Liz Cheney Will Not Debase Herself
Editor's Note: Steve Schmidt is one of the founding members of the Lincoln Project. He is a communications and public affairs strategist who has worked on several Republican campaigns, including John McCain's 2008 bid for the White House, and he is now a regular political contributor to MSNBC. On Thursday, Schmidt reacted to Wyoming Rep. Liz Cheney's refusal to accept Donald Trump's Big Lie as truth. MaxNewsToday has assembled this 12-tweet thread and reprinted it as one easy-to-read op-ed for our ongoing segment, Schmidt Storm. It has been edited for grammar and clarity. The coverage around the purging of Liz Cheney from the House GOP leadership has been generally awful in that it has largely missed the point about what is happening and why. Rep. Cheney will not debase herself and her oath and submit to THE BIG LIE. Period. Full stop. What is the BIG LIE? It is the following. Donald Trump won the 2020 election. The election was stolen in the dead of night when millions of votes, Black votes, appeared out of the ether from America’s inner cities and made Joe Biden the illegitimate winner. This lie poisoned faith and belief in the legitimacy of American democracy between November 3rd and January 6th. It was the foundation of the murderous insurrection that was incited by Trump, Josh Hawley, Ted Cruz, Kevin McCarthy, Fox News, Newsmax, OAN, et cetera, on January 6th. The BIG LIE is a political lie, and it is a lie of authority. It requires submission and surrender from all who wish to be in good standing within the autocratic movement. The lie about the stolen election exists in a straight line from Sean Spicer's day-one lie about the smaller crowd size being larger. It is the inevitable result of a political party that has stripped any pretense of ideas from its platform and replaced them with requirements of obedience and loyalty to the leader. Liz Cheney has refused to submit to the lie. That is the story and it is an essential one. The BIG LIE requires nourishment and sustainment from a poisonous ecosystem of thousands of other lies. They build on each other like a metastasizing cancer that assaults the pillars and foundations of American democracy without mercy. All Republicans in good standing must submit to the BIG LIE, and with it commit to permanent lying. Out of the BIG LIE have come hundreds of pieces of legislation aimed at restricting voting rights for Black and Brown Americans. The BIG LIE is now dogma within the Republican Party, which means that tens of millions of Americans believe they live under an illegitimate occupation. The BIG LIE will fuel extremism, bigotry and political violence in the years ahead. The question that rattled around my head the most during these last months is this: Can a country without a memory survive? The events of January 6th didn’t happen 40 years ago. They happened less than four months ago. Looking away from those events guarantees we will have more. Why does any of this matter? All of this is being done in the name of a political movement, and that movement's leader. The leader is Donald Trump and there are no statements more naïve, stupid and delusional than those that seek to dismiss him as “former...”. He is a figure of our present, who seeks a return to power in our immediate future. It’s past time to wake up to the dangers of this man and his movement. That is why the Liz Cheney story matters. In the end, there was only one amongst them who would not bow to the lie and stood tall for the country. We are witnessing an act of defiance in the name of the truth, and it is awesome to see.