Thistlethwaite: A true conservative who tells the truth
I see the notice that the Vail Daily is “seeking a conservative political columnist” is still running in the paper.
Why not Liz Cheney? She is likely to lose her seat in Congress because she insists on telling the truth, and she will have some time.
I disagree with Rep. Cheney on practically every issue from her cutting taxes and regulation to “create jobs” (trickle-down economics), expanding “America’s energy” (oil and gas endangering the environment), and “restoring America’s strength and power in the world” (expanding the military as an alternative to negotiation).
But I have come to respect her for what is, tragically, a rare Republican trait these days: Cheney tells the truth.
In her opening statement at the Jan. 6 Select Committee’s initial public hearing, she refused to pull her punches, summarizing the actual evidence the committee would show the nation about Donald Trump’s role in the seditious attack on the nation’s Capitol.
Over and over Rep. Cheney drove home the key points, that “those who invaded our Capitol and battled law enforcement for hours were motivated by what President Trump had told them: that the election was stolen, and that he was the rightful President. “President Trump summoned the mob, assembled the mob, and lit the flame of this attack,” Cheney said.
I think “Trump summoned the mob, assembled the mob, and lit the flame of the attack” is the clearest summary of what the Jan. 6 attack was all about. It was mob violence instigated by a corrupt president and his enablers who refused to respect democratic election processes.
Rep. Cheney (and clearly the committee) have gone directly at what has come to be called “The Big Lie,” that Trump had actually won the election.
“[Y]ou will see that Donald Trump and his advisors knew that he had, in fact, lost the election. But, despite this, President Trump engaged in a massive effort to spread false and fraudulent information — to convince huge portions of the U.S. population that fraud had stolen the election from him. This was not true.”
“This was not true.” There you have it. One Republican among a handful who is telling the truth without apology.
And for the rest? Rep. Cheney spoke to them in words I honestly believe will be taught in American history books for generations to come:
“I say this to my Republican colleagues who are defending the indefensible,” she said at Thursday night’s opening hearing. “There will come a day when Donald Trump is gone, but your dishonor will remain.”
Truth versus falsehood. Honor versus dishonor. Clarity versus double-speak.
I would read a conservative columnist who stands for truth, honor and clarity. I would likely disagree on many points, but I would read and think.
My parents were very active in Republican political circles as I was growing up. Their Republican party no longer exists, in my opinion. It has been given over to the “mob.” The fueling and feeding of the mob’s hatreds and prejudices has overwhelmed any serious policy initiatives.
John Dean famously told President Nixon that there was a “cancer” on his presidency. See the “Secret White House Tapes.”
Today, we have a “cancer” in the body politic. A dangerous, self-replicating, destructive force that is eating away at our democratic norms. Allowed to proceed unchecked, it will kill our democracy.
The Jan. 6 Select Committee is doing its very best to bring the surgical light of day to bear on this cancer and it is succeeding far beyond what I expected. But the light must be shared state to state, county to county, town to town. The destructive forces are out there and they spread.
I hope you will share this light. I know I will.
Here is something of which I am very proud as an American: these hearings are being televised for the whole country and the whole world to see. Where else might that be able to happen? Not in many places around the world.
That Jan. 6 Select Committee’s hearings are the best of democracy.
Rev. Dr. Susan Brooks Thistlethwaite is president emerita and professor emerita of Chicago Theological Seminary. She and her husband now make their home in the Vail Valley.