Cheney in defiant floor speech: Trump on 'crusade to undermine our democracy'

Source: The Hill | May 11, 2021 | Cristina Marcos

Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) warned in a fiery floor speech on the eve of her expected ouster from House GOP leadership that the decision by many in her party to enable former President Trump’s falsehoods about his election loss risked undermining American democracy.

Cheney, who currently serves as chair of the House Republican Conference, made clear in her Tuesday night floor speech that she isn’t backing down against the former president, despite the expected cost to her political ambitions in the House.

“Every one of us who has sworn the oath must act to prevent the unraveling of our democracy. This is not about policy. This is not about partisanship. This is about our duty as Americans,” Cheney said.

“Remaining silent and ignoring the lie emboldens the liar,” Cheney continued. “I will not participate in that. I will not sit back and watch in silence while others lead our party down a path that abandons the rule of law, and joins the former president’s crusade to undermine our democracy.”

Cheney warned that the U.S. faces an unprecedented threat to its democratic process with Trump continuing to claim that President Biden was not legitimately elected.

She further warned that Trump’s actions threatened more violence like the Jan. 6 insurrection, when a mob of Trump supporters broke into the Capitol to try to stop Congress from certifying Biden’s Electoral College win.

“Today, we face a threat America has never seen before. A former president who provoked a violent attack on this Capitol in an effort to steal the election has resumed his aggressive effort to convince Americans that the election was stolen from him,” Cheney said. “He risks inciting further violence.”

“Our duty is clear. Every one of us who has sworn the oath must act to prevent the unraveling of our democracy,” Cheney said.

……..

Moments before Cheney rose to speak on Tuesday night, a group of House Republicans were delivering a series of speeches about “cancel culture,” lamenting what they see as an attack on the constitutional freedom of speech.

“My fellow Americans, we’re all in this together. We’re in this together. We can’t cancel each other. We can’t move people out the public square because we find their ideas even vile or distasteful. I may not like what you have to say. We may disagree on votes on this very floor. But the one thing I will always respect, the one thing I will always defend, is your ability to say and your ability to vote that way,” said Rep. Byron Donalds (R-Fla.).

Rep. Ken Buck (R-Colo.) then yielded time to Cheney.

“I know the topic is cancel culture. I have some thoughts about that,” Cheney said as she began her speech. “But tonight, I rise to discuss freedom and our constitutional duty to protect it.”

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    Read her full speech below:

    Thank you very much. I’d like to thank very much my friend, colleague, Mr. Buck, for yielding me time this evening.

    I know the topic, Mr. Speaker, is cancel culture; I have some thoughts about that, but tonight, I rise to discuss freedom and our constitutional duty to protect it.

    Mr. Speaker, I have been privileged to see firsthand how powerful and how fragile freedom is. 28 years ago, I stood outside a polling place, a schoolhouse in western Kenya. Soldiers had chased away people who were lined up to vote. A few hours later, they came streaming back in, risking further attack, undaunted in their determination to exercise their right to vote. In 1992, I sat across the table from a young mayor in … Russia. And I listened to him talk of his dream of liberating his nation from communism. Years later, for his dedication to the cause of freedom, Boris Nemtsov was assassinated by Vladimir Putin’s thugs. In Warsaw, in 1990, I listened to a young Polish woman tell me that her greatest fear was that people would forget. They would forget what it was like to live under Soviet domination. That they would forget the price of freedom. Three men, an immigrant who escaped Castro’s totalitarian regime, a young man who grew up behind the Iron Curtain and became his country’s minister of defense, and a dissident who spent years in the Soviet gulag have all told me it was the miracle of America, captured in the words of President Ronald Reagan, that inspired them. And I have seen the power of faith and freedom. I listened to Pope John Paul II speak to thousands in Nairobi in 1985. And 19 years later, I watched the same pope take my father’s hand, look in his eyes, and say God bless America.

    God has blessed America, Mr. Speaker. But our freedom only survives if we protect it. If we honor our oath, taken before God in this chamber, to support and defend the constitution. If we recognize threats to freedom when they arise.

    Today, we face a threat America has never seen before. A former president who provoked a violent attack on this Capitol in an effort to steal the election has resumed his aggressive effort to convince Americans that the election was stolen from him. He risks inciting further violence.

    Millions of Americans have been misled by the former president. They have heard only his words but not the truth. As he continues to undermine our democratic process, sowing seeds of doubt about whether democracy really works at all.

    I am a conservative Republican and the most conservative of conservative principles is reverence for the rule of law.

    The Electoral College has voted. More than 60 state and federal courts, including multiple judges the former president appointed, have rejected his claims.

    The Trump Department of Justice investigated the former president’s claims of widespread fraud and found no evidence to support them.

    The election is over.

    That is the rule of law.

    That is our constitutional process.

    Those who refuse to accept the rulings of our courts are at war with the Constitution.

    Our duty is clear. Every one of us who has sworn the oath must act to prevent the unraveling of our democracy.

    This is not about policy. This is not about partisanship. This is about our duty as Americans.

    Remaining silent and ignoring the lie emboldens the liar. I will not participate in that. I will not sit back and watch in silence while others lead our party down a path that abandons the rule of law and joins the former president’s crusade to undermine our democracy.

    As the party of Reagan, Republicans have championed democracy, won the cold war and defeated the Soviet communists. Today, America is on the cusp of another cold war. This time with communist China. Attacks against our democratic process and the rule of law empower our adversaries and feed communist propaganda that American democracy is a failure.

    We must speak the truth. Our election was not stolen and America has not failed.

    I received a message last week from a Gold Star father who said standing up for the truth honors all who gave all. We must all strive to be worthy of the sacrifice of those who have died for our freedom. They are the patriots Katharine Lee Bates described in the words of “America the Beautiful,” when she wrote, “oh beautiful for heroes proved in liberating strife, who more than self their country loved and mercy more than life.”

    Ultimately, Mr. Speaker, this is at the heart of what our oath requires: That we love our country more. That we love her so much that we will stand above politics to defend her. That we will do everything in our power to protect our Constitution and our freedom that has been paid for by the blood of so many.

    We must love America so much that we will never yield in her defense. That is our duty. Thank you.

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