There’s a lot of speculation in the mainstream media about which issues will dominate the 2022 midterms. But as usual, the press is clueless about the concerns of average Americans. The chattering class could learn a thing or two if they listened to Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, who has said the most important thing right now isn’t the economy, or COVID, or jobs, or immigration, or climate change, or gun violence, or taxes, or infrastructure, or vaccines, or social spending, or the border, or China, or the Middle East, or nuclear proliferation—it’s that conservatives are being canceled and critical race theory exists. And he’s 100 percent correct. So if Republicans want to win in 2022, they should run against cancel culture and promise to fire anyone who teaches CRT.

It goes without saying that all Americans should oppose cancel culture—it’s an assault on the First Amendment, which gives everyone a constitutional right to say whatever they want, whenever they want, without any consequences of any kind. Ask yourself: Do you really want to live in a society in which people can be criticized for every little thing they say in public, or where a former president can be barred from spreading misinformation about a pandemic, or where a social platform can be shut down for inciting violence? No, you don’t, because freedom of speech is central to who we are as a nation, except when that speech attempts to articulate a theory of the complex relationship between our legal system and the history of institutional racism in this country. Sorry, but that crosses a line.

And consider what cancel culture has done to education. American universities used to be places that encouraged the free exchange of ideas, where important issues were openly and vigorously debated, and diversity of thought was championed. But now, they’ve been transformed into gulags of narrow-mindedness, groupthink, and intolerance. This is the opposite of what education should do, which is to open minds, challenge beliefs, and cultivate inquiry—unless it involves reconsidering the centrality and pervasiveness of racism in American society. That’s divisive and wrong, and it shouldn’t be permitted anywhere near our children.

Here’s the thing, though. Cancel culture isn’t just taking place in some ivory tower over abstract ideals; it’s had a devastating effect on people’s very livelihoods. Practically every day, ordinary people are being banned from coffee shops or fired from their jobs simply because they have different beliefs about the racial superiority of white people, or the safety of the COVID vaccines, or whether the Holocaust happened. Now, I think it’s pretty clear the Holocaust occurred, but should we really be sending folks to the unemployment line just because they have a different view about it? I mean, it’s horrible that right now in the United States anyone could get fired for expressing ideas, unless they are spreading CRT’s hateful and false narrative—or something that kind of sounds like it—denying the essential goodness of this country and undermining its very fabric.

Cancel culture is a cancer on our body politic, eating away at one of the core principles that makes America great—the right to say whatever we want in any platform we choose, except classrooms. So, if Republicans want to regain control of Congress and ultimately the White House, they should stand up for freedom of speech and stand against the cancel culture Thought Police—while simultaneously using the power of the state to mercilessly crack down on the lies and heresies of critical race theory.