Why Joe Biden Should Reject Cancel Culture | Opinion

In a world gone mad, Rep. Bill Pascrell (D-N.J.) has placed himself in the running for president of the asylum.

Pascrell recently demanded that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi refuse to seat the 126 members of Congress who have called for tighter vetting of the 2020 election results. Setting aside one's views of the presidential election results (or the legal theories used to question them), this number represents nearly 25 percent of the House of Representatives. Is it wise or consistent with the First Amendment and principles of federalism to outright cancel a quarter of the People's Branch?

The answer, of course, is no.

While reckless, Pascrell's call to cancel the sizable chunk of the U.S. government that doesn't agree with his point of view isn't surprising—not in this new era of emboldened cancel culture that has now spread to our highest levels of government. In recent weeks, the country has already seen plenty of similar examples that are just as bold and just as concerning.

Following the announcement of a $500,000 advertising and social media doxing campaign by the Lincoln Project—an anti-Trump advocacy group—law firms Jones Day and Porter Wright dropped the Trump campaign as a client. Yes, the campaign's approach to contesting the election was conducted on shaky grounds, but targeting legal counsel just because one disagrees with their clients is immoral and antithetical to the legal principles this country was founded upon.

The outrage mob didn't stop there. Just days earlier, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) suggested that the country begin blacklisting all Trump supporters and staffers to exclude them from public life. Former staffers to President Barack Obama and presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg were quick to announce that they have already begun executing the idea through an initiative they call the "Trump Accountability Project." Is ostracizing half the country really in America's interests?

Targeting the views and supporters of a presidential administration may be a new tactic for the Left, but stifling the views and thoughts of opponents isn't. The Left has seemingly made silencing, defunding and censoring individuals and businesses that don't ascribe to its way of thinking a core mission for its supporters.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., questions Postmaster General Louis DeJoy during a House Oversight and Reform Committee hearing on slowdowns at the Postal Service ahead of the November elections on Capitol Hill in Washington,DC on August 24, 2020. Tom Williams / POOL / AFP/Getty

Harvard University official policy requires that a "neutral" moderator be present for "controversial" speakers—because yes, more deck-rigging is exactly what speakers who don't kowtow to leftists' pet issues need. Given the school's propensity to censor, it also shouldn't come as a surprise that some in the school are circulating a petition to crack down on the hiring of Trump officials to work or speak on campus.

News outlets and social media companies have also done their fair share of censoring competing viewpoints.

Michael Shellenberger, a Time Magazine "Hero of the Environment" and 30-year climate and environmental activist who recently changed his views on global warming, recently had his work censored by a prominent media outlet. Facebook has also suppressed his claims, just as it has done to countless other scientists and infectious disease experts that don't agree with the company's worldview.

Others on the Left have gone even further. They have pressured banks and financial institutions to cut ties with gun, oil and defense companies, with some success.

Following pressure from Democratic leaders in Congress to stop transacting with gun and security companies, U.S. banks and financial institutions have begun implementing seemingly politically motivated service denials. "How did this happen?" an emboldened Ocasio-Cortez asked on Twitter. "Through organizing people & public pressure!" Just imagine the media reaction if a similar effort were organized against progressive companies and causes.

A recent letter signed by nearly 150 authors and academics, including J.K. Rowling and Noam Chomsky, suggests as much. Although the politics of most of the signers may lean leftward, these liberals and leftists have enough foresight to understand that "The free exchange of information and ideas, the lifeblood of a liberal society, is daily becoming more constricted" by a growing movement to cancel individuals, businesses and ideas that one political class may disfavor.

On this liberals and conservatives should agree: cancel culture threatens innovation, creativity, scientific progress, freedom and any hope of unifying our country. In sum, it cuts off the very legs upon which this democratic republic stands. If president-elect Biden truly means what he says about unity, he can start by consistently condemning acts of cancel culture at every turn.

Rick Santorum served as a U.S. senator for Pennsylvania from 1995 to 2007.

The views expressed in this article are the writer's own.