It’s this sort of experience that gave rise to concerns about cancel culture, which I define as possessing the following elements: a relatively obscure victim; an offense that is either trivial, or misunderstood, or so long ago that it ought to have been forgotten; and an unjust and disproportionate social sanction. Not every alleged cancellation includes each of these components, of course. Kyler Murray, the 2018 winner of the Heisman Trophy, is not an obscure person. Nevertheless, the flurry of news articles that dug up several homophobic tweets he had sent as a 14-year-old count as an attempt to cancel him, I argued at the time…

But if there’s one domain where this trend does not hold, it’s the political sphere: If anything, the likelihood of a politician being held accountable has fallen over time, since increased partisanship makes it all but impossible to break ranks and call out a member of one’s own team. Indeed, Republicans who have criticized the GOP’s Trumpian drift are far more likely to face cancellation than members of the party who spout nonsense about stolen elections.

Which brings us back to Marjorie Taylor Greene. If Greene were not a public figure—if she were, say, an auto mechanic rather than a member of Congress—I’d call it excessively cruel to try to get her fired for having promoted conspiracy theories some years ago. All sorts of people hold all sorts of kooky views, and everyone has done or said things they regret. But Greene is an elected member of the House of Representatives, an elite lawmaking branch of the U.S. government. There are only 434 other people in the country who hold this position. If it’s wrong to punish her for the views she expressed on political subjects, then democracy itself is wrong: Picking and choosing leaders who have sound opinions is the whole point.