Last night, Representative Liz Cheney (R-WY) joined Issue One founder and CEO Nick Penniman onstage in Jackson, Wyoming for an important conversation about democracy, the U.S. Constitution, and protecting our elections.
“I can tell you with absolute confidence that our democracy is fragile,” Rep. Cheney said at the start of a wide-ranging conversation about U.S. democracy and the challenges facing it today. “People have fought and they have died for this constitutional republic. And we cannot just throw it away because our politics don’t match the outcome of an election. We must not.”
The discussion touched on the ongoing efforts in our country to undermine confidence in our elections, the need to elect leaders who will uphold the rule of law, and action Congress can take now to strengthen our electoral process and restore public trust in our democratic institutions – from reauthorizing the Voting Rights Act to updating the Electoral Count Act and protecting our poll workers. “We can’t have a democracy if you’ve got half the public not feeling as if the government itself is legitimate,” Penniman said.
The bipartisan conversation highlighted the current divided state of our politics. “We must be able to have debates and discussions about substance and about issues where we disagree but we remember we’re not enemies,” Rep. Cheney stated.
To lessen political polarization, Rep. Cheney explained that it’s the American people who must step up and support those who will defend our Constitution. “At the end of the day, if we elect people who are willing to blow through the guardrails of democracy, the laws lose their power. And that’s why the most important thing we can do is elect good people,” she said.
Rep. Cheney also expressed concern over social media platforms “driving people” to “more and more radical places.” She added, “there has been a very dangerous move towards this sense… that violence is an accepted part of our political life. That can’t be. There are lines you can’t cross if you want to live in a republic.”
Penniman linked the current war in Ukraine to the global struggle between democracy and authoritarianism, expressing optimism that this moment in history could be a turning point for democracy worldwide. “There’s a big existential moment occurring right now globally in the history of democracy, and we’re all really engaged in it. And that in and of itself gives me tremendous hope.”
Presented by Issue One, the leading crosspartisan political reform group in Washington, D.C. uniting Republicans, Democrats, and independents in the movement to strengthen our democracy and fix our broken political system, the event was hosted by Jackson Hole’s Center for the Arts and co-moderated by former Teton County Commissioner Paul Vogelheim and Jackson Hole News&Guide columnist Paul Hansen.