The “best” Republicans don’t come

Republicans love a good ol ‘purity test. The party has long drawn inspiration from an endless array of scorecard groups that set the standard for GOP DNA and punish deviantsof Club for Growth To RNA To the Heritage Foundation. In the 2016 election, then-Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus feared Donald Trump would refuse to support the winner of the Republican presidential primary, promulgated its own purity test by forcing the field to submit to an oath of loyalty that they would support the prospective candidate. In the end, of course, Trump himself won the nomination. Now, forced devotion to Trump is the only test of purity that matters.

Liz Cheney is perhaps the most notable recent victim of the Trump Party’s purity test. Last May, the representative from Wyoming was kicked from the GOP House leadership team for her failure to show loyalty to Dear Leader. Even more recently it was formally defrocked of its Republican character by the Wyoming GOP. I don’t spend a lot of time pitying Cheney, but she certainly did try to force such a feeling on us. In an editorial for The Washington Post Shortly after her excommunication in May, she called the moment of her defeat a “turning point” for her party. “History is watching,” she wrote.

However, when asked to comment, History reminded me that not so long ago Cheney’s hot red blood was pounding pure and true, during which she gladly pushed her party towards the illiberal turns of its own design. The story specifically took me back to 2010, when Cheney’s political action group, Keep America Safe, dropped an ad questioning “the loyalty of the attorneys of the Department of Justice who argued in favor of the detention of terrorist suspects during the Bush administration”. At the time, Attorney General Eric Holder angered Cheney by refusing to identify seven of the suspects by name. Cheney’s ad called these lawyers “Seven of Al Qaeda.”

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