Cheney slams ‘performance politics’ at Jackson conference on Tuesday
By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily
U.S. Representative Liz Cheney on Tuesday criticized her congressional colleagues for seeming more interested in drawing attention to themselves than solving problems.
Cheney, speaking at an apolitical U.S. election discussion in Jackson, blamed partisan splits in Congress in part on politicians putting on a show.
“Performance politics is a huge issue, where members attend these hearings because they know the video cameras are on C-SPAN,” she said. “They know the one-and-a-half-minute music video they want out of it that they can put on Twitter and then they can blaze on the other side.”
Civility was a major topic of conversation at Tuesday’s meeting attended by both Democrats and Republicans as well as supporters of Cheney and Harriet Hageman, one of his challengers in the GOP primary for the Wyoming’s only seat in the United States House.
One of the biggest problems encouraging performative politics, Cheney said, is that it succeeds, at least financially. Members of Congress spend much of their time fundraising for re-election, and by making waves online, politicians can bring in more donations.
“You look at some of the political fundraising memos that come out these days, and they’re just awful, things you would never say to a person’s face,” Cheney said. “But you tell hundreds of thousands of people as a congressman to get them to open their wallets and give you $25.
“It’s the people who play the game, the people who see how many ‘likes’ they can get on social media, the people who raise money for the outrageous things they’ve said and done, those people get a lot of reinforcement, ”she continued. “It must be our job to empower others (members of Congress).”
There’s immense pressure among Democrats and Republicans to avoid working together in Congress as they always strategize to get more people elected to their side of the aisle, Cheney said.
“The people you’re likely to work with are often the people across the aisle who are the most vulnerable members, they might represent swing neighborhoods and that’s why you might have issues in common with them,” she said. “Leaders on both sides tell members, ‘Don’t work with these people. We want our guy to be re-elected or elected. So there are all kinds of incentives against working together.
Cheney noted that partisanship and vitriol in Congress are not new to the United States. But she added that she still feels it’s important to encourage civility between Democrats and Republicans.
She also said that whether Democrats or Republicans, elected officials should always reflect on the importance of taking their role seriously as they face “serious issues”. She also urged voters to elect “serious people” to these positions.
“They must be worthy of the responsibility and the obligation to govern in this republic, and they must be equal to the tasks and the challenges that we face,” Cheney said. “So when you’re voting, when you’re thinking who to vote for, one of the most important things for us is getting serious people. There are a lot of people, too many people, in Congress today from both sides of the aisle who aren’t serious, who don’t do their homework and who treat politics like it’s a game.”
Additionally, she said that as an elected official, she does not have the right to choose which parts of the US Constitution she likes and dislikes, and which parts she will defend and which parts she will not defend.
“If I don’t defend the 12th Amendment, if I don’t defend the plain meaning of the text of the 12th Amendment, then how can I defend the First Amendment? And how can I defend the second amendment? ” she says. “The Constitution is our shield. And when you think about what that means and the responsibility that we all have, I think it’s really important for us to recognize that we won’t have substantive and policy debates if we abandon the Constitution .