He’s in his office, in Washington D.C., thinking about his circumstances.
He’s not pleased.
The congressional hearings investigating the attack on the Capitol on January 6th are still going on. He wishes they would go away, but there they are, day after day.
Secretly – he hasn’t said a word about it to anyone – he wishes he’d had the guts that Liz Cheney has shown, taking a leading role in investigating Donald Trump’s role in the attack.
She is doing what she thinks needs to be done, not what her constituency wants her to do.
That’s the hard part, he thinks to himself. Going against your constituency.
‘It takes a certain kind of courage.’
‘The congressional investigation has uncovered enough, as if the facts themselves, as reported by the press at the time of the event, hadn’t been sufficient.’
‘Donald Trump had incited the crowd to march on the Capitol with the intention of disrupting the counting of the electoral ballots. Clearly an assault on democracy.’
Yet there he is, as Senator, sitting in his office, unable to say so.
A pang of shame fills him for a moment.
If he spoke out against Trump he’d face harsh criticism from his constituency. They would demand that he resign. And then, what would he do with his life?
All the attention he gets now would be gone.
No more ‘Senator, tell us about this, Senator, tell us about that…’ No more reporters chasing after him, photographers clicking their cameras, newspapers quoting him, lobbyists wanting his approval, trips here or there to investigate this or that, meetings with foreign leaders… and worst of all… losing the possibility of being picked for secretary of state or… dream of dreams… as a running mate for the presidency.
All he needs to do to keep those possibilities alive is to not criticize Trump.
All he needs is to simply keep lying to himself, repeating that on January 6th, Trump didn’t really incite his followers to march on capitol hill to disrupt the electoral ballot counting… that what he really was doing was asking his supporters to remind the ballot counters of their sacred duty to the country. Remind them to do the patriotic thing. But then things got out of hand.
‘But you cannot hang that on Trump,’ he repeats to himself.
‘The president would never, ever, try to disrupt the democratic process. Far from it, instead, Trump would offer his life to defend it. Because that’s who he is.’
The senator takes a deep breath. ‘It will blow over. I just have to wait it out. We all have to.’
‘I just don’t think I could live without all that attention I get every day.’
‘I’ll admit, it’s a little sad… to have become such attention junkie. But I would get very depressed if I didn’t have it. In a way, though, to have become so dependent on the opinions of my constituency is unsettling… I’m their mouthpiece.’
The thought of Liz Cheney comes to him again. ‘How can she do it? Surely, she won’t be reelected. So what will she do with her life?’
‘Hmm. Maybe, because of her willingness to disagree, she’ll get some nice offers to be a board member with some big companies. She’d get stock options and so forth. And she’d have that pride, that lasting satisfaction, that she’s made a name for herself. People might revile her, but they will remember her for her guts. That’s a nice way to be remembered.’
The Senator leans forward, rubs his face.
‘All is not lost. I could still change my mind.’
‘What makes matters worse is that I don’t think Trump will win the Republican nomination. There will be a big rift in the party and DeSantis will be chosen to run in 2024. But we won’t win the presidency, unless Biden screws up… but so far, unbelievably, he’s holding up.’
‘I don’t think we’ll win the presidency because Biden’s done a good job on the war in Ukraine… and I don’t think we’ll go into a recession… and if we do, it will be mild.’
The Senator stands up and goes to the window where he stands looking out.
‘But what if… I changed my mind and… came out in support of Liz Cheney?’
‘The phone wouldn’t stop ringing and right away Trump would endorse someone to run against me this Fall.’
‘My family would be all upset… but I’d explain and they’d settle down. I’d tell them that I have to do it for myself… for my self-respect. I’d figure out something to do with my time. It’s not like I haven’t earned a decent living before. And if, later on, I’d want to return to Washington, I’m sure I can find a job as a lobbyist.’
‘But do I have it in me to go against the pack?’
He looks out, a determined expression now coming to his face.
‘Deep inside, we’d all want to be like Liz Cheney… and maybe… just maybe… I’m due for a good fight in my life.’
Oscarvaldes.medium.com, apple podcasts