A better way than this ‘Politicization of Everything’

In their editorial “The Politicization of Everything,” editors of The Wall Street Journal are right to worry about “[t]he progressive forces of identity politics … poisoning America’s favorite spectator sport.” But they’re wrong to give the impression that it’s a new thing.

What happened this weekend was that we finally noticed we’ve lost things we used to value in sports; e.g., mutual respect, appreciation for the purity of competitive endeavors, entertainment free of base political tribalism. This, however, was just another discouraging mile marker in our long cultural decline away from civility and appreciation of shared values among people who merely have differing political opinions.

It’s something I have been warning about in our politics for over a decade. Anyone who is familiar with how “progressives” try to enslave even truth to suit their politics of the moment knows. There is no aspect of society that they would suffer to remain free from politics.

There is no respite, no safe haven, no oasis from their relentless drumbeat of coercing and enforcing political groupthink. It’s perverse. And frightening.

And … wearying. It wears down your very soul, making it callous and unfeeling.

As I wrote in 2011:

The perils of politicizing everything is a recurring topic on The Locker Room. Why is politics one of the two topics to avoid in polite company (religion being the other)? Because politics is instantly divisive. When nonpolitical things are politicized, it contributes to polarizing society needlessly.

I say “needlessly” because I am not a socialist. Socialists cannot allow anything to extend beyond the political realm because their philosophy is all about enslaving everything to politics. The “political correctness” movement is the corrosive front of this sick movement.

You name it — foodmusic and the arts, even sports, and Barack knows, religion — and it must be yoked to the political message du jour. …

Politicizing these things doesn’t “solve” them, however. When the political class inserts itself into things outside their natural realm, they make a predictable mess. And then, in the deplorable spirit of politics, they blame their political enemies for the mess and never question the original, highly flawed assumption that the thing needed politicization in the first place.

It is never my intent to be a prophet in these things! I much prefer to point to a better way. Such as this piece, entitled “Cherish the many things in life above politics“:

As [Stanley] Fish perceives, there are more important things to life than politics. Breaking bread with friends is one of the greatest.

Politics is, of course, a part of life. So are the activities that take place in bathrooms, and they aren’t polite subjects either, as necessary as they are for the health of the body. Politics is messy, dirty, foul, and entirely necessary for the body politic, but that doesn’t mean we should revel in it or worse, exalt it.

As Paul wrote to the church at Philippi, “whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable — if anything is excellent or praiseworthy — think about such things.” And there we find family, friends, food, music and the arts, sports, and so on, and yes, even politicians and political accomplishments, but none to the detriment of the rest.

It is for this reason I have urged against using family gatherings at Thanksgiving and Christmas as occasions to proselytize perceived errant family members, not only when the Left wanted it but when the Right might be tempted to give it right back.

We need to strengthen our commonalities. Embrace what we enjoy in common and nurture it, together. Spend more time focusing on those good things.

The politics of this moment in time aside, the real “Resistance” Movement this country needs is one that resists the dedicated effort by a few to cram our political differences into everything, especially nice things that healthy societies keep free and clear from tawdry politics.

As the Journal rightly called it, politicizing everything is poison. Poison is to be avoided. We know what’s healthy.

Jon Sanders / Research Editor and Senior Fellow, Regulatory Studies

Jon Sanders studies regulatory policy, a veritable kudzu of invasive government and unintended consequences. As director of regulatory studies at the John Locke Foundation, Jo...