Wyoming GOP voters oust Liz Cheney for her outspoken criticism of Donald Trump

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Republican Liz Cheney, a three-term member of Congress and the GOP’s main – and lonely – critic of Donald Trump, misplaced her re-election bid on Aug. 16, 2022, to a Trump-supported major challenger, Harriet Hageman.

Cheney had fallen out of favor with Republican voters throughout the nation, who considered her unrelenting sharp criticism of Trump as apostasy. Her fall from favor was dramatically evident within the Wyoming Republican major, the place Hageman took 66% of the vote to Cheney’s 29% share.

It was a surprising reversal of Cheney’s displaying in earlier years.

Within the 2020 normal election in Wyoming, Cheney received almost 70% of the vote, based mostly on her dependable voting report that was in line with the GOP legislative agenda.

In a state the place over 70% of registered voters are Republicans, Cheney ought to have been a shoo-in for reelection within the Wyoming GOP major. However she wasn’t.

Polling carried out 10 days earlier than the election revealed Cheney trailing political newcomer Harriet Hageman by almost 30 factors.

The important thing distinction between then and now could be that Hageman has been endorsed by Donald Trump on account of her embrace of Trump’s “massive lie” that the 2020 election was “rigged.”

In stark distinction, Cheney stays one of many few GOP critics of Trump and serves because the vice chair of the Jan. 6 congressional choose committee investigating the assault on the U.S. Capitol.

She has referred to as Trump’s election lie “a most cancers that threatens our nice Republic.”

In response, Trump has referred to as Cheney a “despicable human being” and a RINO, a pejorative acronym for “Republican in identify solely.”

The query then is how might the endorsement of a one-term, twice-impeached and traditionally unpopular former president catapult an unknown candidate into an enormous win over an efficient incumbent?

Partisan loyalty trumps GOP insurance policies

As I argue in my current guide “Sustaining Democracy,” the state of affairs shouldn’t be so perplexing in spite of everything.

To clarify Cheney’s predicament, it’s essential to acknowledge that peculiar fascinated about how democracy works begins with a mistaken premise.

GOP candidate Harriet Hageman listens to Donald Trump Jr. communicate at her rally on June 14, 2022.
Natalie Behring/Getty Photos

We assume that voters first decide their pursuits after which assist candidates who will greatest advance them. Though it lies on the coronary heart of the speculation of consultant democracy, this assumption places issues backwards. In at this time’s hyperpartisan America, political pursuits are the product of political allegiances – not the opposite manner round.

Partisan identification comes first, coverage preferences path behind.

Such is the case in Wyoming.

Judging from the animosity between the campaigns, it’s affordable to anticipate stark coverage variations between Cheney and Hageman. However in truth, their legislative priorities are very a lot alike. Hageman embraces commonplace GOP positions about defending borders, opposing abortion, reducing taxes, upholding the Structure and “placing America first” – as does Cheney.

By peculiar measures, Hageman and Cheney must be allies.

This occurs as a result of partisan affiliation is a matter of life-style moderately than concepts.

In america, liberals and conservatives systematically favor completely different neighborhoods, stay in several sorts of housing and even show completely different tastes in residence ornament.

Furthermore, partisan identification is firmly tied to the place one retailers, the meals one eats, the automobile one drives, the tv reveals one watches, the place one holidays and even the model of espresso one prefers.

Households, colleges, workplaces and locations of worship consequently have all develop into politically homogeneous.

With the citizens successfully segregated into distinctly liberal and conservative methods of life, partisan identification is acquired in the middle of peculiar social interplay, much like how people develop into followers of the native sports activities groups.

How excessive views develop

The difficulty is that when people inhabit ideologically homogeneous social environments, they develop into more and more weak to perception polarization, the phenomenon whereby interactions with like-minded people lead us to undertake extra excessive beliefs and attitudes.

As folks develop into extra excessive on this manner, additionally they undertake intensely unfavourable views of those that don’t share their partisan affiliation. This causes them to band along with partisan allies, fueling the dynamic additional.

Importantly, our polarized selves are additionally extra conformist.

As folks shift into extra excessive beliefs and attitudes, additionally they demand rising homogeneity amongst their allies. This renders coalitions extra reliant on centralized and hierarchical leaders to set the requirements for genuine group membership.

In flip, the group begins to expel members and thus to shrink.

Poisonous impression on democracy

However that’s not all.

Because the group turns into extra homogeneous, it additionally turns into extra weak to the Black Sheep Impact, the tendency for people to dislike lapsed or deviant members of their very own group extra intensely than they dislike members of rival teams. Polarization makes cross-partisan relations poisonous, but it surely additionally poisons relations amongst allies.

So Cheney’s political destiny isn’t any puzzle.

Finally, I imagine, the distinction between her and Hageman has little to do with legislative priorities or the enterprise of Congress.

A middle-aged man hugs his daughter as they both are smiling while standing near a fireplace.
Former Vice President Dick Cheney hugs his daughter Liz Cheney after she received the Republican major for the U.S. Congress on Aug. 16, 2016.
David Hume Kennerly through GettyImages

The divide, moderately, is a matter of loyalty to a partisan identification that has Trump at its heart, and the corresponding have to punish those that refuse to conform together with his needs.

Mockingly, Cheney’s willpower to uphold the Structure and the rule of regulation could have been her undoing amongst Republican voters.

But the Wyoming major reveals a deeper drawback.

Within the U.S. democratic system, members of Congress pledge to faithfully carry out the position set for them within the Structure. That position is to signify the pursuits of their state constituents in federal policymaking.

As soon as we acknowledge the centrality of partisan identities and the way they’re rooted in existence moderately than public insurance policies, it turns into clear that a lot typical fascinated about how democracy works wants revision.

This story is an up to date model of an article that was initially printed on August 15, 2022.


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