Yesterday, Liz Cheney was ousted from her position as House Republican Conference chair, the third-highest position in the House Republican leadership. There was no scandal, no embezzlement, no secret second family. She was voted out of the job she was established and popular in because she wouldn’t embrace the lie that the 2020 presidential election was stolen from former president Donald Trump.
Liz Cheney had already survived an identical vote in February for the same reason, and many thought that that would be the end of the issue. But Washington reporters all seem to agree on one thing: Cheney maintaining her position with the GOP was contingent on an unspoken agreement that she’d stop publicly disagreeing with Donald Trump over the validity of the 2020 election. Cheney did not do this. Instead, in her defiance, she has highlighted exactly why those who love and seek to protect freedom of speech shouldn’t count on the GOP or the right to maintain it.
Donald Trump sought to position himself as a pro-freedom of speech leader throughout the 2020 election. He repeatedly spoke out against “cancel culture” and the left’s political correctness. His Fourth of July speech was dedicated to it at Mount Rushmore and it was the most prevalent theme (alongside school vouchers) throughout the Republican National Convention that saw his nomination for President in 2020. Those who wanted to ride on his coattails in the GOP also adopted this narrative.
However, despite what many of these Republicans would say, it was clear they only had time for freedom of speech when it doesn’t turn against Trump. Liz Cheney’s removal is the latest evidence of this. From right wing outrage over athletes kneeling for the anthem to refusing to vote in Neera Tanden because of so-called “mean tweets”, the right and Republicans have shown us time and time again that they have no interest in protecting freedom of speech.
It’s easy to be taken in by narratives that claim to support such noble goals, but we as libertarians have an obligation to realize there is a reason why we don’t already fit into the right’s way of doing things, it’s why we seek to transcend their politics. We must recognize that these claims are nothing more than that. Empty words designed to whip their base into a frenzy and alienate their enemy, the left.
Many libertarians have strong overlap in their priorities with the right wing, but as supporters of free speech we must also seek to support the voices the right are trying to suppress. Not because we necessarily agree with them, but because we recognize that the suppression is wrong. Our enemy is no more the left than it is the right, so it’s time to opt out of their culture wars and stop giving them a platform to continue to lie about their relationship with freedom of speech.
During his acceptance speech at last year’s RNC, Donald Trump asked, “Who is trying to…establish speech codes designed to muzzle dissent?” His answer: the radical left. I wonder what Liz Cheney might have to say about that.
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