Liz Cheney, Conscience of the House

Published: July 20, 2022

By Jim Lichtman
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Ever since Wyoming Republican Representative Liz Cheney voted for Trump’s impeachment as a result of the January 6 attack on the Capitol a very vocal base of Trump supporters back home have turned on her.

Cody resident Bob Ferguson sums up what most feel.

“She hasn’t just turned on Donald Trump — she has turned on Donald Trump’s supporters. … She has insulted constituents in a very conservative state, called us insurrectionists. Nothing could be further from the truth,” The Washington Post reports.

Paul Lanchbury, another Cody local, said “She’s a puppet,” he practically spits.

“The reason why people live here is so we don’t have to be told how to live, how to believe,” David Iverson said. “When you have a representative who’s saying, ‘President Trump is a bad person, President Trump started this riot, President Trump needs to be impeached’ … you’re telling people what they are to believe.”

It’s safe to say that Wyoming won’t be naming any government buildings after Cheney any time soon. But they should if they believe in the Constitution.

“Cheney circulated a 21-page white paper highlighting the judicial decisions striking down fraud claims by Trump’s allies, and describing why the Constitution doesn’t allow Congress or the vice president to overrule certified state electoral votes.”

Doesn’t’ make a spit of difference to Trump hardliners.

Cheney is, perhaps, the most deeply conservative member of the House, a Republican pro in every sense of the word: pro-gun, pro-life, pro-fossil fuels, pro-defense spending, pro-tax cuts. She voted with Trump 93 percent of the time! Now, however, as vice-chair of the House committee’s investigation of the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, Cheney is Pariah Number One in her home state.

During one of the committee’s hearings, Cheney said, “No rational or sane man in his position could disregard [election] information and reach the opposite conclusion. And Donald Trump cannot escape responsibility by being willfully blind.”

Wyoming is the least populist state in the union, but the fiercest pro-Trump state.

Notwithstanding a likely “no vote” in the upcoming primary, Liz Cheney is one of those rare political figures in American history who not only stands by the Constitution but places her conscience before her party.

In the 60s, Michigan Senator and Democrat Philip Hart took a similar stand.

“As a novice political candidate in 1950,” biographer Michael O’Brien writes, “Hart did not interact well with strangers, was reluctant to ask people to vote for him, and sometimes even apologized for running for office. He was elected to the Senate in 1958 and served there until his death from cancer in 1976.

“Hart was known as an author and sponsor of important legislation in the areas of civil rights (he was a leader in the fight for the 1956 Voting Rights Act), antitrust enforcement, and consumer and environmental protection. But most unusual, then and today,” O’Brien says, “Hart frequently took difficult, courageous stands on issues directly against his own political self-interest.

“In late 1968, for example, a staff aide on the Senate Antitrust and Monopoly Subcommittee, which Hart chaired, proposed that the subcommittee investigate the automobile industry.” As recounted in O’Brien’s book, “Hart met the aide, Donald Randall, in the hallway:

“‘Don, I understand you’re recommending we go into investigation of the automobile business,’ Hart observed.

“‘Yes, sir,’ said Randall.

“‘Do you know that I’m running for re-election next year?’

“‘Yes, sir.’

“‘Do you know I’m from Michigan?’

“‘Yes, sir.’

“‘You know that the biggest business in my state is the auto industry, don’t you?’

“‘Yes, sir.’

“‘And do you know that if I lose, you lose?’

“‘Yes, sir.’

“‘Do you still want to do it?’ Hart asked.

“‘Yes, sir,’ Randall replied.

“‘Well,’ Hart said, ‘go do it.’

“For more than a year, Hart’s subcommittee held hearings on abuses in the automobile-repair business. Hundreds of angry car owners, frustrated mechanics, and auto-industry experts testified about the rampant incompetence and exploding costs in the multi-billion-dollar business.

“One of the outcomes of Hart’s hearings was the 1970 Motor Vehicle Information and Cost Savings Act, which mandated fragility standards for assembling automobiles. Motor Trend magazine said, ‘Senator Hart is a man of courage. To attack a problem as large and politically explosive as automobile repair, especially for a Senator from Michigan, the home of the auto industry, is no small undertaking.’”

Cheney’s colleagues should take a short walk down to the Senate office building, read the inscription carved in marble and re-acquaint themselves with its message.

This building is dedicated by his colleagues to the memory of Philip A. Hart with affection, respect, and esteem. A man of incorruptible integrity and personal courage strengthened by inner grace and outer gentleness, he elevated politics to a level of purity that will forever be an example to every elected official. He advanced the cause of human justice, promoted the welfare of the common man, and improved the quality of life. His humility and ethics earned him his place as the conscience of the Senate.’”

Harper Lee’s observation in To Kill a Mockingbird is more relevant than ever. “The one thing that doesn’t abide by majority rule is a person’s conscience.”


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