How the personal becoming political turned into a threat to the Republic
The left has made the personal political by politicizing everything. With the political personal, feelings are now more important than facts.
What is so important about this is that the political left has pulled off a psychological trick that's had incredible implications. What began as benign political correctness decades ago has evolved into the nefarious and dangerous wokeness and cancel culture of today. By using the paradigm of the Civil Rights era, where historical wrongs of discrimination were thought to have been finally brought to an end, the left didn't stop there. It continued its pursuit of more power and the creation a one-party state.
Leftists ingeniously used victimhood as a launching pad to manufacture large groups of voters by turning identity itself into a form of oppression and grievance. Only the Democrats would be the ones to correct it, through the power of the government.
This has led to political pandering on a massive scale.
In the book The Rise and Triumph of the Modern Self: Cultural Amnesia, Expressive Individualism and the Road to Sexual Revolution, author Carl Treuman describes in detail on how the left weaponized identity and psychology for political purposes to the point where hurt feelings have now become a form of oppressive power that takes priority over everything else.
Treuman references early in his book another book called The Triumph of the Therapeutic by Philip Reiff, which describes how this all began, going back thousands of years. It shows the broad evolution of humanity's identity from "political man" during the Greco-Roman era to the "religious man" during the medieval era to "economic man" of the early modern era, to where we are now, the "psychological man" of the late modern era, AKA postmodernism.
Postmodernism at its most basic is the triumph of feelings over facts because men and women have been thoroughly "psychologized."
The following passage from The Rise and Triumph of the Modern Self describes exactly how this happened once psychology took hold throughout the Western world following Freud and his revolutionary new definition of the individual, then later combined with the romanticism of Rousseau and Marx's idea that history is nothing but the story of oppression that must always require liberation.
To follow Rousseau is to make identity psychological. To follow Freud is to make psychology, and thus identity, sexual. To mesh this combination with Marx is to make identity, and therefore sex, political. And the politics that is produced thereby has a distinctive character precisely because the reality that it thinks it is addressing is at base a psychological one. To transform society politically, then, one must transform society sexually and psychologically, a point that places psychological categories at the heart of revolutionary political discourse. where once oppression was seen in terms of economic realities or legal categories, now the matter is more subtle because it relates to issues of psychology and self-consciousness. The political sphere is internalized and subjectivized.
In the process of making the personal political, the left has successfully politicized everything. It began simply and fairly enough with rectifying racial grievance, but then it shifted into the grievances of women, who also claimed discrimination and oppression. AOC was in the news recently repeating her grievance about the pervasiveness of misogyny and that she will never become president because men hate women. She is doing nothing less than echoing Carol Hanisch, a leading feminist in the late 1960s, who coined the term "the personal is political."
Then there is the environment that now is requiring what the left calls "environmental justice." The current radical environmentalism of Biden's administration can be traced directly back to this notion of oppression that now requires saving by the state.
Normalizing of homosexuality, culminating in legalizing gay "marriage" plus the transgender movement of today, is a direct result of making the personal political. The most important reason for all of this is that the end result is that the government always ends up with more power.
Abortion too, is making a very personal situation political by going to the government for redress for ending unwanted pregnancies on demand. It puts the government in the position of the permissive parent satisfying the wants of a child, that in turn gains the allegiance and vote from that person through political pandering. The result is always more governmental power.
Why this is so dangerous is that it is leading down a road to criminalizing basic freedoms that were enshrined in the Constitution and those who have legitimate reasons for dissenting from policies the government and political establishment considers untouchable. This is why nearly every department, from the IRS to the DOJ and FBI, has been politicized by the Democrats. They have been going after President Trump before, during, and now after his administration because he represents a clear threat to big government power. The Democrats are exploiting and abusing ambiguities in the law and the Constitution to frame everything they do as legal and protecting democracy, which in a way are strokes of evil genius because it allows them to label the person who disagrees with them as anti-democratic.
Donald Trump never hurt anyone financially or physically, but he may have hurt a lot of people's feelings, which is why many suburban white women didn't vote for him in 2020, possibly costing him the election. College students began getting their own safe spaces years ago in order to protect their feelings whenever they didn't feel comfortable and were offended with words or ideas that didn't correspond to their own. Conservative speakers on campus are getting hounded off stages where they're speaking, sometimes violently, which is what happened at Vermont's Middlebury College in March of 2017. They were also shouted down earlier this year at Yale Law School, because students were outraged with the speakers' points of view that in their opinion they thought were wrong and hurtful, therefore didn't deserved to be heard.
All of these attacks on free speech along with censorship of conservatives by Big Tech combined with the criminalization of political opponents and weaponization of government bureaucracy began by making the personal political. It's not hard to see where all of this heading and why it's such a dangerous inflection point in American history.