At a recent commencement ceremony at Colorado College, Liz Cheney, a former United States Congresswoman, was met with quite a cold reception from the graduating class. As she took the podium to deliver the keynote speech, an array of disapproving gestures, including boos and graduates turning their backs to her, painted a vivid picture of discontent. This sight served as a poignant backdrop for Cheney’s address, which featured her steadfast critique of the former U.S. President, Donald Trump.
However, Cheney astutely sidestepped any speculation or conversation about the looming 2024 presidential election and refrained from sharing any insights into her own political trajectory. Cheney, a prominent member of the Wyoming Republican Party, utilized the platform to denounce her Republican counterparts in the House. She admonished them for their lackluster response to Trump’s consistent allegations of a ‘rigged’ 2020 election and appealed to the graduates to always stand by the truth.
A section of the audience voiced their displeasure through a vocal barrage and symbolic acts of defiance. One of the graduates sported a provocative message on their graduation cap, questioning the logic of lending an ear to someone they perceived as a “racist, imperialist, transphobic, warmonger.” The strongly worded message echoed the sentiment of many attendees, stating: “Your hate is loud.”
Since her departure from Congress in January, Cheney’s public addresses have consistently delved into a series of familiar themes. She often references her role in the House committee investigating the infamous January 6, 2021, Capitol attack and her staunch belief that Trump is a formidable ‘threat to democracy.’ Cheney’s recent address was no different.
During her address, Cheney brought up Cleta Mitchell, a former Trump adviser. Mitchell’s alleged forewarnings about the potential abuse of polling stations on college campuses during a Republican National Committee retreat were highlighted by Cheney. She stressed the imperative of voting as an instrument of resistance against those who allegedly strive to destabilize democratic institutions and the rule of law.
Cheney also drew upon her own college experience at Colorado College. A biblical verse inscribed in her alma mater that read, “Ye shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free” offered an insightful perspective into the moral dilemma she faced surrounding the 2020 election and the January 6 uprising. She shared her personal struggle of choosing between preserving her truth or her powerful position within the House leadership.
Serving three terms in Congress catapulted Cheney to the third highest leadership position within the GOP in the House, only for her to be deposed following her vote to impeach Trump. Post her exit from office, there has been ongoing speculation about her possible run for presidency in the 2024 GOP primary, a conjecture further fueled by her public speeches and her conspicuous stance against Trump.
While Cheney didn’t broach her political aspirations during the commencement speech, she has previously stated her uncertainty about vying for the presidency. Her relentless critique of Trump has gained her the attention of a network of national donors and Trump detractors who could potentially back her presidential run. A super PAC that supports her possible candidacy is already active and recently ran attack ads against Trump in New Hampshire.
After being replaced by a Trump-supported Republican and leaving Congress, Cheney was appointed as a professor at the University of Virginia. She also has a memoir, “Oath and Honor,” slated for release in November. Cheney continues to maintain a busy speaking schedule, with a forthcoming appearance at the Mackinac Policy Conference in Michigan. Whether any attendees will repeat the gesture of turning their backs on her remains to be seen.