What Makes a Leader?

Published: April 12, 2022

By Jim Lichtman
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“A leader is one who knows the way, goes the way and shows the way.” — John Maxwell, American clergyman

Liz Cheney is smart, disciplined, honest and fearless. A rock-sold Republican from Wyoming, Cheney is one of only two House Republicans who sit on the House panel investigating the January 6 insurrection. Adam Kinzinger is the other.

However, it is Cheney who frequently speaks publicly about the lies Trump and his allies continue to shout from Capitol Hill to the campaign trail. It is Cheney who presents the truth clearly and competently. Underline competent.

“The Republican Party is at a turning point,” Cheney wrote in May of 2021, “and Republicans must decide whether we are going to choose truth and fidelity to the Constitution. . . . The question before us now is whether we will join Trump’s crusade to delegitimize and undo the legal outcome of the 2020 election, with all the consequences that might have.”

For the principle-based Cheney, consequences for her committee work are in the hands of Wyoming voters in November—most of whom are die hard Trump supporters. Nonetheless, Cheney fervently believes in accountability no matter the party.

We have learned that President [Donald] Trump and his team were warned, in advance and repeatedly, that the efforts they undertook to overturn the 2020 election would violate the law and our Constitution.”

On last Sunday’s CNN’s State of the Union, Cheney continues to show us that principle comes before politics.

“It’s absolutely clear that what President Trump was doing, what a number of people around him were doing — that they knew it was unlawful.” Cheney added: “They did it anyway. I think you certainly saw that in the decision that was issued by Judge [David O.] Carter a few weeks ago, where he concluded that it was more likely than not that the president of the United States was engaged in criminal activity.”

And despite Republican censure, Cheney stands behind the committee’s work.

“The committee is working in a really collaborative way to discuss these issues, as we are with all of the issues we’re addressing. I think that it is the single most collaborative committee on which I have ever served.”

Post columnist Jennifer Rubin points out, “Republicans . . . keep characterizing this as a Democratic witch hunt. It behooves the media and Democrats, as Cheney has done, to remind Americans that the evidence is coming from Republicans, including Trump family members.”

After Trump’s daughter, Ivanka, testified before the committee, Cheney said, “I’ve been incredibly grateful and, frankly, moved by the many, many people who have come before us because they know it’s their patriotic responsibility and duty to tell us about what happened and to make sure that it never happens again.”

“History is watching,” Cheney wrote last year. “Our children are watching. We must be brave enough to defend the basic principles that underpin and protect our freedom and our democratic process. I am committed to doing that, no matter what the short-term political consequences might be.”

While most of her Republican colleagues are running off the cliffs of insanity, Cheney is a North Star of determination, decency and democracy.

Liz Cheney is showing the way for Republicans. Now, let’s see if they take it.

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