So on February 6th, 2021, the Wyoming GOP censured Representative Liz Cheney for her vote to impeach President Donald J. Trump.
Here’s my hot take: No big deal, let’s move on.
Eleven county GOP parties had already censured Cheney, with five more scheduled to get theirs done after the meeting on February 6th. In other words, the censure was inevitable. If you can get 12 county delegations to support any measure at the state level, it will be adopted by the state central committee.
The censure isn’t going to change Wyoming politics one bit. There are already significant fault lines between the Wyoming GOP’s majority conservative and vocal minority liberal wings.
As a recap, if you recall the 2020 election, you may have encountered the Frontier Republicans, a PAC set up to promote liberals. I’ve covered in detail noting how little Frontier Republicans support the Wyoming GOP and how Frontier Republicans, like many liberals, say one thing but are really after another.
Joe McGinley, chairman of the Natrona County GOP, Frontier Republican cause celeb, and censured GOP chairman, is a one-trick pony. During the censure discussion, he rhetorically stamped his feet, braying at the party to stop being meanies. A few of his Frontier Republican allies from Jackson and other far-flung liberal realms joined in with the bleating.
The argument of McGinley and his flock, or in truth the lack thereof, failed.
What liberals like McGinley and his comrades in the Frontier Republicans refuse to acknowledge or more likely, can’t understand, is that the censure vote is about accountability. It is the fundamental basis of the Wyoming conservative movement.
If you agree with Rep. Cheney’s decision to impeach President Trump or not, you must acknowledge that most Wyomingites do not support the decision. Don’t believe me? Ask the next ten random politically aware people you encounter if they endorsed the impeachment vote. Six to eight of those people will say ‘No.’
The censure is the voice of the populist and conservative people of the Wyoming GOP, and really of Wyoming. It says we disagree with that decision, it was an awful thing to do. It admonishes Rep. Cheney for that action.
The censure vote is similar to getting a penalty in hockey. The movie Slapshot has a great scene where the team’s French-Canadian goalie describes getting a penalty. He says, “You do that. You go to the box, you know. Two-minutes by yourself, and you feel shame, you know, and then you get free.” Liz Cheney is in the penalty box, serving her two minutes.
So, big deal, let’s move on.
The critical question is, do we want Rep. Cheney back on the team in two years?
Donald Trump, love him or hate him, was not the national media’s caricature. I didn’t much care for his lack of manners, his brusque nature, or his slapdash approach to severe problems. That said, I supported much of what his administration got done. His judge selections were superb; he held back the war on coal, oil, and gas. Since Reagan, he was the first President to stand up for Wyoming’s industries and, therefore, Wyoming’s people. Wyomingites are an independent sort, and many admire his thick skin, toughness, and devil be damned approach to doing what was right for the United States and Wyoming.
Trump’s speech to the crowd on January 6th was fiery and brash, but it didn’t insight the violence. That makes Rep. Cheney’s decision all the more troubling. People ask if Rep. Cheney has become a “swamp creature” or, in friendly parlance an ambitious, ladder-climbing DC functionary, putting her interests ahead of Wyoming.
I hope that Rep. Cheney’s impeachment vote was a stand on her principles. If it was, I’m proud to have her as Wyoming’s representative in Congress. Don’t get me wrong; her transgression should cost her job. But at least I know she’s doing what she thinks is right and proper and is willing to lose her job over it. I’ve always said I would prefer a principled statesman I can’t entirely agree with over cowardly political hacks who say they agree with me but, in truth, do not.
In discussion with a long time supporter of the Wyoming conservative movement, he made this observation, “What galled me most was her lecture to all of us about fidelity to the Constitution when rejecting elector challenges. Then days later, ignoring the Constitution when voting to impeach.”
He continued, “From beginning to end, the impeachment proceedings took five hours. For her: rely on the Constitution when it suits, chuck it aside when it doesn’t, and that’s unforgivable.”
For many in the conservative movement, the Wyoming GOP leadership comprises the best thinkers and most courageous and principled constitutionalists of any state party in the country. I don’t think it helps Rep. Cheney to lecture the Wyoming GOP and Wyoming’s citizens on the Constitution. The Consitution should be something she finds common ground with the Wyoming GOP.
Additionally, her absence from Saturday’s meeting indicates that she doesn’t care for the Wyoming GOP and, by extension, Wyoming’s people. If she would only take the time to work with them, rather than against them. It would go a long way towards showing she cares about Wyoming more than DC.
It’s early times yet, and, so far, the candidates mentioned to run against Liz Cheney don’t thrill me. Of the sitting legislators mentioned or having announced a run, they are mostly from the big cities where the conservative movement is weakest. We need them to stay in their seats and help build a conservative majority in the legislature. Already this year’s analysis of the legislature isn’t looking as conservative as I’d like. The model needs more data, but the troubling liberal trend is still present.
We conservatives need to decide on ONE candidate to run against Rep. Cheney. As proof, two years ago, conservatives fielded no fewer than three Republican candidates for governor. In the primary, 60% of Republicans voted against Mark Gordon, yet he got the victory. Wyoming has been paying a cost for Mark Gordon’s election. He is ill-suited to leading a conservative state. You can look no further than the mask orders as proof. We need more Kristi Noem and less Matt Mead.
For Wyoming’s seat in the House of Representatives, we need a relatively fresh conservative face, a successful citizen from outside politics to run against Ms. Cheney. That individual would be a blessing for our state.
I only hope we conservatives can agree on one single candidate. Conservative Wyomingites are an independent lot. It will take lots of work to get them all to agree with one Republican candidate. It will be worth it in the end.
But don’t put the cart before the horse.
We still need to find a unique, standout Wyoming citizen to answer the call.