Political Animal

Want to Stem the Migration from Central America? There’s a Better Way.

The surge of migrants continues at America’s southern border. According to recent data, Customs and Border Protection has seen a staggering 71 percent increase in encounters since February alone and the U.N. announced that nearly 300 minors are entering Mexico every day in hopes of reaching the U.S. Many of these migrants make the treacherous journey to the U.S. when they confront violence, corruption, and lack of regular employment in their own country.

Our research has shown that the only sustainable way to fully address this crisis then, is to support and fund programs that address job growth, crime reduction, and corruption in Central America. In fact, Vice President Kamala Harris has an upcoming meeting with Guatemala’s President to discuss solutions to stem the tide, including direct cash payments to Central American countries. But just relying on these kinds of funding mechanisms is in many ways antiquated and not the right path forward.

To bring about real, lasting change across the globe, and address the root causes of migration from Central America, the Biden administration should change the way that we fund long-term development. One promising yet little discussed solution: start using endowment funding that can be game-changing for global security challenges while helping to reduce inequality. An endowment is a mechanism where money can be invested, so that income generated from that investment can be used for a specific purpose. USAID could establish individual endowments with partner organizations, so that there will be more sustainable funding sources for our global priorities.

Our current system of providing short-term grants is deeply flawed. These days, grants from the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and U.S. Department of State to non-profits, universities, and organizations are often issued for just two to three years. This funding comes with the expectation that the programs be sustained even after the USAID spigot is turned off. This ignores the reality that the political environment and context in countries may change, funds will dry up after the grant period, and the funding itself could change at any time during implementation.

Politics in the U.S. is making this type of investment even more challenging. In recent years, the inability of Democrats and Republicans to agree upon a national budget has led to government shutdowns and gaps in the ability to implement aid programs. COVID-19 has only exacerbated the efforts to fund for global development because of the safety and security of Americans abroad and at home. This is no way to do development work.

Universities, particularly those in the U.S., offer the Biden administration a new model.

The endowments for many U.S. universities continue to perform well in 2020. The pandemic positions universities as a key proponent of change and encouraging alumni donations for these global priorities. Let’s put these trends to work for the global good.

Congress should once again permit grants as endowments to organizations that do global development work, particularly U.S. universities. Regular grants get expended in a just few years. But it’s difficult to measure the impact of any program long-term when there is no funding left. On the other hand, endowments can generate income that can be used to sustain, measure, and fund new priorities in the future. Under the right conditions, endowments could also be managed by organizations in lower-middle-income economies to strengthen local stakeholders, either independently or in partnership with U.S. universities.

This approach is not new. Back in the 1990s, USAID had blanket authority to fund endowments, but only with local currency. That introduced new problems because when local currencies lost their value, USAID didn’t receive any reliable earnings to fund its work. But a simple change can avoid that issue altogether. Unfortunately, Congress removed USAID’s blanket endowment authority in the mid-1990s.

Today, USAID permits endowments on a case-by-case basis, which is what happened recently with the Promote Scholarship Program awarded to the Borlaug Institute at Texas A&M University. In the 2015 Congressional appropriation, USAID was given specific authority to fund scholarships for women in Afghanistan. The Promote Scholarship Program does precisely that and allowed Texas A&M to receive a substantial investment from the federal government. With the federal money, these endowments can work. In the last 15 years, the Texas A&M Foundation’s endowment fund has had an average 8.7 percent annual rate of return.

This could and should be a new tool for USAID and other entitles that already partner significantly with universities. If the endowments are used in the right context and with the requirement for good management and support of USAID purposes, it’s a win-win (there is no using endowment income for a new sports stadium). USAID gets university partners to work on more sustainable global development efforts to protect American security interests while generating university endowment income to run and evaluate the effectiveness of the programs long-term.

The Biden administration and Congress should reinstate the blanket authority, giving USAID and the State Department the power to issue endowments that fully serve the purpose of U.S. goals abroad.

Fighting the Big Grocery Monopoly

In March, the National Grocers Association (NGA), a trade association representing independent grocery stores, released a white paper detailing the ways dominant retailers abuse their market power over suppliers and marginalize small grocers. The pandemic exacerbated these abuses, the group argues, citing practices such as Big Box retailers demanding priority access to products in short supply, while smaller stores were frozen out. The group calls for enforcing antimonopoly laws, including the long-dormant Robinson-Patman Act, to address what it deems “economic discrimination.”

