Guest column: Republicans face a choice
This week, Republican party leaders removed Wyoming Representative Liz Cheney from her official party leadership position. Her crime is daring to state openly that Joe Biden won the presidential election.
While ousting her from the leadership position may have been intended to silence her voice, she continues to speak out as a leader in defense of American democracy.
“Today we face a threat America has never seen before,” said Rep. Cheney. “A former president, who provoked a violent attack on this capital in an effort to steal the election, has resumed his aggressive effort to convince Americans that the election was stolen from him. He risks inciting further violence. Millions of Americans have been misled by the former president, they have heard only his words, but not the truth.”
Many have spoken of the political courage Rep. Cheney has demonstrated, but fewer mention the personal courage it takes to speak out. Her words put her life at risk by placing a target on her back for those extremists who stormed the U.S. Capitol.
Contrast Liz Cheney’s acknowledgment of reality and courage with the testimony offered by Georgia Congressman Andrew Clyde during a hearing on the January 6 insurrection.
"Watching the TV footage of those who entered the Capital and walked through Statuary Hall showed people in an orderly fashion staying between the stanchions and ropes taking videos and pictures. You know, if you didn't know the TV footage was a video from January the 6th, you would actually think it was a normal tourist visit."
These two statements represent the stark choice all Republicans now face. Many, such as Rep. Clyde, have decided to remain loyal to Donald Trump rather than the United States Constitution.
In light of the former president’s ongoing attempts to promote the idea that he actually won the election, continued loyalty to him requires a denial of reality that allows you to compare a violent occupation injuring 140 policemen to a normal tourist visit.
As someone who has been fortunate enough to be a tourist in that building many times, my experience has been that my fellow tourists, almost without exception, treat the building and the ideals it represents with the utmost respect.
It takes a similar denial of reality to question the 2020 presidential election, which is probably the most examined, analyzed, evaluated, investigated and litigated in American history. Nevertheless, no evidence of significant fraud was found.
While some will continue to deny reality, other Republicans will choose to follow the lead of Liz Cheney by evaluating the facts honestly and acknowledging the result, even though they may not approve.
There is no doubt the vote hinged on Rep. Cheney speaking the truth, because Cheney voted with Donald Trump on policy much more often than did her replacement, Elise Stefanik, who supports the fantasy that the former president won the 2020 election.
Nevertheless, even though Trump continues to claim the election was stolen, Minority leader Kevin McCarthy said, “I don’t think anybody is questioning the legitimacy of the presidential election.”
That denial may place a target on his back as big as the one Liz Cheney carries for honoring the Constitution, affirming our faith in the American democratic process and continued confidence in the American system of justice.
Rep. Cheney said, “We cannot both embrace the big lie and embrace the Constitution. And going forward, the nation needs it. The nation needs a strong Republican Party. The nation needs a party that is based upon fundamental principles of conservatism. I am committed and dedicated to ensuring that that’s how this party goes forward. And I plan to lead the fight to do that.”
It will be interesting to see how many Republicans follow Representative Cheney in her fight for the Constitution and how many follow the “tourists” who stormed the capitol.
It doesn’t seem much of an overreach to say the fate of the Republican party, and the future course of American democracy hangs in the balance.
— Tony Choate has lived in the Ardmore area for more than 50 years. He earned his master's degree in political science from Purdue University after earning a bachelor's degree in legal studies from East Central University. He worked for several years as an adjunct instructor for Murray State College, teaching courses in American history and American government and politics.