Do Democrats have the courage of Liz Cheney?
A few months ago, I was fortunate enough to have a long conversation with Representative Liz Cheney from Wyoming. While we disagreed on many political issues, I could not have been more impressed by his unwavering argument that Donald Trump posed an unprecedented threat to American democracy. I was also struck by his commitment to risk re-election, all the issues he cares about, and even the physical injuries, not only to vote for Trump’s impeachment, but also to help lead the House investigation. on the January 6 insurrection.
At the end of our conversation, however, I could only shake my head and ask: Liz, how could there be only one of you?
She could only shake her head back.
After all, a recent avalanche of reporting and books leaves no doubt that Trump was attempting to enlist his Vice President, Justice Department and flexible Republican state lawmakers in a coup to stay. in the White House on the basis of fabricated facts. allegations of electoral fraud.
Almost the entire GOP caucus (with the exception of Cheney and Rep. Adam Kinzinger, who is also risking everything to join the Jan.6 probe, and a few other Republicans who defied Trump during the impeachment) have shamelessly bowed to Trump’s will or decided to do so quietly. withdraw.
They are all complicit in the greatest political sin imaginable: destroying faith in our nation’s most sacred process, the peaceful and legitimate transfer of power through free and fair elections. Looking at how Trump and his cult are now laying the groundwork – with new laws, fake audits, allegations of fraud, and the installation of more flexible state election officials to secure victory in 2024, regardless of the tally – there is no doubt that the 245-year experience in democracy is in jeopardy.
Our next presidential election may well be the last as a shining example of democracy.
Just listen to Cheney. Speaking to her fellow Republicans in “60 minutes” on Sunday, she noted that when they encouraged Trump’s delegitimization in the last election, “in the face of court decisions, in the face of recounts, in the face of whatever has happened. spent demonstrating that there was no fraudâ¦ we are helping to undermine our system. And it’s a really serious and dangerous time because of it.
It’s code red. And that brings me to the Democrats in Congress.
I only have one question for them: Are you willing to risk much less than Liz Cheney to do what is necessary right now – on your side – to save our democracy?
Because, when a party in our two-party system goes completely rogue, it’s up to the other party to act. Democrats need to do three things at the same time: advance their agenda, protect the integrity of our election, and prevent this unscrupulous version of the Trump-cult GOP from gaining national power again.
It is a tall order and a totally unfair burden in many ways. But if Cheney is willing to risk everything to stop Trump, then Democrats – both moderate and progressive – must stand up at this time and forge the necessary majorities in the Senate and House to pass the bipartisan infrastructure bill. (now slated for a Thursday vote in the House), a voting rights bill and much of the Build Back Better legislation that moderates and progressives can agree on.
If Democrats instead form a circular firing squad, and those three major bills are scattered to the winds and the Biden presidency plummets – and Trump’s Republicans take over the House and Senate and propel Trump in the White House – there won’t be a chance later. Later it will be too late for the country as we know it.
So, I repeat: Do Rep. Josh Gottheimer, leader of the centrist Democrats in the House, and Rep. Pramila Jayapal, leader of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, have the courage to stop issuing all-or-nothing ultimatums and give everyone any other foolproof assurances that they will do something hard?
Yes, they are each going to risk the wrath of part of their constituencies to reach a compromise on adopting infrastructure now and voting rights and social spending Build Back Better soon after – without anyone getting it. whatever they wanted, but both sides get great. It’s called politics.
And are centrist Democratic Senators Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema willing to risk not being reelected like Liz Cheney did by forging a substantive compromise to ensure that electoral integrity, infrastructure and measures Build Back Better go ahead? Or are they just the Democratic equivalents of the career hacks that keep Trump afloat – people so attached to their $ 174,000 salaries and free parking at Reagan National Airport that they don’t risk anything?
And, frankly, is the Biden White House ready to forge that compromise with all the pressure, Oval Office teas, incentives, pork and seductions are needed? This could energize the public much more by never referring to this FDR-wide social reform package as a “reconciliation” and calling it only by its real substance: universal pre-K, health care. homes for the sick and the elderly, lower prices for prescription drugs, bolstered Obamacare, cleaner energy, green jobs and easier access to college education that has long started a leveling of the rules of the game between the rich and the working class. In addition, the White House must sell it not only to urban Democrats but to rural Republicans, who will benefit as well.
Progressives must have the courage to accept less than they want. They could use a little more humility in acknowledging that spending trillions of dollars at once could have unintended effects – and a lot more respect for the risk-takers who create jobs, which they never have. a good word. If Biden’s presidency is propelled forward and seen as a success for everyday Americans, Democrats can occupy the Senate and House and return later.
The moderates must have the courage to give the progressives much more than the moderates prefer. The income and opportunity gaps in America helped produce Trump; they will be our downfall if they persist.
We are not writing the Ten Commandments here. We trade in horses. Do it.
None of the Democratic lawmakers will risk their careers by such a compromise, which is a cinch compared to the daily anger of running for re-election in America’s most pro-Trump state, Wyoming, while denouncing Trump as the greatest threat to our democracy.
But I am afraid that common sense will not prevail. As Democratic Representative from Minnesota Dean Phillips (a parent) pointed out to me after Tuesday’s House Democratic caucus: âThe lack of pragmatism among Democrats is as troubling as the lack of principle among the Democrats. republicans.
Thomas L. Friedman is a three-time Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist for The New York Times.