A Political Life vs. a Politicized Life

March 25, 2013

I want to clarify/expand upon a point made in this post on the emptiness of a politicized life.

There's nothing wrong with living a political life. That is, a life in which politics is one of your interests or your job, something you follow and keep track of and educate yourself on and argue about. The arena of politics is important; political decisions have consequences; and passionately arguing for your preferred political outcomes is nothing to be ashamed of.

A politicized life is a different beast, however. It treats politics as a zero sum game or a form of total warfare in which the other side must be obliterated. It alters every aspect of your being: where you shop; what you watch on TV; what sort of music you listen to; who you associate with. If you're not with the politicized being, you're against him—and if you're against him, he is well within his rights to ruin you personally and economically. You, the political other, are a leper to be shunned, lest your thoughtcrimes infect the rest of society.

As I wrote, I find this to be more than a little disturbing. I don't worry too much about growing partisan gridlock, but I do worry somewhat about an America in which each half the country hates the other so viscerally that they won't even interact. That's a truly dangerous state of affairs. One I seem to recall happening before...

That's why I get so disturbed when I read the Kevin Blackwells of the world. Or the Eric Donderos of the world. For those who forgot this little gem, Dondero was so disheartened by Barack Obama's reelection that he pledged to "banish" all Democrats from his life:

Eric Dondero refuses to speak to his brother. Not on Thanksgiving. Not over the holiday season. Not now, not ever.

The reason?

Mr. Dondero’s brother, Alex, is a Democrat. As such, Mr. Dondero assumes he voted for President Obama.

"Everybody I know that voted for Obama is dead to me," Mr. Dondero said. "I don’t want to talk to them again. I don’t want to see them again. I won’t even attend their funeral. The nation committed suicide on November 6."

Now look: You have the right to be a jerk at Thanksgiving and you have a right to throw your heroes overboard because they believe in a flat tax and you have a right to institute a blacklist because they disagree with you on gay marriage. Nobody's denying that you have the right to do any of these things.

All I'm suggesting is that, by doing these things, you are a sad, terrible person setting himself up for an empty life and destroying the very fabric of our society.

No biggie.

(Photo Credit: Sasha Y. Kimel via Compfight cc)

Published under: Progressive Movement