Profile in Courage; Profiles in Cowardice

Published: May 6, 2021

By Jim Lichtman
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“In a democracy, every citizen, regardless of his interest in politics, ‘holds office’; every one of us is in a position of responsibility; and, in the final analysis, the kind of government we get depends upon how we fulfill those responsibilities. We, the people, are the boss, and we will get the kind of political leadership, be it good or bad, that we demand and deserve.” — Senator John F. Kennedy, Profiles in Courage

Right now, there is only one Republican in Congress standing up for American Democracy. Wyoming Representative Liz Cheney is that one. With the notable exception of Adam Kinzinger from Illinois, no other Republican is willing to publicly stand with her.

On Twitter, Kinzinger wrote, “Country First stands with Liz Cheney! The GOP needs good, fearless, principled leaders like her – who refuse to feed THE BIG LIE – more than ever. Now! @HouseGOP seeks to throw her out of leadership simply for doing the right thing. Sign the petition!”

The contrast between politicians who stand on principle and those who stand on self-interest could not be starker at this moment. With a controlling, immoral, demagogic former president, there is only one motivation in the Trump playbook: whatever works for Trump; his ego, his brand, his lies. And he is willing to punish anyone who confronts those lies.

Any Senate or House Republican who does not stand up with and for Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger; any Republican who remains silent about the truth is complicit in helping degrade American democracy.

It’s no secret that for weeks and months before and after the election, Cheney has been outspoken about Trump and his constancy in pushing the “Big Lie” that massive fraud resulted in him losing the election.

Trump’s final speech on the White House ellipse led a mob of supporters to attack the Capitol building “because they’d been fed wild falsehoods by the most powerful man on Earth because he was angry he lost an election.” Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell said that after he voted not to impeach Trump because of the president’s words. I can’t think of a better example of a charlatan.

With Republican leadership on the verge of voting her out as House Republican Conference Chair, Cheney, in a blistering opinion in the Washington Post, says what many other Republicans know to be true but are too spineless to publicly admit.

“Donald Trump has repeated his claims that the 2020 election was a fraud and was stolen,” Cheney writes. “His message: I am still the rightful president, and President Biden is illegitimate.

“Trump repeats these words now with full knowledge that exactly this type of language provoked violence on Jan. 6. And, as the Justice Department and multiple federal judges have suggested, there is good reason to believe that Trump’s language can provoke violence again. Trump is seeking to unravel critical elements of our constitutional structure that make democracy work — confidence in the result of elections and the rule of law. No other American president has ever done this.”

And Cheney doesn’t shy away from pointing out the hypocrisy of other Trump Republicans.

“House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy (Calif.),” Cheney said, “left no doubt in his public remarks. On the floor of the House on Jan. 13, McCarthy said: ‘The president bears responsibility for Wednesday’s attack on Congress by mob rioters. He should have immediately denounced the mob when he saw what was unfolding.’ Now, McCarthy has changed his story.

“While embracing or ignoring Trump’s statements might seem attractive to some for fundraising and political purposes, that approach will do profound long-term damage to our party and our country. Trump has never expressed remorse or regret for the attack of Jan. 6 and now suggests that our elections, and our legal and constitutional system, cannot be trusted to do the will of the people. …

“The question before us now,” Cheney spells out, “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.”

“We must be brave enough to defend the basic principles that underpin and protect our freedom and our democratic process,” Cheney urged her colleagues. “I am committed to doing that, no matter what the short-term political consequences might be.”

My question for Republican voters: If Republicans in Congress are willing to lie about the 2020 election, what else are they willing to lie about, and how can you trust that they will work on your behalf?

In Profiles in Courage, Senator John F. Kennedy wrote “The true democracy, living and growing and inspiring, puts its faith in the people – faith that the people will not simply elect men [and women] who will represent their views ably and faithfully, but also elect men [and women] who will exercise their conscientious judgment – faith that the people will not condemn those whose devotion to principle leads them to unpopular courses, but will reward courage, respect honor and ultimately recognize right.”

Liz Cheney is the conscience, courage, and commitment we need right now.


  1. Thanks Jim and Liz Cheney!
    Yes, we “will reward courage, respect honor and ultimately recognize right.”

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