In perhaps the least surprising electoral result we’ll see this year, Congresswoman Liz Cheney lost to her Trump-backed opponent in the Wyoming primary last night. Harriet Hageman absolutely monstered Cheney in the end — beating her by some thirty percentage points, ten more than most experts predicted.
Cheney knew long ago she was going to lose. She had become a pin-up for that strange and stubborn alliance of Bush-era Republicans and the pro-Democratic US media; another darling of the old NeverTrump front. These darlings don’t win Republican primaries.
It is unfair to cast Cheney as a classic NeverTrumpist, of course: she voted with Trump 93 percent of the time, as many have pointed out. She voted against impeaching him in 2019. It was only after the terrible scenes of January 6, the storming of the Capitol, that she decided Trump had to be removed from Republican politics. She has now dedicated — even sacrificed — her political career to that end. The New York Times calls it a “martyrdom.” Hmmm.
In fact, endless “courage” profiles have been published about Liz Cheney — stressing her fundamental conservatism, her decency, her eagerness to save America. To most voters, left or right, it all feels a little phony.
The truth is, to most working or even middle-class Republican supporters today, just the name Cheney is enough to make the blood boil. It brings to mind the disastrous Iraq War and the financial crisis, the time before Trump disrupted American politics. She is the old guard. Now, she is gone.
With her last name, Cheney could never hope to win by standing against Trump in the Trump-dominated Republican party of Wyoming in 2022. In a way, Liz is an American mirror image of France’s Marine Le Pen: Cheney’s father, the infamous Dick, George W. Bush’s vice president, casts a toxic legacy over her political career. She is as off-putting to Trump’s new right-wingers as Le Pen is to old French conservatives.
The trouble for Cheney was not just daddy issues. It was that, as vice chair of the January 6 hearings, and as the loudest anti-Trump Republican voice of recent months, she was cheered by all the people Trump voters most despise. Wyoming is a very conservative state and the Trump base there is strong — as it still is in almost all of rural America, even in blue Democratic states. Wyoming conservatives heard all the talking heads in Washington, DC talking about her “defending the constitution” and “upholding the rule of law,” but what they saw in the January 6 hearings was an obviously partisan (and probably self-defeating) attempt to banish Trump from public life altogether.
Perhaps the NeverTrump dream will one day come true — and the party will snap out of its feverish devotion to the Donald, come to its senses and restore all those “norms.” Not any time soon, however.
This article was originally published on The Spectator’s UK website.