90-year-old Alan Simpson is a harsh critic of his party. And Trump. He has that in common with Republican Liz Cheney.
Alan Simpson shows his medal. It is in the living room on the grand piano at his home in Cody, Northern Wyoming. It’s not just any medal, the Presidential Medal of Freedom. President Joe Biden hung it on him in the White House this summer. “Joe almost strangled me with it,” Simpson jokes. At the ceremony, Biden said Simpson is the “Big Guy”, the big guy, he never disappointed me.
Biden and Simpson sat in the Senate together for 18 years, until Simpson left in 1997. Now Biden has awarded him the highest civilian honor a president can bestow. A Democrat honoring a Republican. In a time of extreme political polarization, this is a scene from another time. And Alan Simpson is a Republican from another era.
“The Republican principles are simple: small state, low taxes, a government that stays out of our lives,” Simpson says. Alan Simpson is a «Big Guy», around two meters tall. He now walks bent over with sticks, his gaunt face full of mischievousness.
“The constitution guarantees everyone equal rights”
He swears a lot. Especially when he talks about what has become of the Republican Party. She does exactly what she shouldn’t do, meddling in people’s lives. “Republicans should mind their own damn business instead of interfering in the lives of women, gays and lesbians. They ignore that the constitution guarantees equal rights for all.”
Alan Simpson is for same-sex marriage, for abortion rights. Unlike many Republicans, who restrict or ban abortion in many states. The Republican Party has become a sect, with Donald Trump as its guru. Simpson voted for Trump in 2016, but no longer in 2020: “He’s vulgar, selfish, crazy. Shame on America.”
Trump is vulgar, selfish, crazy. A shame for America.
Alan Simpson also supports the daughter of an old companion because of Trump. Liz Cheney, a Republican, the sole representative in the House of Representatives from tiny Wyoming and the daughter of Dick Cheney, a former Vice President.
“Liz Cheney was deeply hurt when these idiots stormed the Capitol and wanted to tear down this beautiful temple. This was a shameless attack on our institutions. To democracy. Liz said to herself I’m bringing down Trump, I want him never to come back to the White House.”
Cast out by the Republicans
In her own party, Cheney is conservative through and through, an outcast. In her state of Wyoming, Trump twice got 70 percent of the vote. And a candidate supported by Trump is challenging Cheney for her seat in the House of Representatives.
Even Alan Simpson admits that Cheney’s chances are slim: “The whole world will say, look, Cheney lost by 15 percent. But that doesn’t matter. She will immediately throw herself back into the fray outside of Congress. She’s like a coyote chasing a mad wolf. She bites and knocks him down.”
Cheney is like a coyote chasing a mad wolf. She bites and brings him down.
He has a gut feeling, says Simpson at the end. Trump will never be president again, even if he runs again. The certainty with which he says it probably has something to do with his trust in Liz Cheney. Like him, a Republican who no longer really wants to fit into this era.