Big Lie of Stolen Election Obscures Cheney’s, GOP’s Bigger Longstanding Lie

Tim Libretti, PhD
5 min readJun 20, 2021
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The current rift roiling the Republican Party has centered on the “Big Lie.” To be a Republican insider these days, the prevailing wisdom goes, one has to accept that the 2020 presidential election was stolen from Donald Trump. If one doesn’t, one is sure to be shunned.

Put another way, the rift isn’t about the strength and substance of one’s conservative principles or advocacy for Republican policies — or even about a loyalty to Donald Trump’s policy agenda. Indeed, as has been pointed out, embattled Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY) actually voted in line with Trump’s legislative agenda than her successor in her Republican House leadership position Elise Stefanik (R-NY).

Pundits, professors, and politicians alike, at least, have characterized the opposing sides of rift in these terms, pitting on one side an out-of-control Republican contingent insistent on peddling, if not believing, the delusion that the election was stolen from Trump, against a traditionalist, somehow sane, and principled wing of the Republican Party committed to the embracing the truth, upholding the Constitution, and promoting a conservative vision that purportedly orbits the realm of reason and roots itself in truth and constitutional principles. The former side, the story goes, has abandoned democracy and promises its extinction, while the latter camp is figured as democracy’s staunchest defender.

Cheney, of course, has been hailed as a profile in courage, a hero fighting this principled stand.

In many ways, the ascension of this “stop the steal” faction, which may appear as lunatic as it is dangerous, has done a great favor to the traditional wing of the Republican Party, providing a fig leaf for them to cover their otherwise shameful, inhumane, and anti-democratic principles and policies. They get to sound sane and reasonable by comparison, simply by distinguishing themselves from an extremism premised on blatant dishonesty and fueled by a vociferous and anxious white supremacy.

Trumpism, in fact, has provided a fortuitous opening for the Republican Party establishment to salvage its own perfidious conservatism by providing a kind of straw man foil, giving “the establishment” the opportunity to lure Americans’ political attention…

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Tim Libretti, PhD

Professor of Literature, Political Economy enthusiast, Dad, always thinking about the optimal world