Passed in 1936, Robinson-Patman was intended to preserve the viability and diversity of smaller retailers by ensuring that the big chain stores did not engage in price discrimination and other unfair business practices. For example, it makes it illegal for suppliers to charge small retailers more than they charge the big chains for the same product.

The NGA argues that it is time to revive Robinson-Patman and other antimonopoly statutes. “The lack of antitrust enforcement has handicapped competition in the grocery sector and harmed American consumers,” said Chris Jones, NGA’s senior vice president of government relations. “Economic discrimination is, in fact, a problem that extends well beyond our industry … [We’re calling] on Congress and the federal government to modernize and enforce the antitrust laws.”

Smaller, family- or employee-owned grocery stores sell 25 percent of all groceries and play a unique role in the grocery market. According to the USDA, rural areas and low-income communities left behind by chain stores tend to rely more on these independent food retailers. New or local food suppliers may also get their start selling to independent grocers before growing into larger distribution, the NGA’s white paper argues.

While studies find that independent grocers can offer competitive or even lower prices on fresh produce compared to Big Box stores, their packaged goods tend to be more expensive. This partially stems from the fact the largest retailers, called “power buyers,” can negotiate price concessions from packaged goods manufacturers.

This discrepancy in buyer power has dramatically expanded with grocery consolidation. As recently as 1997, Americans bought 20 percent of all groceries from the top four retailers. By 2019, the top four retailers claimed 43 percent of all sales, with Walmart alone capturing 1 in every 4 dollars spent on groceries. Amazon’s online grocery sales also tripled during the pandemic, just as the e-commerce goliath expands its network of brick-and-mortar Amazon Fresh grocery stores.

At a certain point, suppliers feel pressure to accept less favorable terms or offer special perks to dominant buyers because they cannot afford to lose their business. These deals go beyond justifiable bulk discounts that reflect genuine savings from say, delivering an order large enough to fill a truck.

“The heart and soul of this whole issue of economic discrimination is the notion that corporations can win solely on the basis of their size, not by competing in a better way, but simply by being larger,” explains Stacy Mitchell, the co-director of the Institute for Local Self-Reliance. “The vast majority of the superior pricing and terms that Walmart is getting are a product of its muscle, not of superior efficiency.”

Both Mitchell and the NGA emphasized that independent grocers often join buying clubs to buy goods by the truckload, thereby creating efficient volumes for suppliers. But even then, they cannot get the same deals as Big Box stores with gatekeeper power. Suppliers need to be on Walmart’s shelves or Amazon’s marketplace to access customers; they don’t need to have a presence in a smattering of local shops in the same way.

“Under the threat of losing business from those power buyers, which in some cases have 35 to 40 percent or more of the manufacturer’s total sales, … those [suppliers] are being forced to their demands,” said David Smith, president of Associated Wholesale Grocers. “Because demand squeezes those suppliers, higher prices and less product availability are forced upon those that remain.” In other words, smaller grocers not only miss out on better deals, but they sometimes pay higher prices or receive worse treatment as manufacturers make up the difference of concessions made to power buyers.

For instance, in September 2020 during the middle of the pandemic and widespread product shortages, Walmart implemented a 3% cost-of-goods penalty on any supplier that did not deliver 98% of its order in full and on time. “This was at a time when overall industry service level inbound was only about 85%,” explained Smith. “So, if you are a supplier that can only provide 85% of what your customers are ordering and your most significant customer … demands 98%, where does that improvement come from? Well, we know that it amounts to a shortage to the others that are out there.”

Indeed, CNN reported this spring that smaller grocers still struggle to secure a sufficient supply of highly demanded products, including toilet paper, canned goods, and cleaning supplies.

“During the pandemic, providing for our friends and neighbors got even harder, because our larger competitors were illegally taking away our access to important stock items,” said Jimmy Wright, owner of Wright’s Market in Opelika, Ala. “Opelikans were forced to make an extra trip to the nearest big chain when they preferred to shop locally … and wanted to limit their trips to public places.”

Here, Wright alleges that this differential treatment of small stores by suppliers violates the long-unused Robinson-Patman Act. Under Robinson-Patman, suppliers cannot offer preferential prices or terms to dominant customers, unless they reflect a genuine difference in the cost of doing business with them.

But price discrimination persists because federal agencies have not enforced the law for decades. “The FTC and the DOJ quietly put [the Robinson-Patman Act] up on a shelf somewhere,” said Mitchell. “They overturned a law without involving Congress.”

