They stood up for America and our constitutional democracy when their own Republican Party wouldn’t.
It is eerie how much they share in common. These two principled Republican women, Representative Liz Cheney of Wyoming and the late Senator Margaret Chase Smith of Maine, put their political futures on the line by standing up to a Republican Party gone rogue. Yes, it was then, and is now, the Republican Party that had, and that has, gone rogue, and not the few principled members who drew a proverbial line in the sand. As a former life-long Republican, it has been painful to watch a once great political party descend into such sycophantic allegiance to a self-absorbed pretender.
As is so often the case, it was the women (along with pathetically few male colleagues) who stood their ground in the face of risk and ridicule. They declared that an assault against our constitutional democracy could not go unchallenged. They understood that cowardly or venal acquiescence to a historic calumny had to be challenged.
Liz Cheney has drawn a line in the sand over the political savaging of an American presidential election, and it was Margaret Chase Smith who, seventy-one years ago, said NO! to the savaging of innocent fellow Americans by Republican Senator, Joseph McCarthy. Both women knew political warfare had run amuck. Both women showed political courage when nearly all of their male colleagues quaked in fear of angering a rogue; a rogue who had then, and another who has now seized the momentum of their Party; a Party that, itself, had and has gone rogue. Most of all, these women exhibited spine among the spineless.
Margaret Chase Smith first ran for Congress in 1940 to fill the seat of her ailing husband. The popular and hard-working lady from Maine won election after election by wide margins for thirty-three years. She was a loyal, moderate Republican who consistently put judgment and conscience above partisanship. While more Republicans eventually turned on the infamous Joseph McCarthy in 1954, it was a fearless freshman, Margaret Chase Smith, who, four years earlier, stood before them in the well of the Senate chamber and delivered her historic Declaration of Conscience. “…The American people are sick and tired of seeing innocent people smeared and the guilty whitewashed,” Margaret Chase Smith said. She was, of course, also speaking of the political fecklessness of so many of her colleagues.
It took four years for the U.S. Senate to condemn McCarthy, and even then, half the Republicans in the Senate could not bring themselves to vote against him. In that dark era, Margaret Chase Smith was willing to stand alone and call out Joseph McCarthy at great personal political risk. She famously challenged her colleagues when, she declared, “I don’t want to see the Republican Party ride to political victory on the four horsemen of calumny—fear, ignorance, bigotry, and smear.”
There should be a chorus of Republicans echoing those sentiments today, but there are pitifully few. Enter Liz Cheney, who, almost alone in the House of Representatives, has faced down her own fellow Republicans.
“I think it’s clear to all of the people…that our oath to the Constitution, our duty, our dedication to the rule of law, the peaceful transfer of power has to come above any concern about partisanship or about politics,” she said addressing a cowed and cowardly Republican caucus.
Liz Cheney knows she represents voters in the reddest of red states. She knows there is probably no state in the union in which Donald Trump could saunter to victory as effortlessly as in Wyoming, but Liz Cheney has shown herself to be more principled than partisan. She is as Republican as a real Republican can be. She is pure Republican aristocracy, but she is an American patriot first. Following the Capitol insurrection on January 6th, Liz Cheney voted for the impeachment of then-President Donald Trump (she voted against impeachment in his first Senate trial). Her Republicans colleagues, in retribution, have now booted her from leadership.
Ironically, Cheney has an off-the-charts Republican voting record. She even voted for Donald Trump twice, both in 2016 and 2020. She supported, however reluctantly, her Party’s standard-bearer until he turned his petulance and wrath against the Constitution and, therefore, against his Party and his country. She understood where real Republicans had to draw the line. And like patriots before her, she has been willing to put her political future on the line by choosing fidelity to the Constitution over fidelity to a rogue party leader.
Both of these women, especially on this July 4th, are worthy of the gratitude of the nation and, in particular, of those members of the Grand Ole Party who still might have some inkling of what once made their old party grand.
