The Semantics of “Politics”

I am not an English or literary scholar. I am just an independent author who believes he has an understanding of the English language and has been here long enough to see the shifting meanings of words and changes in word choices. One of the biggest of these changes is the change in the way people use the word “politics.”

The platitude goes, “you should never talk politics or religion.” I would like to add, for added observational humor, you should absolutely never talk politics with the religious. In trying to do so, I have realized that the blanket meaning of the term “politics” has been expanded to cover any controversial topic, allowing for no polite discussions at all. How did we get to a place where discussing trans women in biological women’s sports became so controversial? Why can I not freely discuss teen puberty blockers or transgender surgeries with the religious, who hopped around and hated on the gays until about fifteen or twenty years ago? I would assume any anti-abortion Christian would want to discuss children making lifelong surgical changes to their bodies, as it is akin to child murder and definitely a lot worse than two homosexual lovers that are public about their relationship and express their affection behind closed doors. But no, those topics now fall under the word politics and they are not to be discussed.

I am one of those red-pilled GenX liberals, who still respects Bill Maher and steered away from the Republican side during my formative years because if I was gay and if I entered a union with another male I could not legally visit him in the hospital. Back then the overall voter base of the right was so hateful to homosexuals that some Republicans didn’t want to even allow civil unions. I used to laugh at how, in the throes of their unpopular policies, they clung ferociously to the sacred meaning of the word marriage. They did not want to call any same sex union a marriage. Despite all of the kicking and screaming by conservatives in the ‘90s and ‘00s, marriage now firmly means the union of any two humans even on the federal level. The word marriage finally changed its meaning. Unfortunately, the meaning of the word politics has also changed.

The modern day meaning of the word politics now encompasses any issue that might cause some kind of charged discussion. That is the biggest problem in the left-right divide we now have in the country. There is some unspoken rule that any discussion about hot-button topics should be avoided at all costs. As a social experiment yesterday I asked a couple of strangers what they thought about the Columbia University protests. Both didn’t want to share their opinion on the issue. That is one of the reasons there is such a fierce divide in our culture and country today. Out of some unspoken form of etiquette or fear of cancellation, few talk about or discuss any social issues today.

I can understand the conservative ways, because there is always merit in keeping things the same if they are working. That wasn’t the issue back in pre-gay marriage days. Basic human rights were the issue, and it was a glaring one enough that it was rightfully corrected by the left. Today there are many progressive issues not being discussed that will destroy women’s sports and teenager’s bodies and lives. What is worse is that these trends have been allowed with little discussion, and it is logically clear that they are not working. Instead, criticism or analysis of these issues is considered taboo. Also, the administration seems to have the backing of just about every single major corporation, or is it the other way around? I can’t tell sometimes.

If it is not considered polite or at least acceptable to discuss issues freely with one another, we cannot come up with the best policies and conclusions on any issue. I have a lot of conservative friends now, with whom I mostly discuss issues online, but not a single one of them will say they don’t believe two same sex men or women can’t marry each other. We hashed those issues out and made some monumental changes to policy in the 2000s. Today the administration has forced some very harmful practices into modern society, and they are not working. Women’s sports are becoming more of a sad spectacle. Teens are allowed to make life-changing decisions and an alarming number are beginning to regret it. But we are not allowed to discuss those issues. They are now deemed politics and are off limits for discussion.

Nonsense. Politics still means what it always has: activities associated with the governance of a country or other area. I speculate the word politics began to change its meaning when people started using the word socio-political. I wish it still meant Republicans and Democrats or Ronald Reagan and Jimmy Carter. If I want to talk to a stranger in a bar about the encroachment of our freedom of speech by the State compelling us to use the correct pronouns, I am discussing politics and the topic is frowned upon. It would be nice if I wasn’t looked at like a subversive for wanting to talk about major issues. Unfortunately, this is 2024 and the meanings of some words are as up in the air as the future of our freedom of speech.

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Free the People publishes opinion-based articles from contributing writers. The opinions and ideas expressed do not always reflect the opinions and ideas that Free the People endorses. We believe in free speech, and in providing a platform for open dialog. Feel free to leave a comment!

John H Stephenson IV

John H Stephenson IV is a self-published author with works on Amazon. He writes contemporary Appalachian style humorous short stories and satire, and lives in Radford, VA with his off-leash trained mutt. He writes in fearless free speech style, which includes some crude and offensive National Lampoon's and Mad Magazine type humor. More than making money from his work, he wants to share some laughs. You can watch some low-quality videos of him reading some of his work on his YouTube channel.

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