Since the 1970s, a growing body of antitrust scholars have argued that the anti-discrimination statutes in Robinson-Patman are inefficient and prevent retailers from offering the lowest possible prices. In 2007, a congressionally chartered commission even recommended repealing the law entirely.

To be sure, even proponents of Robinson-Patman have acknowledged in congressional hearings over the years that the law contains critical ambiguities and should be improved. But the NGA argues that the low prices power buyers receive are “sub-competitive,” or below those that would exist in a competitive market, since they are set by domination, rather than fair negotiation. This ultimately harms grocery market competition by putting some stores at a disadvantage solely because of their size.

NGA’s report calls on Congress to investigate discriminatory and anti-competitive conduct in the grocery sector and to restore the original intent of the Robinson-Patman Act to make it enforceable again. “It has been almost 100 years since the last law was passed here, so it could need some updating in the long run,” said Jones.

As FDA Readies Menthol Cigarette Ban, What’s Next?

This spring, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) proposed a ban on menthol cigarettes.

The move was hailed as a boon to the health of Black smokers, 85 percent of whom use mentholated brands such as Kool, Newport, or Salem (which come in green packs to denote their minty flavor). In contrast, under a third of white smokers choose menthol, the rest preferring regular brands, such as Marlboro (so-called red packs). Given the difference in population size, there are more white menthol smokers than Black menthol smokers.

White and Black smokers are at risk from using cigarettes of any kind. But Black smokers are more likely to die from tobacco-related illnesses, such as cancer and heart disease, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) even though the 2019 smoking prevalence was virtually the same for whites (15.5 percent) and blacks (14.9 percent), perhaps owing to other health-related issues, such as lesser quality of care, and other factors.

“We’re being liberated from the harm of mentholated tobacco products,” said Delmonte Jefferson, executive director of The Center for Black Health & Equity. “It’s about time we prioritize the health and well-being of African Americans,” was the response of the NAACP to the proposed FDA ban.

“This is a major step forward in Saving Black Lives,” exclaimed the head of The African American Tobacco Control Leadership Council, which sued the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services last year to ban menthol.

Not every civil rights leader is a fan. According to the Washington Post, “the Rev. Al Sharpton, says it would be discriminatory to outlaw a product that is especially popular among African Americans.”

Yet there is strong consensus among public health experts that the ban will “reduce health disparities and promote health equity,“ as the FDA put it.

There’s reason to be wary of that claim, however, and to consider the possible unintended side effects of well-meaning regulation. First, attempts to improve public health by bans of widely used products – and addictive products, in particular – have a bad track record. The war on drugs and alcohol prohibition, which drove users into the arms of criminal dealers and unsafe markets with their riskier substances, stand as object lessons.

In reality, the enormous public health success of reduced smoking – now at an estimated 14 percent of U.S. adults (34.1 million “current smokers,” or 1 in 14 ) down from 20.9 percent in 2005 and down from 42 percent in 1964—did not come from cigarette bans or outlawing various forms of tobacco—snuff, chew, pipe, roll-your-own, etc.

The decline came not through bans, but through education, public persuasion, and policy nudges and changes, starting with a series of articles about research on the dangers of smoking published in the ‘50s in Readers’ Digest, the most read publication at the time. In 1964, the landmark report of the Surgeon General highlighted health risks, prominently cancer and heart disease. This was followed two years later by health warnings on cigarette packages. (Here are the nudges and changes.) The ‘70s saw restrictions on tobacco advertising on television and radio. Higher state and local taxes on cigarettes followed in the late 1980s as did a federal law banning smoking on domestic airlines. In the ‘90s, a massive lawsuit waged by 46 state attorneys general against tobacco companies led to the demise of “Joe Camel” and other ad campaigns, which were understood to be aimed at kids. And many states outlawed smoking in workplaces and restaurants starting in the mid-1990s.

The move to ban menthol-flavored tobacco products has been underway for at least three decades. In the late 1980s, the late U.S. Representative and civil rights leader John Lewis decried cigarette billboards in poor, inner cities and in 1990, George H.W. Bush’s Secretary of Health and Human Services Dr. Louis Sullivan condemned a new menthol brand from Reynolds called “Uptown,” which was being test-marketed in Philadelphia, as “slick and sinister.” As early as the 1950s, the tobacco industry advertised menthol brands, most notably Kool and Salem, in the Black press with the rise of African-American publications, such as Ebony and Jet.

