of just 35 House Republicans to do so.
She did not have to accept Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s appointment to the House January 6th Committee, created after Senate Republicans killed the proposal for an independent commission. She did not have to accept the invitation to serve as the committee’s vice chair. Nor did she have to play such a prominent part in leading the committee’s inquiry into the events of January 6th.
By standing resolutely in defense of the Constitution, Cheney has brought before the entire nation a rare kind of American patriotism. She’s also gained an almost unique standing among Americans of good will and made clear the incontestably best solution—the application of constitutional principle—to the gravest domestic crisis the nation has faced since the Civil War.