The G.O.P.’s Big Cancellation – The New York Times

Mr. Potato Head is under siege.

So are the Muppets, baseball and Coca-Cola.

Even a horse fell victim. “It was like a cancel culture kind of thing,” the trainer of Medina Spirit told Fox News after the Kentucky Derby-winning horse failed a drug test.

In the Biden era, wailing about cancel culture has emerged as a major tenet of Trumpism, a defining principle of a Republican Party far more focused on fighting culture wars than promoting any kind of policy platform.

Yet in recent weeks, it has been Republicans who seem most focused on canceling ideas they don’t like. And on Wednesday morning, the G.O.P. cancel mob came for Liz Cheney.

After a defiant speech on Tuesday evening, she was purged from House Republican leadership for refusing to echo Donald Trump’s lies about the election and holding him responsible for the deadly riot on Jan. 6 at the Capitol.

It’s also slightly dizzying: As election experts told my colleague Maggie Astor for an article this week, it was the “fear of fraud” stoked by Republicans with their false claims of voter malfeasance that eroded public trust in the 2020 results.

And in a congressional hearing on Wednesday, Republicans cast the riot at the Capitol in January as little more than a normal day, rewriting what many of them personally witnessed while huddling for safety on the House floor. Several downplayed the violence of the day, describing the Trump supporters who attacked the complex as “peaceful patriots.”

“Watching the TV footage of those who entered the Capitol and walked through Statuary Hall, showed people in an orderly fashion in between the stanchions and ropes taking pictures,” Representative Andrew Clyde of Georgia said. “If you didn’t know the footage was from Jan. 6, you would actually think it was a normal tourist visit.”

Sure, an average tourist stop that involved violently crushing police officers, stealing historic property and urinating in Nancy Pelosi’s office.

There are plenty of reasons to believe that despite this effort to rewrite history, voters will not cancel Republicans at the polls in 2022. The party out of power typically picks up seats in a new president’s first midterm elections. Redistricting favors Republicans. And a number of House Democrats are opting against re-election bids, a sign of anxiety about their political prospects.

But internal strife is never good for a party’s re-election chances. Nor is staking your political brand on the pet issues of a former president whose never-all-that-healthy favorability ratings have slipped further since leaving office. Voters generally don’t respond well to lies that are easily disproved by video footage and their own memories of a national trauma.

The question that worries some Republican strategists as they look toward next year’s midterm elections is not whether the country agrees with their fears of cancellation.

It’s whether voters still believe in consequences.


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