Would a menthol ban be a fruitless effort to reduce smoking among menthol consumers, who represent the majority of Black smokers? We can’t be sure. Some fraction of menthol smokers will quit under pressure, some with the aid of nicotine patches or gum, estimated to help between six and 20 percent of smokers. After the European Union banned menthol last May, for example, eight percent had quit as of October. More optimistically, one in five Canadian menthol smokers quit between 2016 and 2017 after seven provinces instituted a menthol ban. That’s a not-insignificant figure, but still not enough to claim a public health victory.

But the remaining menthol users will either migrate to regular cigarettes, as many did following the Canadian ban, or MacGyver their own menthol smokes by putting regular cigarettes in a plastic bag with menthol flavor cards or adding menthol drops to the filter.

Others, finally, will douse their cravings by patronizing the underground mentholated market—a problem cited by the ACLU and other justice groups that oppose the ban, pointing to the case of Eric Garner, a black man from Staten Island who died in a police chokehold in 2014 while being arrested on suspicion of selling bootleg “loosie” cigarettes.

The second reason the ban is likely doomed is because it offers no alternatives. “You don’t start out forcing people to change unhealthy behaviors in such a radical way unless they know there are other, less hazardous options,” says David Sweanor, an adjunct professor of law at University of Ottawa and a veteran anti-smoking advocate. “Social justice and paternalism don’t mix.”

Sweanor makes a convincing argument. When it comes to menthol, smokers need more than a ban. They need to know about reduced-harm nicotine products that can help where gum and patches have failed.

Although nicotine is an addictive substance, it is considered otherwise safe when consumed by healthy people. Contrary to myth, cancer is not caused by nicotine but by the tars generated by combusted (burned) tobacco.

Briefly, reduced-harm nicotine products include electronic cigarettes, a battery-powered device that heats a flavored solution containing nicotine and converts it into an inhalable, or “vape-able,” aerosol. E-cigarettes are ninety to 95 percent less hazardous than cigarettes and currently undergoing the review process at the FDA. Concern about recruitment of young people to smoking is not borne out by data. In fact, youth smoking rates, which have been declining for decades, dropped more steeply in the years that teen vaping increased most, between 2013 and 2019, reaching a record low in 2020 of 4.6 percent.

Other such products include a form of FDA-sanctioned smokeless tobacco, “snus,” which comes in tiny packets that fit between the upper lip and gum. Unlike older forms of chewing tobacco and moist snuff, spit-less snus has very low-levels of tobacco-specific nitrosamines, the known carcinogen in traditional oral tobacco. In Sweden, where most of the men who use a tobacco product use snus, smoking deaths are significantly lower than in all other EU countries. The country has the lowest rate of lung cancer among men in the EU, and the risk of oral and head and neck cancers is negligible.

Zyn, pending FDA review, also comes in an oral pouch but contains pharmaceutical grade nicotine-containing material. There is no tobacco at all in Zyn.

Lastly, there are FDA-reviewed heat-not-burn devices, which are enormously popular in Japan as a safer alternative. The apparatus uses a blade to heat compressed tobacco that comes in the form of a stick that is inserted into a battery-powered device resembling a cigarette. Heat-not-burn products yield an average 90 percentreduction of 37 harmful and potentially harmful contaminants compared to standard cigarettes.

All these harm-reduction products come in menthol versions.

If menthol users felt empowered to switch to less harmful products, more would almost surely stop smoking cigarettes. The problem, however, is that high-profile public health agencies such as the Centers for the Disease Control and Prevention, as well as major anti-smoking organizations, including the American Lung Association, have downplayed or starkly misrepresented the comparative health benefits of such products.

As for the menthol ban, it is still years away because the FDA rulemaking process is so slow.

For now, let’s assume it’s headed toward approval and implementation. During that lag, public health agencies should be working overtime to educate menthol smokers about the relative-to-cigarettes benefits of reduced-harm products.

If menthol smokers became menthol vapers, menthol smokeless and Zyn users, or menthol heat-not-burn menthol users, a vast improvement in public health would be underway—one disproportionately favoring Black smokers. Complete abandonment of smoking entirely would yield better health outcomes but that’s not going to happen.

But there is another, overlooked element in the campaign against mentholated tobacco. Namely, how it fails to mention white smokers. While Black smokers appear to sustain greater mortality from smoking-related disorders as a group, whites represent the biggest afflicted population. Their absolute numbers exceed those of Black smokers.

True health “social justice,” therefore, would impel public health advocates to prohibit cigarettes altogether, not just menthol bans. But that is no more likely than a return to alcohol prohibition. Thanks to a landmark 2009 law that says that the FDA cannot ban cigarettes per se, the agency can only take incremental steps like this menthol ban.

