The past few years have reshaped the political arena for decades to come. Not only is this a result of just the pandemic, but also of the Trump administration and the divide that has been created in the country. However, no divide seems to be starker than the one brewing in the Republican Party as members clash over opinions regarding the former president. Headlines were made when prominent Republicans ousted Liz Cheney from her leadership position in the House of Representatives as a result of her speaking out against former President Donald Trump and his false accusations of election fraud. Her removal shows that a majority of Republican leadership still back the former president, and this reflects on the future of the GOP for years to come.
The current political climate within the GOP reflects the fallout of the former Trump administration. This past year, Trump’s false claims led to the Jan. 6 storming of Capitol Hill which interfered with the democratic process of certifying the election and led to the deaths of five people and countless injuries. However, what’s more unsettling is that despite the clear motives and causes of said event, prominent Republicans have continuously made attempts to deny the insurrection or minimize the impact of the siege. However, a few prominent Republicans remain to be an exception.
Elizabeth Lynne “Liz” Cheney is an American attorney and politician who has served as the U.S. representative for Wyoming’s at-large and only district since 2017. As the daughter of prominent Republican Dick Cheney, she had served an important role in Bush’s administration, holding various positions in the U.S. State Department. But her rise in the GOP began with her election to the House of Representatives in 2016, where her popularity rose considerably amongst her constituents as one of the most conservative members of Congress. Cheney supported the traditional conservative narrative regarding foreign policy, the economy, national security and other issues. Within the current House of Representatives, Cheney’s popularity allowed her to acquire a prominent leadership position as the No. 3 House Republican. However, regardless of her popularity and positions, Cheney stood out as one of the few Republicans to actively hold Trump accountable.
Unfortunately, this led to her falling out of favor with the GOP, and through her defiance, the start of her removal process. Though this is rather the second time this year that Liz Cheney faced a vote for removal, this is unfortunately her first without receiving support from Minority House Leader Kevin McCarthy. On May 12, Republicans went through with the removal of Rep. Cheney from her party leadership role due to her criticism of Trump’s lies and role in the insurrection. In response to her removal, she has remained defiant and has promised to do whatever she can to stop the former president from getting elected again.
With Liz Cheney out of the picture, Republican leaders are looking for new candidates. Elise Stefanik originally entered Congress as a moderate Republican, but her popularity skyrocketed as she became an outspoken Trump loyalist, supporting his baseless claims about election fraud. Additionally, Kevin McCarthy has expressed that the removal of Cheney was a move for unity amongst the party, though it’s evidently clear that “unity” in McCarthy’s eyes translates to loyalty under Trump. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell was uncharacteristically silent about this whole ordeal, and this silence speaks volumes for the majority of House and Senate Republicans who have pledged their loyalties to the former administration. Of course, many prominent Republicans’ involvement in the removal process can reflect upon their actions moving forward, and we can only hope that their decision-making will not be further influenced and weighed down by the values of the former administration.
This removal is telling of the future of the GOP and where they stand on former President Trump. Despite his impeachments, there is indeed a chance that prominent House Republicans will continue to back the Trump administration in the future with the former president’s aim to run again in 2024.
More than 100 Republicans, including some formerly elected officials, have threatened to split from the GOP and form a third party if the party does not make certain changes. Only time will tell if democracy will prevail from this unprecedented divide and whether millions will continue to be misled by the lies of the former administration.