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You remind me even more today of the values of the grand ole party. My first influence, my father, was a Republican for life. No changes are impossible. I wonder if I am leaning away from the welfare state back toward the right.
Well done Hal. It seems clear that while the Democrats also have amongst them a few ‘bad actors’ the current Republican Party with few exceptions is in sum comprised of ‘bad actors’ ranging from spineless to outright demented. There are with the exception of your cited example no ‘Profiles in Courage’ in the current Republican Party.
It irritates, and even angers me, that media, columnists, and commentators continue to lump all conservatives into a group/party that has allegiance to Donald Trump (yes, he does have a name, instead of the disgusting name calling constantly being used).
If you get close to the grass roots instead of the surface look that gets reported, you will find a large number of conservatives that hold the traditional Republican values but do not have allegiance to Donald Trump.
Please stop lumping all of us together and assuming what you do not know. Dig deeper and you will find that a small number have the loudest voices but do not represent the total current conservative thinking.
It’s too bad that every week you continue to bash the right, and do not discuss the many issues and executive orders that have occurred in the first six months of this administration that are leading America far away from our traditional values. And perhaps assess the person in charge, and who is really making the decisions for our country? Our country will survive because it always does, but we need to come to a middle ground of thinking instead of continuing the divisive discourse that continues to be rampant in our media today.
Happy 4th and God Bless America!
I do not see how Hal bashes the right. I see Hal’s writing as a “wake-up call to the real Republican party”. Like Hal, I have been a lifelong Republican. I see an evil power that has cast itself upon good Republican men and women. I look forward to the day that the vail is lifted as it was once before. Then and only then will I be happy to call myself a Republican. I despair as I see Liz Cheney standing alone.
I can remember all too well when a common complaint was that the two main parties were too similar in their platforms and policies. Then, most Americans were somewhere in the middle. There was the usual posturing among the elected lawmakers, but eventually there was compromise and the system moved forward without endangering our democracy. The Constitution remained the underlying universal standard. It continued to work because most of us were somewhere in the middle and our electees understood that. Most voters could cross party lines freely at election time and not feel that they had violated their core principles. I did. Often. But now we have one party whose followers have fallen for the rhetoric of one individual who can do no wrong. Everything he says is taken as gospel and what he promises is the America that existed before the hard-won compromises that have shaped our laws to be more reflective of our current society. This “cult of the individual” is what we see in all the word’s dictatorships, from Kim Jong Un to Vladimir Putin. if it ever becomes the predominant system in America, that will signal the end of political debate and policies that represent the wishes of those of us in the middle. Extremism is the inevitable result of absolute power. May that never befall this sweet land.
To the writer of these blogs and his followers: Forget being called a Republican or even a Democrat. Trust me. All roads are leading to all of us being called “Comrade”. That will be a sad commentary indeed. And bashing Republicans does nothing to help the situation. It’s time we all wake up and come together to save our democracy by cherishing our Declaration of Independence, our sacred Constitution, the Bill of Rights and even the Ten Commandments, our country’s history, statues, and make our cities safe once more, and better education for our children (not indoctrination) etc. etc.
I like many have deep Republican roots. As a Jewish American my affinity for Israel and her people have always influenced my American political views.
As a woman I stand proudly with Liz Cheney. She stands true to her belief in what is right and what is clearly wrong.
A written and wonderful article. Thank you Hal and Happy Independence Day to all
I too am weary of the weekly republican bashing and painting all with the same brush. Let’s hear something positive for a change…. the present administration must be doing something positive for the Country……let’s hear about that…..
Response to Judy: “all with the same brush“??? Well, perhaps those Representatives who voted against certifying an election that had been duly certified by the Republican and Democratic Governors of all fifty states.
PS I’m very concerned about the weakness at our borders and the daily influx of illegals…… Why would we not believe that some of those are terrorist?
The answer which will never happen is TERM LIMITS
Once they ride the gravy train they never want to disembark