Politics: You keep using that word

We’ve been told since we were young that it wasn’t polite to talk about politics or religion most of the time. And honestly it’s not a terrible policy- religion is a very personal subject and it’s easy to offend and political discussions can get heated quickly.

The problem we’ve run into now is “politics” is now used as a code word for “anything I’m uncomfortable hearing/discussing/defending.” That was not the original intent. Talking about how one party chooses to deal with an esoteric senate rule versus the other is politics. Standing up for basic freedoms and ideals is not ‘talking politics.'

I know many bristle at the term ‘privilege’ when used in the context of male privilege, white priviledge, etc. because they feel its purpose is to invalidate any effort or struggle they have personally experienced. While that’s obviously not the point, this discussion around ‘politics’ is a perfect example of what white/male/straight/etc. privilege is.

Soon after the election I was discussing it with a friend of mine. Although his politics are generally conservative, he was/is no fan of Trump and didn’t vote for him. I was telling him how troubled I was by the results, how concerned I was, and what I intended to do about it. His reaction was “honestly I’m not getting too worked up about it. It’s not really going to affect my life that much.”

To be honest he’s right; how much will it directly impact either of our lives as economically secure straight white guys? Not much. That’s exactly what privilege is all about. Women, people of color, the LGBTQ community, immigrants, etc don’t have the luxury of calling it ‘politics’ and tuning out.

Add in the recent healthcare battle and now more people are starting to see that these things they dismiss as “politics” might have a life and death effect on themselves or someone they care about.

So sorry well off straight white guy in tech, no you can’t make what you call “politics” just go away.