A Former Republican Tells It Like It REALLY Is

Peter Wehner has served in three Republican administrations. He has been a vocal, long-time critic of Donald Trump, and recently considered the meaning of Liz Cheney’s ejection from her party leadership position.

He didn’t mince words.

The takedown of Representative Cheney was not an “inflection point,” as some have called it. It was the opposite — the latest (but it won’t be the last) confirmation that the Republican Party is diseased and dangerous, increasingly subversive and illiberal, caught in the grip of what Ms. Cheney described in The Washington Post as the “anti-democratic Trump cult of personality.”

I personally thought it was telling that McCarthy and House leadership used a voice vote to oust Cheney, making it impossible to tell who did and did not vote for removal. Reportedly,  Cheney supporters asked for an official tally and were rejected.

It was further confirmation of Wehner’s statement that “declaring fealty to a lie” is now the  single most important test of loyalty in today’s Republican Party. As he points out, most Americans recognize this, we sometimes fail to register its true significance.

“It’s a real sickness that is infecting the party at every level,” Barbara Comstock, a Republican who represented Virginia’s 10th Congressional District before Mr. Trump’s unpopularity in the suburbs sank her chances in the 2018 election, told Lisa Lerer of The Times. “We’re just going to say that black is white now.”

This should come as a surprise to exactly no one. For more than five years, the Republican Party and its leading media propagandists embraced and championed Mr. Trump’s mendacities, conspiracy theories and sociopathic tendencies. As a result, their brains became rewired, at least metaphorically speaking; the constant accommodation Republicans made to Mr. Trump caused significant cognitive distortions

Wehner scorns any expectation that the Republican Party would revert to being a normal party once Trump was gone. As he warns, there has not been and will not be “a post-Trump fight for the soul” of the GOP.

Liz Cheney understands that only a decisive break with Mr. Trump will stop the continuing moral ruination of the Republican Party. But her break with the former president, while courageous, came too late to change anything. She is trying to rally an army that doesn’t exist.

Wehner points out that a large number of grass-roots Republicans are simply delusional, having fully bought into a decade or more of lies promulgated by the party, . He says they believe Trump’s conspiracy theories because they want to believe them. Now, he says, they are addicted,.” and addictions are hard to break.”

The latest CNN/SSRS survey found that 70 percent of Republicans believe the false allegation that Joe Biden did not defeat Mr. Trump; a mere 23 percent said Mr. Biden won, despite the Trump administration’s admission that “the November 3 election was the most secure in American history.”

Most Republican members of Congress know better. Support of the Big Lie is unethical and cynical, not stupid. They have simply calculated that refuting the Lie, standing with Cheney, would put targets on their backs.

Many of the most influential figures in Republican politics have decided that breaking with Mr. Trump would so alienate the base of the party that it would make election victories impossible, at least for the foreseeable future. That’s essentially what Senator Graham was saying when he recently went on Fox News and posed this question to his Republican colleagues: “Can we move forward without President Trump? The answer is no.”

Wehner stops short of predicting the future of the GOP at a juncture when Cheney, who he notes is a member of an important Republican family and a person with unquestioned conservative credentials, is less popular with the Republican base and more reviled by the House leadership than Marjorie Taylor Green, the QAnon supporter who applauded the January 6th insurrection.

Ms. Cheney was stripped of her leadership post because she committed the unpardonable sin in 2021’s Republican Party: She spoke the truth about the legitimacy of the 2020 election results and refused to back down. Whatever she was before, she is a voice of conscience now, reminding her colleagues of their Faustian bargain with their peculiar Mephistopheles, Donald Trump. It enrages them even as it haunts them.

Today the Republican Party is less a political party than a political freak show. It is being sustained by insidious lies. And people who love America, starting with conservatives, should say so. Otherwise, if the Republican Party’s downward spiral isn’t reversed, it will descend even further into a frightening world of illusion.

In a multi-party system, this very accurate description of our current moment would be far less ominous, but America has only two political parties, and desperately needs both to be responsible and sane.


  1. And now the crazy party is writing voter restriction laws, and passing them, all over the country. This is far from over. Crazy and powerful seems like a very bad combination. But that is where we are.

