It’s autumn on Notre Dame’s campus. Sugar maples have deep reds and oranges with some golden highlights. Others, who are dappled, cling to their green, refusing to accept that winter has arrived. This has been the time every other year that Congresswoman Liz Cheney has been on the trail in Wyoming to prepare for another election for her state’s lone House seat.
But Cheney is not in Wyoming. She lost her primary to Harriet Hageman on August 16th, a lawyer who won the decisive endorsement by President Donald Trump. It was not close. Cheney was able to get just below 29 percent of the vote, which is 49,000 votes. Hageman won more than 66% of the vote, with just under 113,000 votes. So Cheney is in South Bend, Indiana refusing to acknowledge that she has lost the war against the former president. The apple doesn’t fall far from its tree.
Cheney’s lecture to students and faculty on October 14, “Saving Democracy By Revering The Constitution”, provided very little information about American democracy and how revering it will save it. Instead, her speech was a tirade against Trump that centered on January 6th and the work she did with her fellow members of the January 6 Select Committee.
“One of the most important things that we all have to do is commit–individually, ourselves–to educate ourselves, to know what information we’re consuming, and to face the truth and to face facts. Today, I want to discuss some very important facts. “And that is the threat posed Donald Trump,” Cheney stated, before launching into her rant against the former president. It is a real and ongoing threat.
Cheney believes that Trump’s removal is the panacea for all of our nation’s problems. He must be stopped from holding power, even if it is something the people want. This is crucial to the survival of democracy and the constitution. Cheney did not elaborate on how that is democratic or constitutional. Instead, Cheney appealed to the audience not to have seen the January 6 Hollywood-produced hearings to “download and watch them” and denied that the proceedings and the committee were partisan.
Cheney stated that Trump had a premeditated strategy based on the findings of the committee. Premeditated plans to declare victory, regardless of the outcome, no matter what the results.
Cheney claimed that Trump was a fraud despite the advice of his advisors
He made the conscious decision that the election had been stolen and claimed fraudulently. He decided to press state officials to alter the results. He decided to make, to work, to force state officials and Republican Party members in several states to fabricate fake electoral lists, to attempt corruption at the Department of Justice, as well as to summon tens of thousand of people to Washington, D.C. on January 6. He knew that they were armed. He sent them to march to Capitol.
Later, Professor Phillip Munoz (the founding director of Notre Dame’s Center for Citizenship & Constitutional Government), asked Cheney a simple question: “Does Donald Trump have a criminal record on or around January 6?” What laws would you suggest? He should be prosecuted criminally.
Cheney replied that she could not answer the question, but suggested yes. Cheney replied, “I believe there’s no doubt about the answer”, but said that “the committee has a duty to make decisions regarding criminal referrals.” Cheney stated, “I do not want to get in the way of the discussions by this committee.”
The January 6 Committee will continue to work with Trump’s criminal referral. However, Cheney could not offer any law for the committee to consider. Trump’s enemies, even though they don’t have the goods, have never hesitated to claim that Trump violated the law in all of his attempts to throw him behind bars. What does this say about the findings of the committee?
Cheney also failed to mention Democrats who deny the results of the 2000 and 2004 presidential elections (elections that you would think Cheney would recall quite well), 2016 as well as any other contentious statewide election. I think of the 2018 Georgia gubernatorial election. She didn’t mention Antifa and Black Lives Matter riots that erupted in almost every major U.S. metropolitan area during the summer 2020. These riots besieged government buildings, and claimed the lives of many.
It is telling how she described Statuary Hall immediately after January 6,
As I walked through the building that evening, I saw people in SWAT gear and tactical gear sitting around every wall and against every statue. They had just fought for hours to protect our democracy, our Capitol and the lives of all those who were present. Water bottles were scattered across the floor. These were water bottles they were using to clean away the tear gas and other irritants. As I was walking around, I tried my best to say thanks. I felt inadequate, despite my best efforts.
Capitol police and January 6 participants had moved furniture around the complex. Yes, windows were broken. Notice that the statues honoring our national heroes were not vandalized, destroyed or decapitated. Their brass bodies didn’t fall on the marble floors below, cracking them. It is easy to imagine how many people would have remained if the election had not gone Democrats’ way.
Cheney’s descriptions went even further into melodrama. “The battle on January 6 was medieval, and was hand-to-hand combat.” One police officer I spoke to that night said that he was a veteran of Iraqi combat and had never seen anything similar to the fighting that Cheney witnessed that day.
Liz Cheney claims that she was also in a war zone just a few hours ago on January 6, 2021. This war zone was worse than the decades-long wars in Iraq and Afghanistan that her father, George W. Bush started, and which claimed the lives of over 7,000 American soldiers. More than 1,500 others returned home with one or several limbs missing. Over 30,000 suicides have been committed by U.S. veterans and service personnel in the war on terror. This number continues to rise every day.
Soon, it was time for the question and answer portion of the lecture. As is the norm for these types of events, many questions were not questions at all but lengthy comments on politics which ended with a “yes/no” that the student had answered.
Others took to the microphone to express their admiration for Cheney, not “normies” Republicans or squishy conservators but progressive Democrats. (To show how far the campus left has fallen to wash the feet Cheney openly and unapologetically.
However, two students had excellent questions. Nico Schmitz, a Pasadena junior, California student, stated that “you spoke about truth and standing up for your beliefs.” She then cited Cheney’s recent voting record regarding pro-life issues. This included her decision to not vote for the Women’s Health Protection Act, and her vote for the Right to Contraception Act. Schmitz asked, “I was curious if your position regarding abortion and your prolife stance have changed over the past few months. Maybe since breaking with the establishment.”
