Donald Trump’s Revenge Tour continues apace. Latest stop: Wyoming, as red a state as any in the Union. In fact, the reddest. Voters there gave Trump 70% of the vote in the presidential election of 2020. Strangely enough, they have not been accused by him of voter fraud.
But now, by helping to elect a primary challenger to Liz Cheney, who was running for re-election in the Wyoming Congressional seat which she had won previously with over 70% of the vote, Trump has almost completed his sweep of the Republican party. Liz, a stern critic of Trump, is former vice-president Dick Cheney’s daughter and the Cheney family are 100% Wyoming. One Republican said on TV that he cried when he voted against her.
Before Liz, Trump had dealt with George P Bush, that’s Jeb’s son, George W’s nephew. Bush lost his Texas primary for attorney general in a landslide defeat. Even though young George metaphorically kissed the ring, Trump publicly and insultingly endorsed someone else, spelling the end of Bush’s run for the nomination. It was a political earthquake.
Even after he became more or less a Trumpian, betraying his uncle’s legacy, trashing his father’s, and aligning himself with a man who has labelled Hispanics – his own mother’s ethnicity – as “rapists” and “murderers”, George P Bush still hung on in there. Trump destroyed him, despite the fact that Bush’s dad is a former Florida governor, and his uncle and grandpa were both presidents. The name of Bush means something in Texas. Or meant something.
This takedown of Republican royalty is part of Trump’s us-and-them roadshow, one that runs and runs for his millions of followers. The next part of the show will deal with the RINOS – those he calls Republicans In Name Only – in a campaign that aims to end the careers of any Republican in Congress who voted to impeach Trump.
Trump has already ended the House career of Jaime Herrera Beutler, a military veteran, who answered the call that Trump himself once evaded during the Vietnam war.
Then there are the Republican retirees who, for one reason or another, have left Congress: Peter Meijer; Tom Rice – a guy who not only campaigned for Trump twice, but voted for him twice – Fred Upton, who decided to walk away from a 30-year career because it all got to be too much; John Katko, who got the vibe that his party considered him too bi-partisan; Adam Kinzinger, from my home state of Illinois, the other Republican on the January 6 committee besides Cheney, also a military vet, and a guy who just decided that the death threats against his family were too much; and Anthony Gonzalez, who chose not to run for the same reasons as Kinzinger.
How did the GOP, the party of Abraham Lincoln, become the publicity machine for a defeated president who just won’t accept that he lost? Lincoln was the president who signed an executive order that freed my ancestors, an act that probably helped put a bullet in his head. But now the party has morphed into the champion of an America that is God-fearing, Christian and white.
The GOP has promulgated a variation of the post-war Reds Under The Bed scare, when Republicans saw “commies” everywhere. We people of colour were considered no more than three-fifths of a human being anyway, so therefore easily duped by foreign enemies. All this went into making a horror show of denunciation, of careers ending, and the erasure of human beings from the annals of theatre and film. Out of this was spawned Richard Nixon’s criminality.
And we cannot forget the man who promised a “shining city on a hill”: Ronald Reagan. Not so good an actor on screen, Reagan was Oscar-worthy in his role as president of Happy-Land. But he hid behind his affable grin the fact that members of his administration funnelled cash to Nicaraguan counter insurgents, the Contras, through arms sales to Iran, whose government America publicly opposed. And lately Reagan’s own son has apologised for the transcript of a phone call in which the sainted president used racial slurs.
Next: the 1988 presidential election in which Reagan’s vice-president, George HW Bush, continually invoked the name of a convicted African-American felon, released on furlough and who had reoffended before being recaptured. In a now notorious campaign advert, the face of this black man was flashed every time Bush’s Democratic opponent, Michael Dukakis, was named. This was maybe the first dogwhistle ad, and conjured up what Trump’s followers now openly trumpet: The Great Replacement Theory, ie that white people will be overrun and obliterated by people of colour. This is the core of the Republican party today. Racism.
Trump’s subtext, his bass note in his infernal symphony, is this: that people of colour will overrun white people. I’m not saying that Liz Cheney is overtly running to defeat racism, but she has softened some of her positions. For example, she has talked about women and girls more and about being a mother. It’s a significant change for a woman who refused to take a photo with the female House intake in 2018. That is how conservative she is.
And this is where the Republican party is: enthralled with a renegade, defeated president, a madman who encouraged a sack of the Capitol, and who wants to destroy the constitution, that’s all. Liz Cheney recognised this, explaining that her decision to impeach Trump was because the insurrection caused “death and destruction in the most sacred space in our republic.” She has never let up on this.
I’m a Democrat, so every day a Republican loses is a good day to me. But remember when people said: “An African American who gets elected twice as president? You can forget THAT!” Or “Donald Trump? The guy won’t make it out of the primaries. You need to go and lie down.” “Joe Biden? Excuse me, but what are you drinking?”
The Republicans detest her. She is no Democrat. And third parties are a fever dream in America. But women across the spectrum are taking a look at her, so all I can say is this – Elizabeth Lynne Cheney is not done yet.