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Schmidt: Cheney's 10 crucial qualities

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If Wyoming voters think of elections as job interviews and candidates as employees or potential employees, hopefully they will come to the conclusion that Rep. Liz Cheney is one of the “good ones.”

Ethicist Dr. Bruce Weinstein, aka The Ethics Guy, describes 10 crucial qualities of high-character employees in his book “The Good Ones.” Weinstein defines character as “the most important qualities that define a person. It is revealed not by words but by actions.” The 10 crucial qualities of high-character employees are honesty, accountability, care, courage, fairness, gratitude, humility, loyalty, patience and presence. Cheney exemplifies all 10, making her a “good one.”

Weinstein states that honesty is the most important quality of all, and that is why it leads the list. People who are honest have a passion for the truth. “Falsehood in all its forms is a poison to an honest person.” Cheney has been a vocal advocate for the truth and has been relentless in pushing against the dishonest claims of election fraud during the 2020 election. She clearly understands that events of Jan. 6 were a result of the countless lies that were told to the Republican electorate. In a speech the night before she was removed from her leadership position, Cheney spoke on the House floor exclaiming “Millions of Americans have been misled by the former president. They hear his words but not the truth. This is not about policy. This is not about partisanship. This is about our duty as Americans. Remaining silent and ignoring the lie emboldens the liar. I will not participate in that.” Clearly, Cheney knows that the big lie of election fraud is a toxin to our democracy.

According to Weinstein, there are four elements of accountability: keeping promises, considering consequences, taking responsibility seriously and making amends for mistakes. Recently, Cheney told CNN’s Jake Tapper that if she has to choose between keeping her seat in Congress or being honest about Jan. 6 “I’m going to choose the Constitution and the truth every single day.” Cheney has taken her responsibility as vice chair of the Select Committee to Investigate the Jan. 6 Attack on the U.S. Capitol earnestly and fully understands that the consequence is the likely loss of her seat in Congress.

Caring employees view themselves as servants. Cheney is a public servant who has been willing to place her service to the country over political party. This is the kind of duty that the residents of Wyoming and Americans alike can be proud of.

There is an example in “The Good Ones” where Weinstein describes an employee with courage. He writes “She had the moral strength—the courage—to risk her job, reputation, and valued relationships to stand up to the wrongdoing she saw.” If this doesn’t describe Cheney and her courage, then I don’t know what does. Cheney has put her career, her relationships with colleagues and even the safety and wellbeing of herself and her family in peril. All for doing the right thing.

Fairness, in Weinstein’s employee context, is giving others their due. That is difficult to assess for this purpose but I can appreciate the way the committee has worked in a bipartisan way. Unfortunately, bipartisanship has become a four-letter word. Perhaps Cheney can show Americans that it can be done and in a positive way.

Gratitude and humility are closely connected. If humility is the awareness of how we depend on others to get things done, then gratitude is the ability to acknowledge that in one another.

Cheney seems to have a strong understanding that Americans are all in this together and that by being united we are stronger than when we are divided.

Cheney’s loyalty to the Constitution over a flawed, solitary man is what will likely cost her seat in Congress. Weinstein writes “Loyalty means aligning one’s behavior with the organization’s values for however long one is employed.” The organizational values for a member of Congress is the Constitution itself. Our country was born in pursuit of freedom from tyranny and control by one man. Fealty to the Constitution should be the only requirement for someone with the desire to hold office described in Article I.

Patience and presence are also related. Cheney appears to have patience and understands that the fight to restore the democratic values and against the right’s lean towards authoritarianism is a long game. Presence is a commitment to doing one’s work by focusing on a single task for a reasonable amount of time. As her father, Vice President Dick Cheney said in a recent ad, “Liz is fearless. She never backs down from a fight.”

I hope voters in Wyoming will look at the list of the 10 qualities of a high-character individual and consider whether a candidate has shown these qualities in action. Rep. Liz Cheney certainly has and that is what makes her a “good one.” And hopefully a good one to vote for.

Lynn Schmidt is a freelance columnist and editorial board member with the St. Louis Post-Dispatch in St. Louis, Missouri.

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