  2. They should be serving popcorn for this dramatic account of American politics. Liz wants the GOP to be the party of old – Neocons. She sabotaged Trump’s troop withdrawal from Afghanistan by pedaling the bogus Russian bounty story which was pedaled without proof by Rachel Maddow on MSNBC. Like father, like daughter.

    Meanwhile, in the real world, we had people planning an insurrection, we had billionaires funding an insurrection, and we had political insiders helping with the insurrection. All of this Intel has been collected which would put an end to a big chunk of the current crazies occupying our Capitol, but the Democratic Party won’t hit the kill button.

    Why not?

    Because the owners need a right-wing to obstruct a progressive agenda. If the GOP was in shambles, with ejected party members, the remaining party would have nobody to blame for not pushing through progressive agendas for their constituencies.

    The whole bloody thing is a show for the masses. It would take maybe five serious journalists in Washington to destroy this whole ruse because it literally is falling apart at the seams. I can’t even watch Bernie Sanders any longer because of his part in this charade.

    For two weeks, our Secretary of State has been blasting Russia and China over their autocracies and human rights abuses, meanwhile GITMO, CIA black sites, and Israel. They’ve even been espousing their support of the free press even though we rank 44th and have been retaliating against Julian Assange for over a decade.

    Time to snap out of it folks.

  3. How many news headlines have we read stating “Former Republican Officials Threaten To Leave The Party”? How many and who are these people and have any of them actually left the Republican party? Either “poo poo or get off the pot boys and girls”; your talk is cheap and meaningless when not backed by action. There is no way to follow their lead when they are NOT leading.

    “I personally thought it was telling that McCarthy and House leadership used a voice vote to oust Cheney, making it impossible to tell who did and did not vote for removal. Reportedly, Cheney supporters asked for an official tally and were rejected.”

    COWARDS! Every one of them are cowards and those sitting in the House and Senate are the most dangerous cowards as their secret vote to oust Rep. Liz Cheney proved to this country and the world as they watch us sink deeper in the Trump MAGA continuing insurrection of the government from within. Their fears of the voting public speak loud and clear to those of us who are keeping watch; the outcome of the 2022 mid-term elections at all levels will foretell the outcome of the 2024 presidential election and a third Electoral College Republican appointment is imminent.

  4. America … Home of the Banana Republic (false loyalty breeds the Big Lie) versus the Democrat Republic (freedom bears responsibility and a big price tag shared by all).

  5. Cowards! Like JoAnn said!

    What is 45 holding over these people? They are dangerous cowards!

  6. Keep all of this in mind in2022 and 2024. Look how close they came to an overthrow this time and now in state legislatures all across the country, they are making it possible for their party to set aside election results and install their own favorites in office. If they don’t get crushed in the coming elections, kiss the republic goodbye.

  7. the media’s push the last 40 years to make boogey men er,persons out of liberals was the start. crushing the labor and allowing full tilt pocket filling of the rich,to decide. the party was bought,and think tanks and paid political media spin was introduced. social media has the crown jewel of ignorance. the rumor mill has taken the few words into levels unseen before free ink. then passed into a grinder for making the point. someone some where or groups of someones have made a killing literally in changing minds and cheerleading the cause. (who are they?)still what is the end game?
    though no one touches the subject as i’ve seen,opinion be damn and left aside. the only other authority bedsides the government is the capitalistic foundation,we have shoveled money into .
    as i would tell my working class buddies who work with me,the only other goverment is a corprate one and that’s authoritarian rule, no votes,no decisions,no objections,and eventually, no guns..get in line,read the signs and keep working..other wise be warehoused by a private entity.

  8. Todd:
    good words and keep the coffee hot, i see something coming,and it will take all of us
    to dismantle it..
    time for change…demand it..

  9. The Guardian had a good commentary today. The gist of it was people waiting for the “Old GOP” to reassert itself are like people waiting for the End of the World.

    Cas Mudde writes: On Thursday, a group of some 150 former Republicans published “A Call for American Renewal”, a manifesto with the stated aim of “building a common sense coalition for America”.

    The document’s signatories include many of the usual suspects of the Never-Trump right, including people associated with the Lincoln Project. It also includes a lot of “formers”. Active office-holders, with power and relevance – are conspicuously absent from the signatories.

