Analysis by Chris Cillizza, CNN Editor-at-large
Updated: Mon, 03 May 2021 23:35:56 GMT
Ohio Republican Rep. Anthony Gonzalez hasn't been in Washington long, but he's been there long enough to understand his party is rotting from the inside out.
Asked by The Hill newspaper about efforts to remove Wyoming Rep. Liz Cheney from Republican Party leadership because of her vote to impeach former President Donald Trump, here's what Gonzalez said:
"If a prerequisite for leading our conference is continuing to lie to our voters, then Liz is not the best fit. Liz isn't going to lie to people. Liz is going to say what she believes. She's going to stand on principle. And if that's going to be distracting for folks, she's not the best fit. I wish that weren't the case."
Just to reiterate: This is a REPUBLICAN member of Congress elected in 2018 in the heart of the Trump era who is saying publicly that many in his party continue to lie to voters, while Cheney does not.
(Worth noting: Gonzalez and Cheney were two of the 10 House Republicans who voted to impeach Trump for his role in inciting the January 6 riot at the US Capitol.)
Now, Gonzalez didn't make clear what he believes Republicans are lying about, but it's pretty obvious that he's talking about the Big Lie -- the one Trump and his allies are pushing that the 2020 election was somehow fraudulent or stolen despite no proof or even evidence to back up that claim.
"The Fraudulent Presidential Election of 2020 will be, from this day forth, known as THE BIG LIE!" said that former President in a statement on Monday morning -- apropos of, seemingly, nothing.
What Gonzalez's quote lays bare is that admission to the current Republican Party is predicated on whether or not you believe a lie about the 2020 election.
If you say the election was stolen, contra evidence, or are willing to sit silently by while the 45th President and his allies make a series of false claims about 2020, you're good to go as an accepted member of the Republican Party.
If you won't lie about the election -- based on objective facts -- then you are booed or threatened with being thrown out of the GOP.
The Point: This isn't how political parties act. It's how cults (of personality) act.