Former President Donald Trump is "dynamiting the very foundation of the American democracy" with his continued outcry against the results of the 2020 election, and the real question isn't what the future holds for Rep. Liz Cheney but what will happen to the party itself," Linda Chavez, a Reagan-era administration official, said Thursday.
"You cannot have a democracy unless you have people who vote and accept the results of the election," Chavez, a former White House Office of Public Liaison director, said on CNN's "New Day." "(Trump) has taken a big stick of dynamite and blown that up and I think the rubble is going to end up falling on the Republican Party."
Further, Chavez said, Trump's insistence that the 2020 election results are a "big lie" that allowed President Joe Biden to take office may well lead to the "death knell of the Republican Party."
"This is not the party I joined in the 1980s because of Ronald Reagan," Chavez said. She noted that she's now registered as an independent, but votes Republican, mainly on the state and local levels.
Several House Republicans are pushing to oust Cheney, R-Wyo., from her leadership post as chair of the House Republican Conference because of her rejection of Trump's claims about his defeat and after she voted in favor of impeaching him.
The congresswoman, in a strongly worded opinion piece for The Washington Post Wednesday, said that Trump's message that he is "still the rightful president" and Biden is "illegitimate" is being repeated "with full knowledge that exactly this type of language provoked violence on Jan. 6."
She also called for a bipartisan panel, with no sitting members of Congress involved, to investigate the Jan. 6 events at the Capitol, and on her fellow party members to "stand for genuinely conservative principles, and steer away from the dangerous and anti-democratic Trump cult of personality."
Meanwhile, Chavez said she does think there was a moment, after the Jan. 6 events, when Republicans could have joined forces and pushed Trump away from his party influence.
"(They) could have rejected President Trump, could have basically sent him off to Mar-a-Lago, never to be heard from again in any meaningful way," she said. "They chose not to do so. It's very hard to understand why."
Trump's popularity "would have waned" had members of Congress pushed him aside rather than continued to support him, Chavez added, even though he "never represented conservatives."
"He was a populist," she said. "He was about Donald Trump. Whatever policy he thought could improve his standings in the polls, that's what he took. Conservatism has been, as Liz Cheney suggested, certain principles, smaller government, lower taxes, fiscal responsibility, and a devotion to the rule of law."
First and foremost in that law is "acceptance about the results of elections," said Chavez, adding that if the party continues to back Trump and his claims that the election was stolen, "they do not have a longtime future ... he's just a sore loser, and they need to start calling him that."
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