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Liz Cheney’s damning hypocrisy

The Wyoming congresswoman opposes Trump but won’t defend democracy.

In voting against the John Lewis Voting Rights Act, Cheney has given a boost to voter suppression and the racist extremism she says she deplores.Jim Bourg/Associated Press

Don’t listen to what Representative Liz Cheney of Wyoming says. Watch what she does.

During a “60 Minutes” interview Sunday, Cheney said, “We need to work against discrimination of all kinds in our country, in our state.” She said that she is “not ready to cede [the Republican Party] to the voices of extremism, to the voices of antisemitism, and the voices of racism.”

Yet Cheney voted against a bill to protect democracy from GOP racism and extremism.

Last month, every Republican voted no on the John Lewis Voting Rights Act. Named for the late Georgia congressman and civil rights icon who was nearly beaten to death in 1965 while marching in Selma, Ala., for voting rights, the bill seeks to fully restore critical sections of the landmark 1965 Voting Rights Act gutted by the Supreme Court in 2013.

Since the 2020 presidential election, Republican-led state legislatures have been pulling every imaginable trick (and some only the most diabolical minds could concoct) to codify efforts to make it harder to vote and easier to overturn election results. There is no greater threat to democracy than a political party that has abandoned any allegiance to the Constitution for destructive win-at-all-costs strategies.


Cheney may not be beholden to Donald Trump or his Big Lie that a majority of Republicans believe about an election Trump lost by more than 7 million votes. But in her failure to protect voting rights, she boosted every voter suppression bill and law that lie has spawned. She is complicit in Trump and the GOP’s efforts to unravel the core tenet of our democracy.

None of this has stopped Cheney from continuing to garner the effusive praise that began when she voted to impeach Trump in his second trial. She later became one of only two Republicans serving on the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 insurrection, and was recently named its vice chairwoman.


But the bar for what passes for courage in the GOP these days is so abysmally low that simply calling out a blatant lie is cause for canonization. In her intro to Cheney’s interview, “60 Minutes” correspondent Lesley Stahl’s fangirling was embarrassing: “Like a lone ranger riding out of the West, she’s one of the few Republicans willing to, daring to, stand up to Mr. Trump and House Republican leaders who opposed her joining the committee.”

Stahl said to Cheney, “You have become, in a way, a hero to the liberals, which is kind of funny because, as you say yourself, you’re one of the most conservative members of the House.” It’s not funny at all, and there’s nothing heroic about Cheney or her political record.

By her own admission, Cheney voted with Trump 93 percent of the time during his presidency. She told Stahl the former president’s policies “were the right ones in many ways.” Cheney is against reproductive rights and gun reform. She does not regret her vote in a failed attempt to repeal the Affordable Care Act. Like her father, Dick Cheney, who was vice president during the George W. Bush administration, she maintains that waterboarding is “not torture.” (Spoiler alert: It’s torture.)


Yet the biggest headline from the interview concerned Cheney’s regrets over her past opposition to same-sex marriage, a stance that caused a rift between her and her sister Mary, a lesbian. They’ve since reconciled, and who doesn’t love an estranged family made whole again, right?

Of course, that time would have been better spent asking Cheney why she won’t safeguard voting rights. She denounces the attempted coup at the Capitol but ignores the ongoing coups in state capitals from Texas to Arizona to her own home state of Wyoming. In this fraught moment, Cheney jousting with the former president and House minority leader and Trump sycophant Kevin McCarthy is insufficient. Trumpism has metastasized into an energized white supremacist movement that is driving this nation’s most urgent terrorism threat.

To suppress the vote is to depress democracy. And for more than 150 years, every attempt to curtail voting rights has been deeply rooted in racism and keeping Black people from exercising their constitutional rights. That’s what Cheney has endorsed.

Since the insurrection, Cheney has often said that Trump and his Republican supporters are “undermining our democracy.” In refusing to protect voting rights so is Cheney, another GOP hypocrite pretending to be a hero.

Renée Graham is a Globe columnist. She can be reached at Follow her @reneeygraham.