Representative Liz Cheney, ever since January 6, has been one of the most outspoken critics of former President Donald Trump. She has consistently denounced the former President’s actions as being “deranged” and even violent. On May 12, the Republican caucus had enough of Cheney’s attacks against the former President and moved swiftly to remove her from her No. 3 position in the Republican caucus. Defiant as ever, she told reporters after her ousting that she “will do everything [she] can to make sure the former president never again gets anywhere near the Oval Office.” The high-stakes political drama in the GOP caucus is fascinating and all, but what does this ousting mean for the GOP and America?
This ousting will ultimately not affect any American right now. Cheney was the No. 3 leader of the minority party in the House. The No. 3 spot manages conferences between Republicans and is, for the most part, not a very important political post. But if the Republicans come back into power in the House, then the symbolism of this ousting will mean so much more. If Republicans take back the House, which they are predicted to do, the tribulations, comments, and opinions of the former president would influence a Republican House of Representative, giving him de facto control of the chamber. Suddenly the word of Trump would mean the word of law, and the American people would once again have to listen to Trump to know when the law of the land would change. The House Republicans have turned to Trump as their de facto leader, and we all must realize that Trump’s return to political importance may be forthcoming.
The House Republicans have chosen their path with President Trump, but it is important to remember that this ousting only represents what House Republicans see as the future of the party. The majority of Senate Republicans have, for the most part, been avoiding the question of whether or not Trump should be the leader of the party. In an interview with Fox News, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said he would “absolutely” support Trump if he were to become the Republican nominee for President. He also pointed out that the nomination was still a “wide-open race,” refusing to comment if he would support the former President in the 2024 primary. We must also remember that on January 6, when Trump made it absolutely clear that he wanted Republicans to vote to disqualify the electors of key swing states, the vast majority of Republican senators refused his request. Even after the attack, McConnell was a vocal critic of the president, calling him “morally responsible for the attack.” Even before the capital attack, McConnell orchestrated the initial failure of the $2,000 stimulus checks, which the former president supported. The rift between the Senate GOP and Trump has always been there, and it seems that the Republican senators are hesitant to hand the reins of their delegation to President Trump. But very soon, the Senate Republicans will need to decide if they’re either with Trump or against him.
The reality of Cheney’s ousting is that Kevin McCarthy wants to be Speaker McCarthy, not House Minority Leader McCarthy. In April, an NBC poll found that 44% of Republicans said they support the former president over the Republican party, indicating that winning a majority in the House hinges on support from Trump’s base. With Liz Cheney in the No. 3 slot, McCarthy could not risk sending the message that his delegation was not entirely behind Trump. McCarthy himself may not even like Trump, considering that he denounced Trump on the House floor in the days following the January 6 attack on the capital. But the future of the GOP is not being taken in Trump’s direction by McCarthy’s will but by the hardcore Trump base. There is no future for the GOP if it loses nearly half of its supporters to a Trump-backed third party, and McCarthy saw that Cheney remaining in the leadership was a bad look for the party. For better or worse, McCarthy has appealed to the Trump voters and removed Cheney, signaling that Trumpism is here to stay in American politics.