Rep. Liz Cheney Delivers the Keynote Address of the Democracy Summit

On January 5, 2024The Rockefeller Center hosted former Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY) to deliver the keynote address of the Democracy Summit, a collaborative effort between the Dartmouth Political Union, the Dickey Center for International Understanding, and The Rockefeller Center. Cheney, who is also a Rockefeller Center Class of 1930 Fellow, addressed a large audience at the Hanover Inn about the importance of protecting democracy.

Cheney was introduced by Director of The Rockefeller Center, Jason Barabas '93, and Elizabeth Smith, Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences. Barabas named other Class of 1930 Fellows, including former Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-IL) and former Supreme Court Justices Stephen Breyer and Sandra Day O'Connor. Dean Smith praised Cheney's courage in recent years, noting that she showed bravery, "even when discerning ally from adversary became increasingly difficult."

Cheney began her remarks by touting bipartisanship, telling the audience that on January 6 she worked closely with now-Leader Hakeem Jeffries to keep a group of House members safe and informed. She noted that in a time of immense hardship, partisanship was thrust aside to prioritize safety and cooperation.

Cheney revisited her career at the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). She reminded the audience of "sacrifices for freedom" that have been made all around the world, specifically referencing Eastern Europe during the reign of the Soviet Union and protesters at Tiananmen Square in 1989.

Cheney went on to label the "challenge that [America] is facing today," referencing former President Trump's refusal to accept the outcome of the 2020 election and the events that followed. According to Cheney, the largest challenge we face as a nation is a "former president who tried to seize power."

Cheney acknowledged that she does not agree with Biden on much, but that the "threat posed by Biden" of "bad policy" is less than Trump's "assault on democracy." She imputed the issue of democratic erosion to the entire Republican Party. "Elected Republicans cannot be counted on to defend our Constitution," Cheney said.

To finish her remarks, Cheney pointed to the New Hampshire presidential primary. According to Cheney, the only ones who can stop Trump are "We The People," a reference to the preamble of the Constitution. She implored New Hampshire voters to "reject Trump in the primary."

In a moderated Q&A with Dartmouth Political Union president Jess Chiriboga '24, Cheney fielded questions about the 14th Amendment, the new Speaker, and immigration politics.

On the Fourteenth Amendment, Cheney noted that the legal process will "go through the courts" but that there is "no question in [her] mind" that Trump broke the amendment.

When asked about the current state of the House of Representatives, Cheney's former body, she declared, "we need to be concerned about a Mike Johnson speakership."

Cheney concluded by asserting that America has "a duty and obligation to do better."

The event was sponsored by The Nelson A. Rockefeller Center for Public Policy and the Social Sciences, the Dean of the Faculty of Arts & Sciences, the John Sloan Dickey Center for International Understanding, the Ethics Institute, and the Dartmouth Political Union (DPU).

By Varun Swaminathan '26, Rockefeller Center Student Assistant for Public Programs