WASHINGTON — A once obscure internet debate over the limits of free speech and the rise of what critics call “cancel culture” has, somewhat improbably, become a significant 2020 campaign issue.
President Trump tapped into conservative worries about cancel culture — the notion that everyone from intellectuals to everyday citizens can be “canceled” and see their lives upended if they become the target of an online “mob” — in a July 3 speech at Mount Rushmore. Cancel culture, the president insisted, is “the very definition of totalitarianism.”
Whether the president has hit on a winning issue is unclear. According to a Yahoo News/YouGov poll released Wednesday, 58 percent of Americans said they were unsure about what cancel culture refers to, and once it was explained to them, only 28 percent called it a “very big problem.” But beyond the 2020 campaign, a very real argument