Nobody wants to read another monologue on “messy politics.” Frankly, the outpour of information and unwarranted opinions are enough to send any person over the edge. For the purposes of this review – I’ll refer to politics as a chocolate milkshake: simple, easily digested, and not controversial (mostly). You’ll thank me later.
Chocolate milkshakes are treats best devoured on an occasional basis. If all you ever ate was a chocolate milkshake, it would begin to taste sickeningly sweet and over-sugared. The same can be said for anything at all, really. If it was Christmas everyday, Christmas would become boring, monotonous, mundane. See what I’m stabbing at here? Too much of anything devalues the purpose of doing, well, anything, no matter how delicious.
Enter Overdoing Democracy by Robert B. Talisse, political science professor at Lipscomb University. His book is focused explicitly on the sugarization of chocolate milkshakes – how the once delicious treat has become an overeaten and nauseating snack. And can you blame him? The world is filled with opinions on how chocolate milkshakes should be eaten. What context is it okay to eat a milkshake? Should we have whipped cream or a cherry on top? Who gets to benefit from the savory taste of ice cream? Should chocolate milkshakes be shaken or stirred? Made with milk or powder? On and on and on. Suddenly, what was once a simple dessert has become a complexity, a Catch 22 if you will – a web of silk spiders playing hot potato with your brain.
Talisse’s book is the middle ground of the chocolate milkshake trainwreck. As he explains, rather thoroughly I might add, throughout the book, it’s time to take a break from chocolate milkshakes. It’s time to eat banana splits & strawberry shortcake & rocky road, or heaven forbid even some vegetables. Anything, as long as it doesn’t start with chocolate and end with milkshake. By overdoing chocolate milkshakes, we are undermining their value and ruining the taste for everyone. So, as Talisse suggests, we need to develop a palette for other desserts because we are multifaceted individuals who are more than just our love for milkshakes. It’s not about making milkshakes better, but rather choosing at times to not drink them at all. The answer is discipline, not a greater affinity for chocolate.
I’ve spared all of you from the dreaded word long enough. Weaponized politics and ad hominem attacks do not achieve anything but division. The very same parents who chastise their children for treating others unkindly will turn around and subtweet their neighbors, coworkers and acquaintances. They’ll scream like animals at one another and then greet each other kindly on a Sunday. Frankly, we’ve tried discussion and bridging the political divide – but it only seems to exacerbate the differences at hand, rather than demonstrate any sort of gesture of good faith. The world needs an olive branch, not a weed – so I ask you: Is the animosity worth the pain and destruction it causes? Is it worth leaving your children a world that views a person’s worth second to their political affiliation? Perhaps it’s time we “put politics in its place,” as Talisse says. Not because politics means nothing, but because it doesn’t mean everything.