This twist of regulatory fate means that menthol smokers will be given a powerful incentive that could actually get them to quit smoking cigarettes — but only if health agencies promote reduced-harm options like vaping through education campaigns rather than just assume menthol-deprived smokers will go cold turkey or quit with nicotine patches and gum.

Whether the menthol ban experiment succeeds or founders depends upon public health agencies spelling out—accurately and clearly—the relative risks of reduced-harm options versus traditional cigarettes. “Pragmatism will trump absolutism,” promises Sweanor.

Otherwise, menthol smokers, deprived of a product to which they are addicted, will scramble to get it elsewhere without being guided to safer nicotine alternatives. At worst, menthol smokers, Black and white, will endanger themselves. There is no social justice in that.

Liz Cheney Is Playing a Long Game Beyond 2024

Rep. Liz Cheney may be many things, but we are safe in assuming she is not stupid.

She must have known that fist bumping President Joe Biden, insisting Democrats are not the “sworn enemies” of Republicans and tweeting in all caps that “anyone who claims” the 2020 election was stolen is “spreading THE BIG LIE,” would cost her a House Republican leadership post and, by 2022, probably her House seat too.

Furthermore, as the offspring of the former vice president and ruthless bureaucratic warrior Dick Cheney, another safe assumption is that the congresswoman has an endgame. But what is it?

Two days before the fateful fist bump, Liz Cheney was asked by the New York Post if she would ever consider running for president. She responded, “I’m not ruling anything in or out—ever is a long time.”

If her plan is to run for president in 2024, we may want to reconsider the assumption that she is not stupid. All available data suggests the path for an anti-Trump politician in today’s Republican Party is imaginary.

Trump holds an 88 percent approval rating among Republican voters, according to an in-depth party analysis conducted in March by the Republican polling firm Fabrizio, Lee and Associates. Some 57 percent believe Trump should remain party leader. The same number would vote for him a presidential primary “no matter what.” Only 16 percent of Republicans would definitely vote for somebody else.

Cheney’s refusal to accept “The Big Lie” puts her squarely in the party minority. An April CNN poll determined that 70 percent of Republican voters believe “Biden did not legitimately win enough votes to win the presidency,” while an April Reuters/Ipsos poll found that 60 percent of Republicans think the 2020 election was stolen from Trump. There’s a reason why House Republicans are not interested in expending their political capital to defend her.

Besides, we’ve already seen people try to run against Trump in a presidential primary, and it wasn’t pretty. Try to think of Trump’s 2020 primary rivals without emulating Rick Perry’s most infamous moment (“Let’s see. What’s the third one there? … Oops!”).

Perhaps Cheney is interested in leading the nascent third-party effort being organized (or, to be more precise, threatened) by Miles Taylor, the former Trump administration official-turned-Trump-critic who wrote that anonymous book about Trump. Such a move would not be worthy of a political chessmaster. Cheney must know that most third-party efforts crash and burn. And those involved, according to the New York Times, appear to largely be Republicans who don’t hold current office and had already effectively purged themselves from the party. Such a group is more likely to shrink the Democrats’ big tent by depriving them of the right-leaning “Never Trump” vote, than becoming a major force of its own. While Cheney may not be concerned about the electoral prospects of Democrats, presumably she isn’t going through all this trouble just to splinter the Democratic vote and help Trumpian Republicans—possibly including Trump himself—regain power.

So what could Liz Cheney be thinking? I suspect the answer lies in the last five words of her statement to the New York Post: “ever is a long time.” The endgame is not winning in 2024, but winning control of the party after 2024.

Liz Cheney is the daughter of a man who served in high-ranking posts under Gerald Ford, George H. W. Bush, and George W. Bush. Surely she knows that parties are buffeted by events and change over time. And if events prompt the GOP to eventually turn away from Trump, the Republican who made the most prominent break with Trump would be uniquely positioned to lead the party.

Yes, the Trumpification of the Republican Party was brewing for a long time, going all the way back to the Nixon-era Southern Strategy. But let’s not forget: Just nine years ago, the party’s standard-bearer was Mitt Romney.

Today’s Republican Party is little more than a cult of personality. But how long can a cult of personality sustain, especially when the personality at the top is so widely unpopular? Last month’s NBC News poll pegged Trump’s favorability at 32 percent. (Even if Trump tends to underpoll by a few points because his supporters are less likely to participate in polls, that is an abysmal number.)