“My views have not changed on the subject. I’m pro-life. And I’m proudly, strongly, pro-life,” Cheney responded. She then referred to the fact she believes in exceptions, citing the recent Ohio rape victim of ten who had an abortion in Indiana. Cheney did not mention that the perpetrator in this horrible crime was an illegal alien. The congresswoman stated that the controversy surrounding Indiana was “shameful” and that larger debates around abortion are often rife with “vitriol.”
Shri Thakur, a newcomer, asked Cheney these questions:
Your first campaign was focused on traditional marriage and protections for religious institutions such as Catholic churches who object to same-sex marriage. Can you please explain why you voted for the Respect for Marriage Act? This codified the redefinition and definition of marriage and removed those conscience objections.
Cheney responded, “I strongly believe in religious freedom.” Cheney responded to loud applause, “I also believe freedom must be freedom for everyone.”
After the lecture was over, I contacted Thakur to find out his thoughts on Cheney’s answer. Cheney believes freedom is freedom for everyone, but Thakur said that freedom does not apply to January 6 defendants and Iraqi children.
Thakur continued, “But I’ll tell you this,” Thakur said. “[Cheney’s response] makes no sense. What is freedom for? The freedom to marry. That begs the question: What is marriage? She doesn’t know the answer to this question.
The audience gave Cheney an extended standing ovation after the lecture. There were only a few students behind me, Schmitz included. When I got outside, I inquired why they didn’t feel moved by Cheney’s speech.
Luke Thompson, a junior, stated that her speech “really demonstrated” why Trump is so loved by people.
Thompson said that she is part of the political elite and clearly flipped-flopped on major issues when it was politically convenient. Thompson said that Trump is a person who stands up for people’s beliefs and policy preferences rather than giving lip service. This is the exact opposite of what she did during Congress.
John Soza, a sophomore, stated that “It was just interesting how her refusal to address anything regarding the Russia investigation and how it related to accepting election outcomes.” She should be equally upset that 2016’s election results were not accepted by the liberals, if we are going to be consistent.
Junior Elizabeth Hale answered my question succinctly: “I can’t applaud those who vote against abortion.”
Munoz explained to me the reasons for Cheney’s visit to campus. Munoz stated that the Center for Citizenship and Constitutional Government hosts such events regularly to allow students and Notre Dame to have access to the best political minds and figures in the country. “As important and valuable as Liz Cheney’s lecture to the center, was the fact that our Tocqueville fellows hosted a lunch seminar with Congresswoman Tocqueville that was casually informal and more interpersonal.”
Munoz said, “Agree with Liz Cheney or disagree with her,” but “you can’t deny that Congresswoman Cheney has been a prominent fixture of Washington for the past half-century.” She is an expert on Washington and can help to shape the next diplomat or justice, senator, or perhaps president who receives their degree from Notre Dame.
TAC was contacted by Professor Matthew Hall, the director of the Rooney Center for the Study of American Democracy. He said that his message “echoed the core values we try to instill into our students–faith and patriotism and the willingness to stand for truth and democracy, even if it means making personal sacrifices.”
Hall personally found Cheney’s speech “extremely persuasive.”
Hall stated that he believes Trump is not the real threat to American democracy. He was not focusing on Trump the man but the “collective of ideas” Hall spoke of. Hall said that he supports conspiracy thinking over objective facts and hatred over equal respect and a cult for authoritarian personality over democratic process.
Munoz was a great host. While he was polite with Cheney, he wasn’t afraid of challenging her from the left. Munoz asked Munoz: “What would your answer be to conservatives?” He said, “Yes, I know Trump lacks character to be president. I don’t like him very much. He stood up to the woke mobs and the cultural elite. He also defends people who are traditional religious. He fought for us, and spoke up for us in a way that establishment Republicans cannot and will not do. ‘”
He replied to my email correspondence saying that Munoz had asked:
This highlights a crucial reality that is driving the current political climate. Things are worse today for large segments of the American people than they were 40 or 20 years ago. The GDP is not increasing at the same rate as wages. The life expectancy actually gets shorter. Many Americans are skeptical that their children will live longer than they did. Trump was able use that sentiment to his advantage in powerful ways. However, he used the oldest political trick: Blame people who are different.
“Well, that’d be a lot to them,” Cheney replied to Munoz’s question. She condescendingly cocked her head to the left, and folded her hands. The audience laughed and mocked these Trump supporters. Cheney stated, “There is nothing Christian or faithful about someone who allows violence to occur and refuses action to stop it.” (I also pray for the soul of her father.
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She continued, “The answer to wokeism must not be that conservatives torch Constitution.” We must be able maintain our fidelity the Constitution because it is our shield. If we abandon it because it doesn’t produce the desired outcome, we won’t have it as a shield in the face of threats to our First Amendment rights, Second Amendment rights, or any other rights that are protected under the Constitution.
Cheney thinks that the Constitution’s greatest product is our current regime. It is defined by a rotating door of political dynasties chosen by the party establishments. They fight on the stage for a rubber stamp, but they don’t differ much in policy. It ends and everyone is back together. There’s enough money, power, and influence for everyone.
To have true reverence for the Constitution, you must also kill the neoliberal political parties that have violated it. Donald Trump, Ted Cruz’s father, might be given some credit for the downfall the Kennedys. But Donald Trump is the most prolific destroyer of America’s dirty political dynasties. He was first the Bushes, then Clintons, and now the Cheneys.