One thing that places this in historical context is, simply, that there has been a Cheney — Liz or her dad Dick — at or near the top of Republican leadership since the 1970s.
Dick Cheney started working in Richard Nixon’s White House as an intern and was appointed White House chief of staff under Gerald Ford.
He rose in Congress to be GOP conference chair — the same job his daughter just lost — and minority whip during the Ronald Reagan administration and then was Secretary of Defense during the George H.W. Bush administration. Out of government during Bill Clinton’s eight years, Dick Cheney was then vice president for eight years under President George W. Bush, when Liz began working in the State Department.
She became a member of the GOP leadership one year after being elected to Congress, in 2016, at the end of the Obama administration.
The election of Donald Trump was itself a refutation of previous Republican administrations, but the excision of Cheney is a sign that the party has moved on from the beacon-of-freedom ideals that dominated the party for decades, arguably dating back to Dwight Eisenhower. Certainly from Ronald Reagan through George W. Bush, the GOP pushed democracy as gospel with words, even as it fell far short in deeds.
Cheney referenced that lineage when she spoke, defiantly, on the House floor Tuesday night.
“As the party of Reagan, Republicans championed democracy, won the Cold War, and defeated the Soviet Communists. As we speak, America is on the cusp of another Cold War — this time with communist China. Attacks against our democratic process and the rule of law empower our adversaries and feed Communist propaganda that American democracy is a failure. We must speak the truth. Our election was not stolen, and America has not failed.”
Her stern warning to Republicans is worth reading in full. (House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy’s explanation for supporting her ouster is also important, as the counterpoint.)
If Cheney was heir to that era of the GOP, it feels over as a main strain of Republicanism now that she’s been purged from the top of the party for refusing to push the fake reality that Trump won the election.
It’s hard to be, as Reagan put it in his inaugural address, “a beacon of hope for those who do not now have freedom,” if you party is devoted to rejecting the results of a free and fair election.
It’s completely impossible to be that beacon when Republicans in Arizona have squirreled some of the state’s 2020 ballots behind closed doors, hunting for fraud that does not exist and creating a circus of democracy.