A guest essay for The New York Times claimed Rep. Liz Cheney’s, R-Wyo., loss in the Republican primary Tuesday is part of a shift toward a more “cultish” form of Republican politics.
Cheney’s loss to Harriet Hageman “seems like a bad dream to many of Ms. Cheney’s Democratic admirers,” Stephanie Muravchik and Jon A. Shields wrote in the guest essay titled “Liz Cheney and the Twilight of the Old Republican Elite.”
“For a generation, progressives have imagined the moment when the white working class would finally turn against an insular and privileged Republican establishment. That day has arrived. But it isn’t what Democrats dreamed,” the authors continued.
The article warned that the defeat of Cheney came because today’s Trump-age Republicans are “Apparently uninterested in everyday governing,” instead these “new insurgents who elected Ms. Hageman are consumed with demonstrating that they are authentic conservative Republicans.”
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The writers suggested that Republicans in a way are imitating their opponents on the far-left, noting “they are succumbing to the same impulses they associate with their liberal opponents: a shrill hostility to different viewpoints, an obsession with virtue signaling and a willingness to purge their own ranks.”
The essay praised the Republican old guard of past eras, observing, “The older tradition of Republican politics…is still alive, thought embattled” and “Progressives who realize that this privileged Republican establishment was a linchpin of our democracy all along may start rooting for a counterrevolution from above rather than a revolution from below.”
The piece observed, “Now a conservative cancel culture as unforgiving as its progressive rival is sweeping over the Wyoming G.O.P.” It specified that “Ms. Cheney, of course, is the most prominent victim of that cancel culture: She has been censured twice by the party, and now has been voted out of office.”
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The authors wrote glowingly about the old Wyoming GOP establishment, claiming, “whatever its sins, it was also public spirited. It cared about the general welfare of the state and worked hard on its behalf, laboring away for a pittance in a legislature that begins its sessions in the dead of Wyoming’s punishing winter, when driving is treacherous.”
On the other hand, “The new identitarians infiltrating the State Legislature seem less interested in seeking remedies to real problems than in signaling to their base.”
Trump Republicans toppling Cheney was portrayed as a moral failure, suggesting “Ms. Cheney’s fall highlights the cultish character of the right’s evolving politics of identity.”
However, all is not lost according to the authors. “Sadly, the G.O.P. establishment was not strong enough to save Ms. Cheney. Happily, though, it isn’t dead,” they said, pointing to establishment control in the state legislature and certain counties, as well as similar fights playing out on other states.
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The piece concluded, “Though the outcome of the G.O.P.’s civil war is impossible to determine, one thing is clear: Both sides see the conflict in existential terms.” It added, “Ms. Cheney fought valiantly for the party’s soul and was celebrated by traditional Republicans in Wyoming for doing so. They don’t believe her cause is lost — and neither should we.”