Parties can only lose so much before its rank-and-file members conclude, “the problem isn’t you, it’s me.” The experience of the Democrats in the 1980s and 1990s suggests a rule-of-three. To be beaten twice by Ronald Reagan in 1980 and 1984 could be excused by his unique charm. To beaten by charismatic Reagan and the awkward George H. W. Bush in 1988 convinced Democrats that they had their own internal problems to solve. So in 1992, exasperated primary voters were prepared to accept a moderate who breaks with liberal orthodoxy on welfare, the death penalty and the overall scope of government, and Bill Clinton met that moment.

Following other losing streaks in history, parties sought presidential nominees who could turn the page on their pasts. After losing five consecutive presidential elections to Franklin D. Roosevelt and Harry S. Truman over the course of the Great Depression and World War II, Republicans embraced the war hero Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower and reversed their fortunes with a nominee who had little interest on overturning the New Deal. Around the turn of the 20th century, Democrats lost the presidency twice in a row with the agrarian populist William Jennings Bryan, then tried the conservative Alton Parker and still lost, then lost again with Bryan, before finally succeeding in 1912 with the urbane progressive Woodrow Wilson.

Trump’s 2016 victory staved off a rule-of-three moment of reckoning for Republicans. But since then, Republicans have lost both chambers of Congress and the presidency. What if Republicans fail to take back Congress in the 2022 midterms? Then whiff in the 2024 presidential election? That would be a lot of losing to swallow. Would Republicans still let an unpopular Trump function as their de facto party boss? Maybe the cultish grip Trump has on Republicans is so tight, they don’t care if they lose. Or, they will keep storming the Capitol and denying reality after every defeat. However, history suggests losing parties eventually adapt to reality, for their own survival.

When the GOP is ready for reality, Cheney will be ready and waiting, because her defiant rejection of The Big Lie gives her the cleanest of breaks from Trump. Her actions are in stark contrast to former governor of New Jersey Chris Christie. He too has tried to distance himself from the insurrection. But he also said this month that he would give Trump an “overall” grade of “A.” Christie is straining to maintain some credibility with the party’s mainstream while also appealing to the anti-Trump minority. Cheney isn’t trying to blur any lines, and that may be to her benefit down the line.

The Atlantic’s Adam Serwer believes Cheney doesn’t deserve to be cleansed of Trump’s sins. Last week, he made the case that Cheney is not the antithesis of Trump, but the precursor, as she helped “build” the GOP “monster” over which Trump now presides. His case rests on Cheney’s scurrilous attacks against Obama-era Democrats for being soft of terrorism. Cheney “insisted that the president was secretly sympathetic to jihadists” and “launched a McCarthyite crusade against seven unnamed attorneys in the Obama-era Justice Department who had previously represented terrorism suspects.”

Serwer concludes that Cheney’s demagoguery and demonization “is the logic of the War on Terror, and also the logic of the party of Trump.” But drawing that connection between Cheney and Trump skips past the party’s ideological shift on foreign policy that widely separates the two.

Cheney is an old-fashioned conservative hawk who wants to treat Russia as an adversary. Trump is a quasi-isolationist promoter of “America First.” Cheney openly criticized Trump’s embrace of Putin. Last month, the pro-Trump website The Federalist charged Cheney with using reports of Russian bounties against American soldiers in Afghanistan—reports now treated by U.S. intelligence with “low to moderate confidence”—to “undermine Trump.”

The intra-party foreign policy divide is acutely relevant to understanding what’s driving Cheney’s actions. She was always uncomfortable with the direction Trump was taking the party internationally, and she wants to return the GOP to its late 20th century hawkish roots. Unless Biden takes an unexpected hawkish turn, expect Cheney to use her augmented media platform to swipe at Biden’s foreign policy in equal measure as she swipes at Trump’s mendacity.

This is why Democrats can’t get more excited about Cheney’s principled revolt; she is grounded in principles Democrats don’t share. In recent weeks she has argued against rejoining the Iran nuclear deal and against withdrawing troops from Afghanistan. Of course, Trump agreed with her on the Iran nuclear deal; his foreign policy vision was an ideologically inconsistent mix of “America First” isolationism and knee-jerk opposition to whatever Barack Obama did. But Cheney’s foreign policy views are deeply held and aggressively waged. She is unlikely to join with Democrats to stop Trumpism. She wants to unite her fellow hawks to stop Democrats and Trumpism.

But she must know she is in no position at present to lead an ideological army to win control of the GOP, let alone the White House. All she can do now is plant her flag, own her turf and wait until the moment is hers to seize—most likely after 2024.