Remember that scene in “The Princess Bride,” where Inigo Montoya questions Vizzini about his incessant use of the term “inconceivable.” An annoyed Montoya says: “You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.”
If Montoya were a real person living today, he might make a similar remark to Sen. John Thune (R-SD), who was the latest high-profile individual to use the term “cancel culture” to describe a situation that has nothing to do with cancelation.
The Associated Press reported that the senator defended Republican lawmakers who voted to convict former President Donald Trump during the second impeachment trial. “There was a strong case made,” said Thune, who voted to acquit the former president. “People could come to different conclusions. If we’re going to criticize the media and the left for cancel culture, we can’t be doing that ourselves.”
The senator made these remarks on Thursday in his first interview since the conclusion of the impeachment trial which saw Trump acquitted. He warned against getting rid of GOP lawmakers who vote their conscience.
Thune has seldom criticized Trump while he was in the Oval Office, but he did refer to the former president’s conduct after the election as “inexcusable.”
The senator only rarely criticized Trump while he was in office. But he called the former president’s actions after the election “inexcusable” and accused him of undermining the peaceful transfer of power. After the vote, Thune explained that he was concerned about the idea of “punishing a private citizen with the sole intent of disqualifying him from holding future office.”
The senator indicated that he planned to help GOP candidates “who don’t go off and talk about conspiracies and that sort of thing.” He praised Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY), who has been pilloried by conservatives for voting to impeach Trump. He stated that she does an “exceptional job on most issues.”
Cheney was censured by the Wyoming state Republican Party for her vote siding with House Democrats. The lawmaker is facing a primary challenge during the 2022 midterm elections and there are indications that she could be serving her final term in office due to her vote for impeachment.
Thune’s comments show that he, like many others, does not quite understand what cancel culture is and how it works. Campaigning against a member of Congress because they are not serving the will of their constituents is not cancel culture – it is simple politics. Cancel culture involves digging up old, or even recent, comments made on camera, in print, or on social media and using them to destroy one’s career.
Right now, the conservative movement, and by extension, the Republican Party, is locked in what will likely be a vicious civil war between the rank-and-file conservative movement and the establishment GOP elites. Both sides will be vying for control for the soul of the party and movement, and the victor will determine the nature of the right going forward.
It can be no surprise then, that we are seeing such a strong backlash against Cheney and other squishy GOP lawmakers who yearn for the days of the pre-Trump era. Pushing back against these individuals is not cancel culture, but it is a reckoning that is long overdue.