Why Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger Shouldn’t Become The Face Of Moderate Conservatism

Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger being right on one thing doesn’t mean we should praise them.

Photo Courtesy / YouTube PBS NewsHour

The riot and insurrection that occurred on Jan. 6, 2021 at the United States Capitol was horrific. Full stop. Political violence of all stripes is bad and should be broadly condemned, as it was. The ideas behind the riots, that the 2020 election was stolen, have been dutifully debunked through Republican-led investigations in states like Arizona and Georgia.

Illinois representative, Adam Kinzinger, and Wyoming’s sole representative, Liz Cheney – also the daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney – have gained broader appeal through their denunciation of violence on Jan. 6 and the lies surrounding a stolen election. They are both Republicans, the same party as former President Trump, making their views significant. 

Their moves have resulted in the end of their careers as lawmakers. Cheney suffered an overwhelming defeat in her primary election in Wyoming and Kinzinger has decided against running for re-election.

But worse conservative representatives supporting anti-election conspiracies could not possibly be chosen. It’s not that they have no conservative positions, it’s that their attitudes towards war and foreign policy are reminiscent of a past political era better left forgotten .

First, recall Liz Cheney in an interview with “60 Minutes’” Lesley Stahl, saying that waterboarding “is not torture.” Viewers can find that quote at around eight minutes and 40 seconds into the video. 

Waterboarding, as defined by Merriam-Webster is “an interrogation technique usually regarded as a form of torture in which water is forced into a detainee’s mouth and nose so as to induce the sensation of drowning.”

When someone needs to argue with the dictionary over the definition of a word, they’re already losing.

Cheney is in lock-step with war mongers who claim that our presence in Afghanistan was essential to keeping the Taliban out of power. You might recall that last summer that exact scenario became a reality when American troops exited, especially the chaotic scenes of people clinging to aircraft and the tragic deaths of 13 service members at the Kabul airport. But what becomes even more obvious is that the one thing that, maybe, could have prevented that was perpetual deployment. 

Washington Post columnist and foreign policy author Max Boot gives his definition of perpetual deployment in the Seattle Times’ opinion pages:

“We need to think of these deployments in much the same way we thought of our Indian Wars, which lasted roughly 300 years,” writes Boot. “U.S. troops are not undertaking a conventional combat assignment. They are policing the frontiers of the Pax Americana.”

No, Boot and Cheney are not Star Wars villains. Neither have been deployed on a combat mission as a member of the armed services before.

Kinzinger, on the other hand, is currently a member of the Wisconsin Air National Guard as a lieutenant colonel. While Kinzinger’s service demands respect, he breaks with fellow outgoing Republican congressman from Michigan and fellow Iraq veteran, Peter Meijer. 

“I think we need to be expanding our mission [in Afghanistan]. I think it needs to be more in bed with the [Afghanistan National Army],” said Kinzinger at a panel hosted by the Wilson Center on the war in Afghanistan. ”I think there need to be more military strikes and looser rules of engagement. I think our NATO partners need looser rules of engagement, too.”

The threat that extremists in Afghanistan and Iraq pose to Americans does not even remotely mirror that of the Soviet Union, which did require that type of posturing. The Taliban will not be pointing missiles off the gulf coast any time soon.

A Brown University study conducted in 2021 estimated that the total cost of the war on terror had a death toll of nearly one million people and a price tag of nearly $8 trillion. An ideology that values fiscal responsibility and believes in a right to life should not endorse reckless adventures. 

While Meijer joined 49 fellow Republicans in 2021 in repealing the use of force authorization against Iraq, Kinzinger voted against it. Meijer wasn’t afraid of staying true to his principles and voted to impeach former President Trump over the riot on January 6th. 

Meijer lost his primary election, some believe, over this decision, allowing Trump-endorsed John Gibbs to beat him. This is a massive loss, but shouldn’t be discouraging.

It should show that, contrary to desperate Democratic party midterm election rhetoric, someone that believed in the ideals of limited government, free enterprise and valuing tradition can hold office, while simultaneously finding election conspiracies on both sides silly and rejecting the idea that we need to be the world police. Agree with the underlying ideals or not, this is a model to emulate for a healthy American political right.