A 2024 ticket of former Vice President Mike Pence and Wyoming Rep. Liz Cheney might just be the thing that saves the Republican Party and our republic. Since Donald Trump’s descent on the golden escalator in 2015, there have been far too many missed offramps for Republican officials who did not want Trump to be the GOP presidential candidate in 2016. Next year might just be the last one of those offramps. A Pence-Cheney ticket would restore trust in America’s democratic institutions and begin the strengthening of the political party structure within the GOP.
Debating whether Trump’s popularity is waning within the party’s voter base is futile. Trump’s approval is not decreasing in any meaningful way and, for the purposes of this argument, it doesn’t really matter. This is about party elites finally taking back control of their party from their radical constituents. Will they do it? Probably not because they’re too afraid, but here’s an assertion for how and why they should.
The Republican Party elites and party bosses missed their window to take Trump out in 2016. It’s not that they didn’t know what would happen. Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina tweeted on May 3, 2016: “If we nominate Trump, we will get destroyed … and we will deserve it.” Graham had the foresight to know what would happen if the Republican base voter took control of the party.
Republicans deserve to be taught a lesson and be punished electorally for putting party over country, but that doesn’t seem likely. Many key statewide elections will undoubtedly go the GOP’s way in key gubernatorial and secretary of state races.
Republicans state that while they may not have liked Trump’s tweets, they liked his policies. A Pence-Cheney ticket would provide stable leadership along with traditional Republican values and policies.
On June 16, conservative Judge J. Michael Luttig testified before the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol insurrection, saying, “Donald Trump and his allies are a clear and present danger to American democracy. To this very day, the former president, his allies and supporters, pledge that in the presidential election of 2024, if the former president or his anointed successor … were to lose that election, that they would attempt to overturn that 2024 election in the same way that they attempted to overturn the 2020 election.”
While “a clear and present danger to American democracy” was the takeaway headline, what Luttig wrote in his written testimony was even more powerful for my argument. Luttig emphasized the Republican Party leadership’s “need to go first” in prioritizing the conservation of America’s democracy. “In order to end these wars that are draining the lifeblood from our country, a critical mass of our two parties’ political leaders is needed. This number needs to include a critical mass of leaders from the former president’s political party.”
Pence and Cheney are not particularly popular with the Trumpian base of Republican voters. That said, the Commonwealth of Virginia showed the rest of the Republican establishment the way to win with sane candidates. Virginia bypassed the traditional state-run Republican primary in 2021 and opted for an “unassembled convention.” By bypassing the primary, traditionalist conservative Glenn Youngkin won the Republican nomination for governor in Virginia and went on to beat Democratic candidate Terry McAuliffe.
Many consider Pence to have been too quiet during the Jan. 6 select committee hearings. I wanted him to testify. But the fact remains that despite enormous pressure while he was in office, Pence maintained his commitment to the oath he swore to the Constitution. I, for one, will be forever grateful for that.
Cheney also continues to reassert her allegiance to the Constitution. She told an audience during a Wyoming candidates’ debate: “We are now embracing a cult of personality. I won’t be part of that, and I will always stand for my oath and stand for the truth.”
All Americans, no matter their party affiliation, should demand that candidates seeking the highest office in the land put the Constitution and the rule of law above all.
Given the alternative of either Trump or Ron DeSantis versus Pence, there’s no contest in my view. Pence might not be a first choice, but he is a safe choice for our democracy.