Bush Republicanism, that zombie political persuasion which in its heyday did for the GOP and the conservative movement what Jimmy Carter and Mike Dukakis did for the Democrats, might not quite be dead. But rigor mortis set in several years ago to be sure.
Just ask Liz Cheney, whose political career was zombified in January 2021 when she opted to not just turn on Donald Trump in a public fashion — Cheney was always a Never Trumper; she just didn’t out herself as one until she thought the coast was clear — but to harp on the question.
Cheney voted for the idiotic post-presidential impeachment of Trump. Then she volunteered to serve on the disgraceful kangaroo court that is the Jan. 6 Committee, perhaps the most counterproductive political fiasco since Monsieur Robespierre felt the guillotine’s blade.
The rumblings within the GOP have gotten louder and louder since — especially as Trump-backed challengers have knocked off one impeachment voter after another, and the MAGA/revivalist wing of the party has laid waste to the Bush Republican crowd up and down the GOP ballot this year.
And Tuesday, the voters of Wyoming delivered to Cheney a metaphorical echo of what befell Robespierre. Harriet Hageman, a lawyer who’s made a name for herself going to war against the EPA and environmentalist wacko groups over a three-decade career and who ran unsuccessfully for governor in 2018, clobbered the most prominent Never Trumper in elected office by a 65-31 percent margin, with almost 60 percent of votes counted at time of publication.
The size of that beatdown is a big deal. One Wyoming voter summed up the reason why quite nicely:
Outside an early voting site in Jackson, Wyoming, on Monday, Horton Spitzer — a retired rancher and staunch Trump supporter — after voting for Hageman, said he believes Cheney’s political career is over.
“There’s a visceral hatred. And this is gonna drive people to the polls. The code of the West says ride for the brand. If you don’t you then take your saddle, take your cowdog, walk into the sunset and never come back,” he said.
Mr. Spitzer is correct — and incorrect.
He’s incorrect that Liz Cheney’s political career is over. It isn’t. She’s certainly through winning elections; that’s undeniable. But the chances are outstanding that she’ll declare herself the Joan of Arc of the conservative movement, proudly display all the martyrdom that the legacy corporate media and the pundits of the Never-Trumper stripe can festoon her with, and launch a primary campaign for president in 2024.
That the Democrats’ legacy media organs will participate in the 2024 grift is already set in stone. As Cheney was getting a 2-to-1 repudiation by her own constituents, NPR was splashing one of the dumbest headlines in its history across its webpage: “Liz Cheney just lost her House seat, but her fight against Trump continues.”
That’s the reality-free matrix in which the Left and their Never-Trumper pets reside. And there is no penetrating it – at least not anytime soon.
Go talk to your Democrat friends, and they’ll tell you Liz is the real dark horse in 2024. It’s hilarious, but in the delusional reality in which they live, once Trump is indicted by the thoroughly honest Merrick Garland Justice Department, the GOP faithful will abandon him and the “fever” will break, and the party will come back to its senses. And choose Liz Cheney as a modern-day John McCain.
They believe this. Their pundits have been pushing it, quietly, and once the pain of Tuesday’s annihilation wears off they’ll push it with more volume.
Of course, it’s a grift. Everything about Liz Cheney has been a grift since the 2020 election. And the next phase of her political career will be the same grift that Evan “Egg McMuffin” McMullin has been running. It’s a Bialystock & Bloom production; a play designed to fail. But it’s an easy fleece against the donors dumb enough to have bought Karl Rove’s act for as long as they did. And she’ll run that game for as long as the suckers and marks will foot the bill come 2023, making sure to pocket some of the campaign swag before closing up shop well in advance of Iowa and New Hampshire.
After that comes a regular gig on MSNBC and CNN while working some cush, ruling-class job for some K Street firm. Probably on behalf of the ChiComs, like so many of these other washed-up pols have done.
But Mr. Spitzer isn’t wrong on the meat of his statement, and this is something MAGA/Revivalist America has long since figured out and isn’t pleased by.
Which is that the rank-and-file voters in the GOP, who keep rising up in wave after populist conservative wave — it started with the Reagan revolution, then it came again with Newt Gingrich’s 1994 congressional uprising, then it was the Tea Party, and then it was Trump’s election in 2015–16 — are continuously told we’ve got to “ride for the brand” when the brand is clearly not what we signed up for. It’s the Bush Republicans who keep benefiting from the energy of the populist base to derive power, and every chance they get to wield it they squander on stupid policies and political mistakes.
Reagan begat George H. W. Bush. Gingrich’s 1994 House takeover begat Denny Hastert and George W. Bush. The Tea Party begat Mitt Romney, for crying out loud.
And yet we’re told we have to be loyal to these people while they give away our cultural patrimony to the woke Left; they pour our finest young citizens into the meat-grinder of endless, pointless Third World wars with no discernible American interest to be furthered; and they waste away our economic might on horrendous globalist trade policies, which suspiciously seem to generate a flow of Chinese cash into the pockets of our ruling elite while our working class is squeezed and slowly choked out of opportunities for social mobility.
But when Trump’s victory came in 2016, did the Never-Trump/Bush Republican crowd ride for the brand? Hell, no.
Every one of their politicians promised to repeal Obamacare. When the time came, did that happen? Nah.
Did any one of the NeverTrump gang defend the president from the clearly fraudulent attempted coup d’état that was the Russia hoax? Nah.
Did they get in line behind him when it was clear the Democrats would go absolutely scorched-earth to ruin him? Nah.
Did they oppose the clearly illegal assault on election integrity in so many states in advance of the 2020 election? Nah.
Then in the aftermath of it, when the base voters of the GOP expressed our outrage at what the Left had made of our most cherished national institutions, Liz Cheney and some of the other more obnoxious Never Trumpers, like the Bill Cassidys of the world, fully showed their colors and abandoned him.
The narrative they’re pushing now is almost too cute to believe. Erick Erickson wrote at Substack on Tuesday, for example, that the Left and the Democrats are keeping Trump’s political star in the sky with abuses like the Mar-a-Lago raid. Erickson pointed to polling showing a decreasing number of Republicans in polls who favored Trump as the nominee in 2024 … until Mar-a-Lago.
Essentially, their opposition to Mar-a-Lago is that by antagonizing the base GOP voter, Trump becomes relevant again when he otherwise would fade away.
And allow for the rehabilitation of the “principled conservative” Never Trumpers who’ll surely ride back in on their own poisoned brand.
Well, Tuesday night we saw just how delusional that is.
Those Republican voters who have gone soft on the idea of Trump as the nominee in 2024? They aren’t interested in the Liz Cheneys or Mike Pences of the world. The vast majority of them would go to Ron DeSantis if Trump weren’t the nominee. But DeSantis only runs if Trump doesn’t — which means most of the folks telling pollsters they’d look at somebody else are very much still Trump voters. DeSantis voters are Trump voters, regardless of how hard the ruling elite wants to drive that wedge.
This column has written that we need both Trump and DeSantis. Because what’s required is a broad and deep political movement that’s able to elect a long string of leaders all the way up the chain of political offices, from city councils to the White House. That movement is what will protect base Republican voters from having to support the Liz Cheneys as a last resort against Democrat control.
We already know they’re ineffective at stopping the Democrats. Tuesday proved they’re ineffective at stopping the MAGA/revivalist movement which is just cranking back up.
Bye, Liz. We’ll see you in the funny papers.