In America, as opposed to one-party, totalitarian nations, “reading people out” of a movement or a party is characteristic of cults and tiny sectarian groups. Family lore has it that my father once helped read his future sister-in-law out of the local Socialist party due to her Trotskyite tendencies.
I’m reminded of this because the Wyoming Republican party has read Liz Cheney out of the GOP. It voted to no longer recognize her as a Republican.
Not for Trotskyite tendencies. Not even for being liberal. She is no longer deemed a Republican because, in view of the January 6 rioting, she considers Donald Trump a menace, voted to impeach him, and agreed to serve on a committee investigating the rioting.
Not so long ago, Trump was not a Republican. And even today, he is no more conservative than Cheney. Probably, he’s less so.
Is there any precedent in our two main political parties for what the Wyoming GOP has done to Cheney? Maybe, if one searches for it.
But think of all the maverick Republicans who were never “read out” of the GOP. Arlen Specter frequently voted with the Democrats. He did not vote to impeach Bill Clinton (citing Scottish law). He was unreliable on judicial nominees unless a reelection campaign was coming up.
Specter eventually left the GOP on his own. To my knowledge, there was never a campaign to have the party not recognize him as a member.
Specter was branded a RINO — Republican in name only. RINO became a vastly overused term. It was employed against Republicans who voted with the party on key issues more often than they did not, thus belying the claim that they had little besides the name in common with Republicans. (Liz Cheney, though, almost always votes with her fellow Republicans and thus can’t be called a RINO even in the overused sense of that term. According to this article she votes with her party more often than Jim Jordan and Elise Stefanik do.)
But at least the RINO appellation recognized that those who supposedly fit the description were Republicans. It did not purport to strip them of that affiliation.
This is as it should be. In a free country, individuals get to decide which party they belong to. Central authorities should respect their choices.
I’ve criticized Cheney for her obsession with Trump, and I defended removing her from a leadership position in the House GOP caucus. But the Wyoming Republican party’s move suggests that her obsession with Trump is reasonable, and shared by that branch of the GOP. It lends credence to this claim by Allahpundit at Hot Air:
To be a good Republican in 2021, you need to be loyal to Trump, not to conservatism. It may be called the Republican Party but in practice it’s the Trump Party.
It’s not Cheney’s obsession with Trump that the Wyoming GOP objects to. It’s that she has “the wrong line” on Trump and on the events of January 6 (which the Wyoming GOP resolution manages to blame on BLM and Antifa), to use another phrase associated with the sectarian left.
I believe there is a basis for Cheney’s concerns about Trump. However, I also believe she overstates them, significantly so at times.
But publicly articulated and acted-upon disgust with one Republican politician, however influential he is, should never cause the state branch of that party to do what the Wyoming GOP has done to Cheney. When it does, that’s a bad sign.