Like an aging diva, blinded by the lights that obscure an empty auditorium, U.S. Representative Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) desperately imitates her supposed rivals to woo her already-departed fans. Robust and confrontational, the Reagan-style ideals of limited government, personal responsibility, and optimism are poison to her beltway cocktail circuit. Cheney’s recent speech is a clinic in the Republicans’ second-place strategy that has kept them out of power in Congress for most of the post-war era
“I will do everything I can to ensure that the former president never again gets anywhere near the Oval Office,” Cheney said. “We have seen the danger that he continues to provoke with his language. We have seen his lack of commitment and dedication to the Constitution, and I think it’s very important that we make sure whomever we elect is somebody who will be faithful to the Constitution.”
What a load of crap. Cheney has shirked her constitutional duty to check uniparty power and the right of citizens to challenge leftist authority.
Who is she even talking to? The elite, college-educated outrage addicts who hated Trump have already left the Republican tent. Liz Cheney is living in 1994 if she thinks she’s appealing to anyone who remains in the Republican Party.
In 1994, as Newt Gingrich swept to power under the “Contract with America,” to be a conservative Republican had a coherent ideological identity. Back then, Republicans were a loose coalition of the Chamber of Commerce pro-business interests, evangelical pro-life conservatives, and patriotic pro-military interventionists.
In his book Ship of Fools, Tucker Carlson explains a phenomenon that’s obvious to most Americans outside of the American nomenklatura: The new rich led a defection away from conservative principles to a supremely cynical convergence of leftist authoritarianism and corporate license. What this new political camp lacks in moral legitimacy, it can more than offset with marketing. Companies like Google, Facebook, and Twitter coordinate to enforce message discipline in practically every facet of life.
The terms “Right” and “Left” have ceased to mean anything. Reagan’s description of the true political divide is even more relevant today. “You and I are told increasingly we have to choose between a Left or Right,” he said famously in 1964. “Well, I’d like to suggest there is no such thing as a Left or Right. There’s only an up or down: [up] man’s old—old-aged dream, the ultimate in individual freedom consistent with law and order, or down to the ant heap of totalitarianism. And regardless of their sincerity, their humanitarian motives, those who would trade our freedom for security have embarked on this downward course.”
Until November 3, 2020, supposedly it was everyone’s patriotic duty to reject President Trump’s illegitimate election victory. As late as October, for example, Hillary Clinton said, “There was a widespread understanding that this election [in 2016] was not on the level . . .We still don’t know what really happened.” Then, from the woman who paid Fusion GPS to create and promote the Russia collusion hoax, comes this gem about 2020 election skeptics: “The generous explanation is that it’s hard to comprehend the danger of what seem like ridiculous conspiracy theories until you experienced that danger firsthand.” By “ridiculous conspiracy theories,” she means conspiracy theories that Clinton did not herself commission.
Anyone could say anything, no matter how outlandish, as long as it stood in opposition to the big bad orange man. All the sheep bleated “courageously” as the tech oligarchs approved and promoted their “truth to power” speeches, posts, and tweets. It all had a vaguely zombie-like quality as we watched ostensibly independent media outlets promote the same stories covered from the same angles using the same vocabulary.
Then, like the scene in “1984” when the government switched sides in its great war, the script changed mid-breath. Questioning an election result was suddenly dangerous to democracy. In 2016, rioters engaged in insurrection against Trump’s victory got away scot-free. In 2020, protesters who disputed the election results are now held without bail or trial. Guards savagely beat one so badly that he’s lost his eyesight in one eye. I have been unable to locate any condemnation by Cheney of the 2016 riots or the mistreatment of Americans held without bail following the January 6 2020 incident.
What elite Republicans like Cheney have failed to grasp is that Trump didn’t realign the Republican Party. He tapped into something that had already happened and is now accelerating. The establishment’s constituency looks like an hourglass. It has captured the very rich and the non-working poor. But paycheck Americans increasingly feel exploited, abused, and despised by their leaders, including Republicans themselves.
The system cannot function without the paycheck Americans. While college-educated bureaucrats and corporate drones hid from COVID-19 inside their basements, paycheck Americans delivered DoorDash on bald tires. When gas prices spike (if you can even find gas), our compassionate Biden Administration suggests that working Americans deserve their misery for not buying a Tesla to deliver artisanal hamburgers to their betters. And when the price of bread surges because of terrible agricultural policy, perhaps we peasants can eat cake?
Whatever the opposition to the corporate-leftist coalition really is (because increasingly it does not appear to be a role the Republican Party is willing to accept), Liz Cheney and those like her have delivered it the gift of clarity. Republicans like Cheney are more concerned about social awkwardness at Jackson Hole chairlifts than they are about their constituents.
But this great leftist-corporate coalition can’t and won’t last forever. Like the giant oak in Atlas Shrugged, it’s completely rotten on the inside—ready to tumble in the next storm. And the first gusts of a storm have already emerged. Reality has begun to reassert itself in the form of a border crisis and inflation. As the value of the long-abused money supply comes back into alignment with real market conditions, Americans may have an opportunity to re-price their labor and shake off some of the parasitic class that has fed, without consequence, on the public fisc.