The Republican Party needs to distance itself from conspiracies about the 2020 election and instead focus on prioritizing effective policy, Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) said at a Georgetown University event.
At the Zoom discussion, Cheney discussed her vision for the future of the Republican Party. The eldest daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney, Liz Cheney served as the deputy assistant secretary of state for Near Eastern affairs under the George W. Bush administration. In 2016, she was elected as Wyoming’s representative and currently holds the position of House Republican Conference chair, making her the third-highest-ranking Republican in the House of Representatives.
During the 2020 election, the Republican Party lost the White House and its majority in the Senate, giving Democrats control over both chambers of Congress and the executive branch. In response, many Republicans, most prominently former President Donald Trump, have perpetuated the debunked theory that the election was stolen.
The Republican Party needs to accept the results of the election in order to move on and tackle issues of actual substance and ideas, according to Cheney.
“In addition to the damage it does to our democratic process, to claim that an election was stolen or rigged when it wasn’t also doesn’t make any sense politically to be doing that because we want those voters back,” Cheney said at the event. “People are tired of the vengeance and the vitriol. They want some hope.”
The April 12 event, titled “A Conversation With Congresswoman Liz Cheney,” was hosted by the Georgetown University Institute of Politics and Public Service and featured GU Politics Executive Director Mo Elleithee (SFS ’94) as moderator.
While Republicans continue to clash over their party’s loyalty to Trump, the real reason the GOP lost the 2020 election is that it failed to communicate its platform during the 2020 election, according to Cheney.
“In both the Democratic Party and the Republican Party, we’re in this era of celebrities and social media. We need to think about how we can — in both parties frankly — structure incentives for people to debate on policy and substance. Too often, the incentives run toward who can make the splash on Twitter,” Cheney said. “It is really important for us to get more of those folks who really do want to make things better for the lives of their constituents.”
Cheney faced her own social media firestorm and pushback from her party after she voted alongside nine other GOP representatives to impeach Trump for inciting the Jan. 6 Capitol riot after the election. In response, her pro-Trump Republican colleagues attempted to remove her from her leadership post.
Even though Republicans now make up the minority party in the federal government, its focus should be to craft alternative legislative proposals productively, according to Cheney.
“When you’re in the minority, it becomes easy to say no all the time. My constituents certainly want to know that we’re fighting against the policies that we think are bad and dangerous,” Cheney said. “That’s important, but then you also have to remind yourself that when you’re going out to try and tell people, ‘Listen, here’s why you ought to put us in the majority,’ you need to have a positive agenda.”
Cheney said a shift to policy-centered politics will ultimately make for a healthier political climate and will encourage more people to become involved in politics.
“No matter where you are on the political spectrum, it really matters to get involved,” Cheney said. “Our country really needs young people to be involved and engaged, and I just think it’s a lot more interesting and appealing to get engaged if you’re talking about substance and policy than if we’re all just screaming at each other.”