Lewis: Stranger than fiction

Sometimes truth is stranger than fiction.

I write mystery and thriller novels. A good thriller hinges on an engaging and compelling story. The story cannot be ordinary; it must be entertaining, but most fiction writers know there are limits. The secret is creating a narrative that readers will view as bizarre, but still plausible. If I were writing a fictional story about the events of last week, specifically Liz Cheney’s primary election loss, it might go like this.

The luxurious living room is quiet except for the crackle of a fire in the large stone fireplace along the wall. A man is seated on the couch scrolling through his messages on his phone when a gray-haired man silently enters the room. They look at each other for a moment in silence and then they both smile.

“Did anyone see you?” the man on the couch asks.

“Of course not. I took the usual precautions” the other man replied.

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The two shake hands and then embrace. “I can’t believe it, but I think we’ve pulled it off,” said the gray-haired man. “

“Yup, we’ve successfully divided the Republican party so that, while I’m the only one that can win the Presidential primary, you will surely win the presidency,” said Donald Trump to Bernie Sanders ….

Fiction? Yes. Plausible? I think so. When Donald Trump lost the 2020 election, he responded as he did to any news not favorable to him. He said it was fake news. If he lost, the other side must have cheated. Regrettably, many of his core followers chose to believe this nonsense, which culminated in the first attempted coup since 1786.

While most congressional Republicans initially condemned the Jan. 6 insurrection and Trump’s involvement, they quickly came to understand that Trump’s core base was not going to move away from him and, if they wanted to keep their jobs, they would need to pretend to support the so-called “Big Lie.”

Fortunately, a few Republicans, like Liz Cheney, chose to put country and constitution over party politics and took a stand. They paid the price, however. Just two of the 10 Republicans that voted to impeach Trump will be on the general ballot in November.

Cheney and the many other Republicans like Mike Pence and state election officials that validated the legitimacy of the 2020 election are not “left-wing radicals” or “socialists.” They are lifelong conservatives who all likely voted for and supported Trump. This should not be a partisan thing. The simple fact, as stated by Trump’s head of homeland security, was that 2020 was the most secure election in US history.

Cheney summarized her views in her concession speech saying, “If we do not condemn the conspiracies and the lies, if we do not hold those responsible to account, we will be excusing this conduct, and it will become a feature of all elections. America will never be the same. … No American should support election deniers for any position of genuine responsibility, where their refusal to follow the rule of law will corrupt our future.”

With the current Trump litmus test for endorsing Republican candidates being that you must be an “election denier,” he is simultaneously fragmenting the Republican party and helping the Democrats. His efforts are widely viewed as helping the Democrats because the Republicans are fielding weaker candidates due to his endorsement influence.

The consequence is that more conservatives and independents will choose liberal candidates simply because they cannot support election deniers. By some estimates, Trump’s success with his endorsed candidates in the primary elections will actually give the Democrats 15 more seats in the House and Senate.

The end of this wild story has not yet been written and new twists will undoubtedly emerge, but one thing seems clear. If the Republican party continues down the path of exiling ardent conservatives like Liz Cheney, it is going to face a long hard road.

Sometimes truth is stranger than fiction.

If you want a break from reality, check out my new book “Snowcapped,” my debut thriller novel set here in the Vail Valley. It is available on Amazon and at the Bookworm in Edwards.

Mark Lewis, a Colorado native, had a long career in technology, including serving as the CEO of several tech companies. He retired from technology last year and is now writing thriller novels. Mark and his wife, Lisa, and their two Australian Shepherds — Kismet and Cowboy, reside in Edwards.

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