Stop making everything political

Politicization+is+tearing+our+nation+apart+due+to+its+deep+roots+in+our+society.

Leah Schroeder

Politicization is tearing our nation apart due to its deep roots in our society.

Stop Making Everything Political

We’ve all heard the age-old advice to avoid talking politics at the dinner table. But in an age when everything seems to be political, what is there left to talk about? Politicization is a phenomenon that has invaded many aspects of our daily lives and has become all too common in the last few years. 

Politicization is defined as giving a political tone or character to a topic or event. In recent years, this has become the norm. Almost everything that goes down in the news ends up with two sides pitted against each other, unwavering in their arguments. The political nature of pretty much everything holds so much power over our population, that political beliefs can shape everything from the celebrities we keep up with to the people we associate with.

Politicization has become increasingly prevalent in recent years. In fact, Pew Research Center has noted that disagreements have become increasingly severe between Democrats and Republicans on various current issues in the past few years. There is no doubt that this issue plaguing our society must be stopped. 

The Perfect Storm

There are many factors that have contributed to politics overwhelming our world recently. While our two-party system is partly to blame, there are two factors that remain most prominent: America’s polarized media and political elites.

The media is a large proponent of politicization, but they’re not all to blame. Dramatic headlines, riddled with trigger words, can be interpreted as American media playing to the shock factor of their waiting audience. We have an inherent bad news bias, meaning we are drawn to tragedy, and the American media is representative of this issue. Regardless of their intent, the media has undoubtedly aggravated the divide in our political climate. American media has the power to shape their audience’s opinions on what they cover, yet their coverage did little besides further dividing our already disjointed society. It’s been proven that since the pandemic, the media has become noticeably more politicized. Take a look at almost any article about COVID-19 it’s obvious that dramatic political views were the priority, not facts. 

Not only was the media polarized on its coverage, but their approach also proved to have a political air as well. Democrats and Republicans were divided on the accuracy of coverage, whether or not the media was working to benefit society or help the country, and if journalists acted in the best interest of the country. Regardless of what each of these partisan groups believe, our American media placed precedence on trivial matters, instead of necessary, life-saving information. They further polarized our diverging society and demonstrated just how deeply the consequences of this pressing issue run. The bottom line is that our media shapes public opinion, and the glaringly obvious polarization in recent years is majorly to blame for our viciously political society. 

Our media shapes public opinion, and the glaringly obvious polarization in recent years is majorly to blame for our viciously political society. ”

— Leah Schroeder

While the media is a major player in the political game, elite political figures are also to blame for the trend dominating our society. Political figures have started to become idolized and regarded as characters, rather than public servants responsible for representing the beliefs of the American people. Because political figures are idolized in our society, individuals are more likely to blindly follow politicians over experts. 

Oftentimes, variances in political beliefs regarding a certain topic can be attributed to the way that political elites respond to said topic. Politicians are components of a broken system that views the other side as enemies, and while it’s not entirely their fault that our society is so polarized, they are aware of this fact and use it to their advantage, which only makes the situation worse. By attacking the other side, using political buzzwords and just flat out dramatizing their actions for the press, politicians deepen the chasm between the left and right. Because of this phenomenon, nearly everything has some air of politics around it.  

A few examples

Because politicization is an issue that runs so rampant in our society, there are countless examples of the trend. However, a few events, in particular, have changed entirely as a result of society twisting them to be political. 

COVID-19 is a prime example of politicization (I bet you didn’t see that coming). Despite the fact that COVID-19 was declared an international public health emergency by the World Health Organization, the pandemic took on a political air and many continued to debate its existence due to various reasons, one being a misinformed politician who will not be named. Nearly every element of the pandemic turned into a political debate, from social distancing to masks to vaccines. We cannot effectively respond to the pandemic if we don’t abandon the politicization of COVID-19. I don’t want to beat a dead horse, but the main idea is that 5,220,384 people died from COVID-19, and it was completely and totally unnecessary to make the existence of a global pandemic a political argument.

Climate change is another topic that America has managed to turn into an argument. According to a study completed by the Reuters Institute at Oxford University, American media covers climate change differently than all other countries. Our media gives “significantly more space to skeptical [sic] voices, in all their manifestations… when compared to the rest of the world.” Political debates about how to approach issues are not inherently a problem, but the issue comes when scientific facts are debated and we, as a nation, fail to take action, because our views are clouded by anger.

Politicization even seeps into school systems. This issue was exacerbated by the 2016 election, which spurred and encouraged educational politicization. There have been violent debates regarding the extent that history can be politicized in schools. The result is a divided school system across the nation. For example, McGraw-Hill — a publisher that we use for textbooks — has different editions of their textbooks for different states. Their California textbook places a greater emphasis on racial history in the United States, while the Texas edition avoids this. The California edition also references current gun laws within their discussion of the Bill of Rights, while this annotation is not present in the Texas book. We must present the facts without letting our own political biases influence them. While politicians in these states may rejoice in the fact that their beliefs are being represented in the school systems, the reality is that this will result in entire generations of students that miss out on being able to form their own opinions based on factual information. Our biases should not hold this much power over the fate of our society. 

So, what now?

Political debates are not a problem. Having certain political allegiances is not the problem. Even adamantly disagreeing on a political issue is not a problem. The issue lies in the fact that politicization runs so deep in our society today it shapes nearly every aspect of our daily lives. 

When every issue that we face together, as a nation, takes on a political nature, we become divided. When, in reality, we should unite as a common force to tackle the issue. If issues are politicized, we can not effectively solve them. Furthermore, politicization takes away from facts and is a major player in the misinformation crisis. Because of this issue, facts and science take a backseat, as beliefs and opinions of political elites are prioritized. Politicians must avoid letting their agendas dominate their response to serious issues.

If you are leading a politicized life, you are putting yourself at a disadvantage…. You are missing out on an entire group of people solely because of their beliefs. You are missing out on viewpoints and perspectives. You are missing out on living life.”

— Leah Schroeder

The media is another large proponent of misinformation. Instead of covering the dramatics, they should focus on looking to make a positive difference with their coverage and spread crucial information. We need to place facts front and center, and let individuals form their own opinions. Politicization stands in the way of progress.

At a more personal level, if you are leading a politicized life, you are putting yourself at a disadvantage. I’m sure you have heard someone say they don’t like someone because they are “too conservative” or “too liberal,” but someone’s political beliefs can form your impression of them. You are missing out on an entire group of people solely because of their beliefs. You are missing out on viewpoints and perspectives. You are missing out on living life because you are caught up in trivial arguments about topics we shouldn’t even be arguing about.

Make a change. Politicians shouldn’t prioritize their own beliefs, and the media should become less polarized. But they aren’t reading this article, you are. America has hardly ever been as polarized as it is today, but you can change this fact. Our society must change the way that we regard politics. We can’t let a person’s political beliefs form our opinion of them, we must act as a united force against problems and we must stop making everything political.