The failed bid by Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming for House speaker laid bare a deepening feud among the GOP establishment, conservative populists, and former President Donald Trump.
Cheney, the daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney, was pushed from her position as House GOP leader in a secret ballot vote earlier this month. The 158-no vote marked a united front against her by Republican members of the House who sought to send a message that Trump’s stance on electoral integrity is considered party gospel.
Though the vote itself was secret, it’s clear that Cheney, who had emerged as one of the more vocal GOP critics of Trump and his rhetoric since leaving office, was not able to find enough support to secure the speakership. Her ouster appears to be a sign of foreboding news for other GOP politicians who may be critical of Trump’s post-presidential behavior – one might even say it’s a civil war within the GOP.
The vote also galvanized Republicans into two camps, with Cheney holding fast to principles of traditional Republican governance while many of her colleagues were swayed by a populist movement that Trump still clearly holds sway over.
The result is an unmistakable divide that could define how the party approaches Trump and the policies that he championed while in office. Across the GOP spectrum, Cheney’s failed run is being seen as a sign that the party is continuing to become more unionized behind Trump’s overall message, at least for the moment.
Cheney’s ouster was a stark reminder of Trump’s enduring power within the Republican party and how his populist message continues to resonate with Republicans in ways that traditional party principles cannot. Despite her removal from leadership, Cheney said she will continue to speak out against Trump and his policies.
The fight between Trump’s hard-driving populism and Cheney’s more traditional ideals may prove to be a defining battle for the future of the Republican Party, and the failed speaker bid is a sign that populism has won out – at least for now.