Please don’t call Liz Cheney a hero for saying she’ll vote to impeach
Yesterday, Congresswoman Liz Cheney, daughter of former vice-president Dick Cheney and third-ranking Republican member of the House of Representatives, announced that she would be voting to impeach president Donald J. Trump. In a scathing statement, the Congresswoman acknowledged that the president “summoned the mob, assembled the mob, and lit the flame of the attack,” adding that, “There has never been a greater betrayal by a president of the United States of his office and his oath to the Constitution.”
A stalwart and often partisan Republican herself, Cheney’s recent change of heart has been viewed by many as an act of political heroism, designed to save the republic from doom and destruction at its most desperate hour. And while it’s true that Cheney’s perfectly timed announcement likely served as a rallying cry to on-the-fence Republicans who felt torn between party and country, to offer her — or any Republican — credit for saving us now ignores everything that led up to this moment.
That’s because Congresswoman Cheney and her colleagues had the ability to prevent the coup from happening in the first place. A year ago, when Republicans found themselves face-to-face with a different impeachment, they sought political solidarity and personal gain over the good of the country. Even the Republicans most critical of Trump’s behavior decided, in the end, not to support his removal from office.
The so-called conscience of people like Congresswoman Cheney is not necessarily rooted in altruism. Over the course of the past week, numerous large donors, including the United States Chamber of Commerce, have announced that they intend to suspend donations to certain Republican lawmakers. Some of these donors have even stated that they will not donate to any lawmaker who voted against certifying the results of the 2020 election. In the House of Representatives, there were 140 members who voted thusly, and so Republicans like Congresswoman Cheney, who likely intend to remain in politics forever, have perhaps recognized the need to staunch the bleeding. What better way to offer a newer, softer side to the party of insurrection than to finally hold the president accountable, after four years and horrors too lengthy to list?
Political expediency may be why Mitch McConnell has, according to a recent report by the New York Times, himself toyed with voting to convict the president. Such a vote would likely influence other undecided members of the Senate, and could ultimately result in Trump’s inability to hold public office ever again. Rid of the albatross, the Republicans will finally be able to move on.
Except, not really. As much as this pregnant moment requires a repudiation from both sides of the aisle, do not allow the people who fed the monster to offer a wan apology and move on without consequence. Republican members of the House and Senate own this degradation of democracy, for waiting until it was far too late to summon their so-called moral compasses. They looked the other way as Trump sullied our institutions. They supported his outrageous policies, which included separating infant children from their parents at the southern border, leaving the Paris Climate Accord, and circumventing the Clean Air Act via executive order. They supported a reframing of the Supreme Court and a stacking of the federal bench, which will haunt Americans for years. And yes, in the end, they supported the president’s clear collusion with a foreign power — all because it suited their immediate needs.
Should these Republicans stand up now, when our country is in tatters? Of course. But to attribute heroism to these characters is to fail to grapple with what they wrought upon this tired nation.
Make no mistake: every single Republican should join Congresswoman Cheney in voting to impeach. To fail to do so would be to admit a true disinterest in the preservation of this republic. But one vote cannot erase the stain of these four years, and that stain will remain on the Republican Party and its members for decades to come.