In the words of Rep. Liz Cheney, the party of Lincoln, Eisenhower and Reagan is at a “turning point.”
Unfortunately for the Wyoming congresswoman, the Republican Party’s House leadership is ready to take its next turn without her.
In a vote cementing former President Donald Trump’s influence over a party he led to defeat in November, House Republicans on Wednesday are expected to oust Ms. Cheney from her post as conference chair, the GOP’s third-highest leadership position in the chamber. Ms. Cheney is being punished for repeatedly and publicly condemning Mr. Trump’s bogus claim that the 2020 election was stolen.
The rejection of Ms. Cheney, a bona fide conservative and daughter of a former Republican vice president, to appease Mr. Trump and his base is another indication that Trumpism now dominates the party. Trump loyalists, whether they fear his wrath or simply believe, as he does, that the election was stolen, are brooking no dissent.
In the latest episode of the History As It Happens podcast, National Review editor Rich Lowry discussed whether blind allegiance to Mr. Trump is endangering the conservative movement’s goals.
“The deeper problem is Trump’s conspiratorial thinking about the election has either been absorbed and accepted by much of the party, and/or the rest of the party that doesn’t actually believe it, feels as though they have to go along. That is a problem… You want a party that is tethered to reality,” said Mr. Lowry, who faults Mr. Trump for helping Republicans lose both Senate seats in Georgia and thereby handing full control of Congress to the Democrats.
In January 2016, Mr. Lowry, who succeeded conservative icon William F. Buckley as the magazine’s top editor, called on conservatives to reject Mr. Trump before that year’s first primary elections were held.
“Trump is a philosophically unmoored political opportunist who would trash the broad conservative ideological consensus within the GOP in favor of a free-floating populism with strong-man overtones,” the National Review editorial said.
After watching Mr. Trump in the White House, Mr. Lowry credits him for supporting certain conservative policies, such as tax cuts and deregulation, and for standing up to China’s trade practices. But after the November election defeat and Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol, the conservative editor believes the Republican Party needs to move on without the former president, not necessarily without his more popular policies.
“We believe there should be no tension between truthfulness and conservatism. Conservatism is grounded in reality,” Mr Lowry said.
For more of Mr. Lowry’s thoughts on the origins of the conservative movement and whether it can coexist with Trumpism, listen to this episode of History As It Happens.