The Kavanaugh confirmation hearing, the Squirrel Hill synagogue shooting, the Thousand Oaks shooting, the migrant caravan. What do these all have in common? They’ve been “politicized.”
“Politicization” tends to carry negative connotations. Many people to urge others not to politicize tragedies, implying that politicizing something is disrespectful to victims and survivors. But when those politicizing and those decrying politicization break down on partisan lines, both sides appear insincere. And people’s tendency to politicize events that support their political views and not politicize those events that undermine their political views only compounds the mutual feelings of insincerity. So is it acceptable to politicize events, particularly tragedies? And, if so, when? I believe that politicizing can be good or bad, and the difference lies in whether the politicizers remember what is at the heart of politics: people.
There are undoubtedly Democrats who wrongly politicized the sexual assault allegations against Justice Brett Kavanaugh to score political points, disregarding the interests of the accusers. But many—I would guess most—thought it was appropriate to consider the allegations in the Senate hearing because it was relevant to Kavanaugh’s fitness for the bench and because we need to have a national conversation about sexual assault. That’s the right kind of politicization—sparking discussion and action to productively deal with societal issues. Likewise, while there are legitimate concerns about border security and our immigration system, some Republicans, including President Trump, wrongfully politicized the migrant caravan, seemingly with the goal of increasing turnout for midterm elections. In both cases, politicization is essential for society to deal with problems, but self-interested parties politicize events for personal and partisan gain, forgetting the people our policies affect.
The Political Review exists to politicize. Inside, you will find articles discussing difficult topics and issues that vex our nation and our world. But we always seek to deal with these issues in a manner that remembers the people at the heart of every issue. We hope you will read with an open mind, with an understanding that our goal is to increase dialogue and not to shut it down. As always, we welcome your submissions, which are an important part of that dialogue. This month, you’ll find our featured reader submission by Hunter Thomas: “The New Face of the G.O.P.” We also invite you to complete the survey, the link for which can be found on the back cover. We value your feedback and often make decisions with it in mind. If you’re interested in joining us next semester, send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. We’ll be in touch in December with more details.