Indulge me once more while I invoke the name of Nate Champion to make a point about political life in Wyoming.
You remember Champion as that brave young cowboy who single handedly held off the invasion of Texas gunslingers. The Republican power structure of Wyoming hired them to clear Johnson County of sodbusters and small ranchers in order to make the range safe for their friends in the Wyoming Stock Growers Association.
Champion gave his life in the effort, providing time for the citizens of Johnson County to surround the invaders and to “Stop The Steal” in real terms. With his selfless act of lonely resistance, Champion said loudly and clearly, “This is as far as you sonsabitches go.”
Nowadays, Representative Liz Cheney has inherited Nate Champion’s role as a cowboy standing in the breach, halting the advance of invaders whose orthodoxy is that of political road rage fueled by the toxicity of Trumpism.
Cheney, in her role as co-chair of the Congressional committee investigating the events of January 6th, is planting her feet and saying to the MAGA rabble, “This is as far as you sonsabitches go”.
She is paying a hefty political price for this courage.
But if our republic and its democratic institutions are able to avoid a slide into drab, gray despotism, then it will be, in large part, because of her efforts.
Make no mistake, I seldom agree with Cheney on matters of national policy. A couple of elections ago, I challenged her for her seat because of those stark differences. I suffered a political ass-kickin’ of epic proportions as a consequence.
But those differences are immaterial when contrasted with our mutual love for our country. So its easy for me to applaud her work as Wyoming’s lone representative in the House as she defends the rule of law against a deluded mob bent on tyranny.
I gotta believe that Nate Champion is looking down from Cowboy Heaven and applauding her as well.
Lets tally up what this principled stand against Trumpism has cost Cheney. She lost her leadership role in the House GOP Conference due to the ire of “conservatives” within her own party when she voted to impeach Trump.
Several Wyoming GOP county organizations have said that she is no longer a Republican. This is laughable, but is good for a few headlines.
Trump, with the complicity of the Wyoming Republican Party leadership, has hand picked Harriet Hageman to run against Cheney next year.
The Republican Party dumped all of this vituperation on the head of one of their own, who by the way voted with Trump about 95% of the time when he was in office. It was only when Trump tried to thwart the 2020 election, and violated his own oath of office, that Cheney made her stand and drove the MAGA wing of the GOP into apoplexy.
It has become a parlor game among political pundits in Wyoming to try to predict Cheney’s political future. Their guesses are all over the map. Many postulate that, like Nate Champion, she has inflicted upon herself fatal political wounds by her courage.
Some opine that Cheney is arranging the chess pieces to make a run for president in 2024.
This all seems a tad premature, since Cheney hasn’t signaled her intentions to run for any office. She likely feels that there is time enough for that, once our democratic republic and its institutions have been preserved from Trump’s attack.
For my money, if Liz Cheney has a long political career lasting a couple of more decades in whichever office she chooses, she is doing – today – the political heavy lifting that Providence called her to do. This is her finest hour, and we in Wyoming should appreciate and honor her courage.
I’ll save room in my yard for one of her signs, if she decides to seek office again. It should read, “Liz Cheney for Whatever. This is as far as you sonsabitches go”