Skip to content
Opinion
Jonathan Bernstein

Liz Cheney’s Defense of Democracy Needs a Political Strategy

There are lessons in Cheney's loss in Wyoming, and the answers will help her counter Trump in 2024.

She campaigned as a national candidate against Trump, not as a local politician at all.

She campaigned as a national candidate against Trump, not as a local politician at all.

Photographer: Al Drago/Bloomberg

Two years ago, Wyoming Republican Liz Cheney was on her way to being a future Speaker of the House. She was the third-ranking House Republican with a totally safe seat. She lost that position in the House Republican conference, and now has lost her seat entirely. All because she decided to stand with the Constitution and the republic, and against the crimes of a Republican president.

An under-appreciated factor in Cheney’s rise and fall was that she was always a national politician who snagged a Wyoming seat. She was born in Wisconsin, went to high school near Washington, D.C., and went to college in Colorado before starting a Washington-based career in government and Republican politics. Indeed, her first attempt at winning office in Wyoming — a short-lived 2014 primary challenge to Republican Senator Mike Enzi — struggled with accusations of carpetbagging. In 2016, she was able to overcome that to win the vacant House seat, but her focus has always been on national, not local, policy questions. She never built the kinds of deep connections that many members of the House have within their own districts.