    For all the media spin about “influential Republicans” or “Republican leaders”, none of the 150 signatories currently holds a significant position within the Republican party.

    As I’ve argued many times before, Trump did not hijack the party, at least not in ideological terms. In fact, for several decades the views of the Republican base had much more in common with Trump than with the signatories of this manifesto.

    Amplifying the anti-Trump Republicans’ message uncritically, as many liberal media and politicians are doing, will not make them more relevant within the Republican party. However, it might help them further whitewash their own pasts as well as that of the Republican party.

    Liz Cheney has been hyped-up as some noble figure. It is the classic – The Enemy of My Enemy is My Friend. Liz Cheney is no friend of the Progressive Movement.

  10. I for one do not believe that Republican brains became “re-wired” in the last 5 years of The Trumpet. The GOP in recent decades has been hard wired into a Right Wing Reactionary- bible thumping philosophy. The Trumpet was just the “Software” that was loaded into the pre-existing GOP “Hardware”.

    My Republican acquiesces have all the usual hackneyed cliches they blurt out about the Democratic Party being Socialists and Communists, like a Pavlov’s Dog response.

    They seem to need a demon too like: Obama, Pelosi, Harris or AOC and the the Squad and to a lesser extent Bernie and Elizabeth Warren.

  11. It is possible that the so called Republican Party is not diseased but dead and therefore beyond the potential of a Cheney to resurrect. It has had quite a run since 1854 when it arose from the ashes of the then Whig Party on the issues of slavery and admission of territories as states in the Union slave or free. This then new Republican party elected a president only six years later, a guy named Lincoln, something for us to keep in mind if and when the current Republican Party goes under and a new party with all the energy and enthusiasm new parties may have emerges (if one does). Fortunately, I see no Lincolns among the current array of Hawleys, Cruzes, Greenes and other such opportunistic and psychotic contenders for the throne.

    If my thesis holds water then we do not currently have a two-party system. The dying if not dead party cannot find consensus within its own ranks to be a political party what with no platform or guiding principles, leaving only grabs for power, prevarication, fantasy and cult worship in futile attempts to remain relevant.

    I do not agree that Trump has destroyed the Republican Party; I think that dubious honor belongs to the Republican power structure that allowed this catastrophe to happen, and though a lifelong liberal, I do not cheer the demise of the Republican Party, i.e., the one it used to be. I think democracy depends upon reasoned alternatives and compromise in governing.

    Like Hitler and Stalin, Trump does not share that view and recently attempted to destroy our democracy – a criminal act by several standards. Our task is to punish those who would overthrow our government and govern justly and honestly while awaiting what our new opposition (if any) brings forth while discarding its psychotic past (if it does) and adopting a platform and set of governing principles more in keeping with the traditional give and take of governing in a democracy. Till then? Resist!


  12. I am wondering and doubt that any of the signatories are from Indiana. While these Republicans express alarm and dismay over what the Republican party has become due to Trump, they ignore the simple fact that many of their proposed policies are not supportive of the civil rights of minorities, addressing wealth inequality, and taking measures to ensure that we respond effectively to global warming. They do not understand that Trump’s agenda is simply an extreme version of their own “moderate” agenda.

    The only good thing about Trump is that his cult has exposed America’s continued systems of racism, its anemic response to global warming, its objection to the rational approach of science, and our corporate, wealthy oligarchy ( as evidenced by their so called “tax reform”.) It has also demonstrated that many American citizens are as prone to believe a dictator as the Germans were. That really frightens me and awakens me to the truth that we have to act to protect our democratic republic.

    Right now it seems to me that we need to take aim at all these new laws enacted by Republicans that suppress minority voting. I can only hope that Ms. Abrams shows us how to do it.

  13. A voice vote….yes they are cowards! If you believe something to be true, you should not be afraid to be on record. These Republicans don’t want the press to be able to point them out and to vilify them. Yep, cowards! And this is who main stream citizens want representing them? Downright shameful!

  14. The first real public indication of the fact that the Republican Party had run off the rails was simply the fact that they chose Trump to be their Presidential candidate in the first place. It was already clear to thinking persons that he was totally unfit for the job.

