Few elected officials have played as high-profile of a role in defending democracy than former Wyoming Congresswoman Liz Cheney, who served as the Republican vice chair of the January 6th select committee investigating the attack on the U.S. Capitol. Cheney’s distinguished record in public service and bipartisanship lends important perspective on individual freedom and collective action, the importance of civility for the future of democracy, and the kind of character necessary to sustain it. She connected with the Detroiter magazine to talk all things democracy, January 6, and the 2024 election.
In your view, what is the state of our democracy?
Democracy is fragile, and ours is under assault. The United States is the oldest constitutional republic in the world and we’re only 246 years old. Our institutions are not self-sustaining. Each generation of Americans must take responsibility for defending our freedom. Too many elected officials act as though they are simply bystanders. Each of us is obliged to put the interests of the country above party.
What advice do you have for disaffected Republicans to engage in politics today?
America is facing serious challenges and we need serious and sane leaders to overcome these threats. I believe in the conservative policies – small government, low taxes, strong national defense– the Republican Party has long stood for. We need to return to substantive debates and policy making. We need to embrace the Constitution, incentivize good candidates, reject toxicity, and encourage more serious people to run for office.
National crisis often brings the nation closer together, the pandemic did the opposite. What needs to happen for the nation to have a greater sense of unity?
We need to lower levels of the toxicity and vitriol that consume politics, and we need to elect serious people. We’re not going to agree on everything, but we need people in positions of power and public trust who are serious, who do their homework, who are honorable, and who serve for the right reasons. Leaders like that can restore public confidence and inspire unity, even while we are having vigorous policy debates.
What are your thoughts on the polarization of media today and what price are we paying for this dynamic?
We are paying a steep price, especially when news and opinion hosts are not being honest and forthright with their audiences. Bias and polarization are never going to go away, but it undermines our democracy when news organizations are actively spreading lies to drive an agenda. We all need to be informed consumers of information, and we need to embrace truth and honest debate.
What are the consequences if the actions and agitators of January 6th are not reported and not held accountable?
The only way to prevent another January 6th, and ensure the perpetuation of our republic, is to make sure those who were responsible for the events of that day are held accountable. We need to ensure that we work together across party lines to reject election deniers. The character of our leaders matters. We need to remember John Adams’ prayer that “none but honest and wise” individuals should ever be president.
Your father, Ronald Regan- and you -are pillars of the conservative movement, but it’s unlikely that the Reagan of 1980 could win a Republican primary today. What will it take for a non-Trump candidate to win the 2024 Republican nomination?
America deserves leaders who will honor their oath to the Constitution and inspire us all. This is the greatest nation on earth, and we must continue to be a beacon for those who love freedom around the world. Donald Trump is the only president in our history who has refused to guarantee the peaceful transfer of power. He unleashed a mob to attack our Capitol, watched the violence on television, and refused for hours to tell the mob to leave. He has proven he is unfit for office. He is a risk America can never take again.
You are reportedly exploring a run for president in 2024. What tea leaves are you looking at that will inform your decision?
The most important thing for our nation and the thing I’m most focused on is stopping Donald Trump and making sure he’s never near the Oval Office again.