Republican Joni Ernst accuses party of cancel culture over Liz Cheney ousting – The Guardian

The only woman in Republican Senate leadership complained about cancel culture on Monday, regarding the imminent removal of Liz Cheney, the only woman in Republican House leadership, because she opposes Donald Trump’s big lie that the presidential election was stolen.

The Iowa senator Joni Ernst told reporters: “I feel it’s OK to go ahead and express what you feel is right to express and, you know, cancel culture is cancel culture no matter how you look at it.

“Unfortunately, I think there are those that are trying to silence others in the party.”

“Cancel culture” has become a shibboleth of the modern Republican party, repeatedly invoked when public figures become embroiled in controversy regarding opinions or statements deemed to be racist, sexist or otherwise unacceptable.

On Monday, the trainer of the horse that won the Kentucky Derby but then returned a positive drugs test claimed to be a victim of cancel culture himself.

Cheney, of Wyoming, is expected to lose her No3 leadership role in a closed vote on Wednesday, to be replaced by Elise Stefanik of New York.

Cheney is a hardline conservative but has rejected Trump’s lie that Joe Biden won the White House through mass electoral fraud. She was one of 10 House Republicans to vote for his impeachment over the Capitol riot of 6 January.

Stefanik voted against the impeachment. She also objected to electoral results from Pennsylvania, one of the states challenged by Republicans in service of Trump’s lie.

CNN reported that Cheney thinks the party is suffering from “collective amnesia” and fear of Trump.

Ernst said she supported Trump and his policies, “but I still think we shouldn’t be trying to cancel voices. What we can do is come together and try to win seats in 2022. I think that’s what all of us should be focused on.”

House minority leader Kevin McCarthy has calculated that capitulating to Trump, as has most of the party, is his best path to winning the House in the midterm elections next year.

There are signs of discontent. Speaking anonymously, a representative described as “neither a member of the [hard-right] Freedom Caucus nor a moderate” told Politico: “Kevin McCarthy has pissed off enough members of his own conference that he’s going to have to go back to his former days as a whip to try to figure out where his votes are” to become speaker.

“I’d be worried if I was him … You have people like me – who are here to do the right thing for all the right reasons and have an expectation of leadership – that are, shall we say, disgusted with the internal squabbling that results from having weak leadership. And it is weak leadership. Straight up.”

The anonymous Republican also accused McCarthy of having no moral compass, given his refusal to act against the rightwing extremist Marjorie Taylor Greene, from Georgia, and the Florida congressman Matt Gaetz, who faces allegations of drug use and sex with an underage girl, which he denies.

Trump has backed the move against Cheney and endorsed Stefanik.

In a letter to his party on Monday, McCarthy said: “This is no time to take our eye off the ball. If we are to succeed in stopping the radical Democrat agenda from destroying our country, these internal conflicts need to be resolved so as to not detract from the efforts of our collective team.”

The same day brought an AP poll which showed Biden with a 63% approval rating. Perhaps more worrying for Republicans dissatisfied with McCarthy, 71% of respondents thought Biden was doing a good job tackling the coronavirus pandemic.

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