  15. When individuals sink into the Slough of Despond that is mental illness, they can occasionally be saved by a well planned intervention or a well trained psychiatrist. But when succor is not sought or the condition is embraced as something positive, hope for recovery fades rapidly. The danger we should prepare for from Republicans is not what is happening now – that’s clear enough – but what is likely to result from diving ever deeper into irrationality, irrelevance, self-delusion and loss of discipline and self-control.

    When gaslighting become a policy and not merely a ploy, anything is possible. Reality is no longer recognizable and any ends justify any means. Since an insatiable craving for power is the only consistent theme of Republicans’ wild flagellation, it is safe to assume that they will do anything to claim victory in the next elections – anything. We must prepare for a far more serious insurrection than we recently witnessed. They own the guns. They’ve got the will. Money is not an issue. Loyalty to America’s Constitution is not up for discussion. With Trump at the helm, cruelty goes unquestioned. Winning through intimidation is a favored strategy.

    Unless Democrats move rapidly to forestall Republican aggression, the Slough of Despond will torn into a quagmire of fascism. The American experiment in democracy is threatened to an unprecedented extent. Who will step up to save it? Schumer? Pelosi? Biden? I fear their fire in the belly has turned into embers.

  16. I remember reading about the 1912 election, wherein it was posited that Taft had a choice of saving control of the party (from the Bull Moose faction), or guaranteeing a Republican victory. He chose the former, Roosevelt started the Bull Moose Party, and Wilson won. His faction retained control of the party after losing the election.

    The mirror image is needed now.

    This is a reality that I don’t think the “sane” Republicans have quite accepted yet.
    I agree with Gerald in his appraisal of the Republicans. It didn’t start with Trump, but more so with Rove’s “Permanent Republican Majority”.

    On their own, Democrats can only hope to keep holding back the Trumpsters by organizing and breaking the ‘fix’ that Republicans are trying to install. It won’t end matters.

    Only a total thumping at the ballot box (maybe twice) will end the Trumpsters’ power and that will require action by the “sane” Republicans. They are the ones that must run against the Trumpsters in primaries and not form part of the Congressional large minority nor the half of the Senate. They most act and vote as a third block. Then, they can either pick up the pieces of a defeated, chastised Republican Party, or let it go the way of the Whigs and create a new Center Right/Right wing party.

    I don’t see any group of Republicans forming a “third block” coalition to negotiate with Democrats, bypassing McCarthy and McConnell. As long as they see themselves as Republicans first, just working out a family squabble, I don’t see a smooth future.

    Note – I don’t count the “Trickle down, small government, Reagan had the answers” supposed “centrists” led by blue-dog Democrats – it needs a be a group of Republicans that stop caucusing with McCarthy and McConnell, breaking filibusters and working on real compromises, but especially running against Trumpsters in Red districts.

  17. “…if the Republican Party’s downward spiral isn’t reversed, it will descend even further into a frightening world of illusion.”

    More like “delusion…”

    This brings to mind the dilemma of “which came first, the chicken or the egg?”

    GOP politicians are not so much afraid of The Former Guy and his violent followers, as they are of losing power. If they all told the truth, (including all right-wing media) there would be no argument for the Big Lie. Instead of leading, these politicians pander to the base voters who are in actuality the eggs laid by those power-hungry political chickens. To change course to a sane and responsible Republican party, the GOP chickens need to crow the truth. Iʻm not holding my breath.

  18. In truth, we no longer have two political parties in the US. We have one and a quasi-religion that believes in rules that work only for the party leaders and funders and are based not on facts but self-serving assumptions, in other words, faith. (Apologies to the real Faith-full.) They have returned to their Whig roots as a movement to sell what is functional for them but dysfunctional for the country, to the country.

    We already said no thank you, once.


  19. We are watching the rise of a Hitler wannabe!!!! And this Republican party is terrified that if they allow people of color their due right to equality, that they will run them out of the country. It’s pretty sad when “old” white men are so afraid of an uprising from the people they have oppressed for centuries among whom might be another Einstein, for example. This is certainly not the Republican party that I knew growing up when bipartisanship really worked. What a shame.

  20. The Republican party no longer exists. It is now the NAFP, the New American Fascist Party. They just haven’t made the name change official.

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