Director, Commonwealth Policy Center
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Open your browser, turn on your TV, unlock your phone. It seems everywhere you turn— articles, statuses, and everything in between bring shared outrage or criticism of Starbucks red cups, Star Wars casting decisions, and schadenfreude over a team losing the world series because the third basemen was against the individual’s political opinions. All of this is wrapped up into one truly shallow package: we’ve politicized everything. A Coca-Cola cannot be a Coca-Cola without the backdrop of injustice. An opinion of an athlete is met with animosity because it offends or disagrees with the cultural king makers of the day. College students boycott classes of professors they disagree with. Politicizing everything that comes across your news feed is not a life worth living. A healthy concern for politics is good and laudable. But politics makes for a terrible master. It leads to articles stating that you’re thankful a sports teams loses because their third-baseman is an “anti-gay bigot.” And suspicion over literature because the reader is wondering about the politics behind the author. One can’t watch a film without feeling like you must explain the inherent oppression of cast members. All of these are good and well to reflect on, but life is more than politics. When politics is placed in a proper place, politics can be honorable. However, the political sphere is dishonored when it is made to be more than it is. 

Ideas have faces. They have families, mortgages, hopes and dreams. If that is lost in the posture of your disagreement, you have missed what it means to disagree honorably with someone. They become caricatures, stereotypes, and the equivalent of a scarecrow placed in a field. You can throw insults at him all day long, but in reality you are the one who looks like a fool because you are not talking to a person. Write eloquently against those ideas you disagree with. Write with strong opposition to policies and ideas that don’t help the commonwealth of Kentucky or the country at large. But politicizing such that you cannot appreciate good hearted attempts of an opponent to do good is not a healthy place to be. 

We’ve attempted to turn society into our image. When it does not comply we cry havoc and let slip the dogs of war. Principled disagreement is a bedrock of American society. Politicizing everything ensures disagreement is demonized and homogeneity is the cultural banner of the day. This is unhealthy and foreign to the idea of the great American experiment.