Think Republicans in Washington are Bad? They’re Far Worse at the State LevelRoundup
tags: Republican Party, conservatism, Donald Trump, Federalism, Big Lie
Max Boot is a Washington Post columnist, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations and the author of The Road Not Taken: Edward Lansdale and the American Tragedy in Vietnam.
The House Republican Conference is about to boot out Rep. Liz Cheney (Wyo.) as the conference chairwoman because she won’t countenance the “big lie” that Donald Trump was the real winner of the 2020 election. Her likely replacement is Rep. Elise Stefanik (N.Y.), whose chief qualification is that she has eagerly and often spread election lies. It’s another depressing sign that the Republican Party has become an authoritarian cult of personality that threatens our democracy.
But Jeb Bush, the Republican scion who served as governor of Florida, wants us to cheer up. Don’t fall “into the trap that conservative[s] are defined by what goes on in Washington DC,” he tweeted on Friday night. “We are a bottom up country and all of this hyper focus on DC politics is wrong. Look to conservatives in the States and those doing great work outside of organized politics.”
I like Jeb Bush. He is a fine gentleman and a principled conservative. But this is merely evidence of how out of touch he is with what his party has become. The “conservatives in the States” aren’t more sensible than the ones in Washington. They are actually far scarier.
Most Republican members of Congress know that the “big lie” is not true; they’re just too cowardly to say so. Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.) estimates that only five House members believe that the election was really stolen. By contrast, 70 percent of Republican voters in a recent CNN poll said that President Biden did not legitimately win the election. That number hardly hints at the intensity of Trumpist fervor at the local level.
Cheney isn’t losing only her House leadership position; she is likely to lose her House seat. In a recent poll by the Club for Growth, 52 percent of Republican voters in Wyoming said they would vote against her in a primary, while only 14 percent said they would definitely vote for her. She has already been censured for impeaching Trump by the state Republican Party; only eight members of the 74-person central committee opposed the censure resolution.