It took Donald Trump to make a Cheney, any Cheney, a “RINO.”
Liz Cheney is at least as conservative as her father, especially on domestic issues, and she’s far more conservative than Donald Trump. Yet, because she’s failed to fall in line behind Trump, she’s been “censured” by the GOP and told she’s no longer a Republican. At best, she’s a “RINO” in MAGA parlance.
But Wyoming isn’t a typical state. For one, it’s the state with the least amount of people. It is not a stretch to say that it is likely that Liz Cheney has at least shaken hands or spoken to/with one-third of the citizens of the state. Second, states like Wyoming have long memories and know that its reliance upon the extraction industries (coal, primarily) requires an experienced hand and not a Lauren Boebert clone. It is possible that they smell a rat being thrown at them in the name of Trump unity.
Or at least that’s one theory according to Dr. Joe McGinley, a Casper physician who formerly chaired his county’s GOP and is a Republican Party state committeeman. McGinley voted against a recent motion to kick Cheney out of the GOP as if such a thing is possible.
CNN broadcasted a particularly enlightening interview with McGinley, who said:
I was there at the meeting and I was just surprised this topic came up again,” he explained. “As you recall, the state central committee voted to censure Cheney several months ago, they got it out of their system, shook their fists at Rep. Cheney. I thought that was a finished topic at that point. However, the state party’s, the leadership is somewhat irrelevant at this point and felt the need to bring the topic back up, to my surprise.”
Nothing threatens a political organization more, even a top committee, than feeling irrelevant. If Wyoming Republican leadership is feeling irrelevant, perhaps it is because their latest cause, running Cheney out of the party, is rendering it so.
“This is even crazy, I mean, you can’t tell someone that they’re not a Republican. If they register as a Republican and say they’re a Republican, then they’re a Republican,”
One doesn’t live in a state with more goats than people if they like being told what to do, and McGinley wasn’t done:
“The extremism we are currently witnessing in the WRP is the result of apathy. True Wyoming Republicans are currently sitting on the sidelines, too disgusted and embarrassed to participate,”
“You know, without using a catch phrase, there is a real silent majority here in Wyoming and they’re true conservatives. They believe in ethics and morals, they believe in humility.”
For anyone who grew up in the mountain west, the next portion rings especially true:
“They don’t want to come up and express their opinion to everyone, they go to the polls, that’s where they express their opinion.
They also don’t want to be harassed. There’s actually a lot of anger and and there’s a lot of extremists — even within our own party — that, if you express an opinion that differs from theirs, they’re going to try to embarrass you, harass you. They’re going to harass you on social media. You might even get censured by the state party for speaking out
The situation described isn’t likely confined to Wyoming. It is not hard to imagine a country in which Republicans everywhere are on the sidelines, too disgusted and embarrassed to participate.
This can cut one of two ways for Democrats. We can call one the “McConnell way,” the other, the “Trump way.” As we approach 2022 – a year in which the MAGAs must take control of the House and Senate (and would, if the election was held today), the GOP has to decide whether it wants to nominate the McConnell-type of candidates, those that wouldn’t embarrass someone at a dinner party. Or a Trump-type, a candidate that would ruin dinner by bringing her AR-15.
Liz Cheney might be embarrassingly conservative, but one could enjoy dinner with her and not be embarrassed.
Wyoming seems to be facing this existential crisis earlier than most because Liz Cheney staked out her position earlier than most, the earliest of all. She was done with the MAGA movement long before the afternoon of January 6th. Unlike her weak colleagues, Cheney held her ground. She isn’t the least bit “less conservative” than she was when nominated to the House, nor is she a “RINO.”
She does maintain complete independence from the MAGA movement. More often than not, Wyoming rewards independence, someone who doesn’t need a crowd to do their job. We will see if the model holds throughout the country. But Wyoming might be a little laboratory in Big Sky country for the rest of the Republican party.
Jason Miciak is a political writer, features writer, author, and attorney. He is originally from Canada but grew up in the Pacific Northwest as a dual Canadian-American citizen, which he grows increasingly thankful for every day. He now enjoys life as a single dad, writing from the beaches of the Gulf Coast, getting advice from his beloved daughter and teammate. He is very much the dreamy mystic that cannot add and loves dogs more than most people. He also likes studying cooking, theoretical physics, cosmology, and quantum mechanics. He likes pizza.
Please visit his Substack Newsletter, get the first month free: Much Ado About Everything: By Jason Miciak