Nearly 75 years ago, George Orwell pointed out the mind-bending use of language by authoritarian regimes in his classic novel 1984. The Republican Party long has gone Orwellian.

Republican members of the House, with the blessings of Big Brother, aka Donald Trump, purged Liz Cheney from her number-three post as conference chair. Minority leader Kevin McCarthy (California) “lost confidence” in Cheney because she detracts from the party’s unity. Orwell alert!

For Republicans, unity demands speaking with one—and only one—voice. TruthConscienceDuty? Code words for propagandalicense and blind ambition.

Unity serves as a cover for cannibalism.

To keep the party moving backward, Trump wannabes, seeking approval from the Trump base, are gobbling up their own. Liz Cheney’s great crime? Speaking out against Trump’s lying about the 2020 election being stolen. 
Eviscerating the concept of truth, McCarthy said, “And unlike the left, we embrace free thought and debate.” Translation: everyone’s “thinking” must conform.

Many columnists in the New York Times, all anti-Trump, took the opportunity to pillar Cheney—not because she protested false claims of election fraud, but because she is, without question, a far-right conservative.

Charles Blow cited her refusal to condemn birthers and torture by the CIA. Frank Bruni called her “a wretched opportunist” running a “smart long-term play.” Maureen Dowd emphasized, “From her patronage perch in the State Department during the Bush-Cheney years, she bolstered her father’s [V.P. Dick Cheney’s] trumped-up case for an invasion of Iraq.”

Their politics—and mine—don’t align with Liz Cheney’s. For that matter, Cheney is up for reelection in 2022, and Wyoming conservatives are up in arms. We’ll see if she can retain her seat. But the here-and-now demands some measure of respect for the stand she’s taking.

In a Tuesday-night speech on a near-empty House floor, Cheney reiterated, “Remaining silent and ignoring the lie emboldens the liar.” The Times’ Catie Edmondson called Cheney’s remarks “extraordinary.” CNN hailed her as “a profile in courage.”

Few Congressional Republicans stand with Cheney. Illinois Representative Adam Kinzinger is one. According to Kinzinger, “she doesn’t dance around; she just says the election wasn’t stolen, Biden was president, and Jan. 6 was a Trump-inspired insurrection.”

With Cheney stripped of her position—Elise Stefanik, New York, takes over—will GOP knives seek to carve up Kinzinger for another political barbecue? And who after that? Trump and his stooges seek to cow every member of the party. Dissent will not be tolerated. Lemming-like, GOP office holders and hopefuls commit themselves to a kind of re-education camp for which authoritarian governments have been known. 

A certain segment of Republicans may find comfort in having Dear Leader tell them what to think. Applying our minds to complex issues takes lots of energy and doesn’t always produce the results we’d like. I wonder how many Trump followers secretly envy the people of North Korea who fall into line or perish?

“History is watching,” Cheney wrote in a Washington Post op-ed piece last week. Aware of this, a number of former Republican party and government officials are considering starting a new party. 

Meanwhile, Trumpists promote unity as a smokescreen behind which to devour the GOP as a party that has anything to give to the nation besides heartburn. 

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My short story “Mirror, Mirror” has just been published in the spring issue of Avalon Literary Review. Order a print copy of PDF.


  1. Sandy Lipkowitz on May 15, 2021 at 6:35 pm

    Not a Liz Cheney fan because of many of her right wing stands. However we live in a country that, until the last 4 years, welcomed debate. I wish I could vote in Wyoming. I have tremendous respect for Liz in her commitment to the constitution and to truth. I’ll do whatever I can to support her reelection. We need that kind of republican voice.

    • David Perlstein on May 16, 2021 at 11:56 am

      As you know, Sandy, some/many people who disagree with Cheney’s politics let that get in the way of this particular issue. It gets hard to find people who can separate one issue from another, look at things with a bit of perspective and focus on what’s important at the moment.

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