One of this week’s silliest news “controversies” swirled around the Philadelphia Eagles’ cancelled visit to the White House. Pundits on the right were offended that many players refused the honor of a White House invitation just because they don’t like the president. On the left, CNN’s Chris Cillizza was deeply offended by President Trump’s decision to rescind the invite and his “appalling” statement about it.
In other words, the entire episode was simply a Rorschach test that provided a platform for partisans on both sides to voice entirely predictable opinions. If the president said his favorite color was yellow, some would hail the wisdom of the choice while others would find evidence of corruption. That’s just the way things work in politics today.
But this incident reveals a deeper rot in the entire political process. Both sides in the partisan sniping implicitly assume that the president should act like royalty and treat the White House like a palace. It’s part of a larger attitude pretending that the president’s every utterance is of supreme importance and that he must express an opinion on just about everything.
The president’s job is to lead the government, not bestow royal blessings on successful citizens or offer a running commentary on every fad in the news cycle. Bluntly, I don’t care what President Trump thinks about the Philadelphia Eagles any more than I cared about the March Madness brackets filled out by President Obama. If you want royalty, go to London.
In America, it should be possible to watch a football game or go to the theater without hearing from or about the president. In fact, it should be normal to go about daily life without encountering the intrusion of partisan politics into every nook and cranny of society. Unfortunately, that’s not the case today.
To restore balance in our public life, it’s well past time to establish social boundaries protecting large segments of public life from the civic pollution of politics. We must get rid of the false media narrative that every problem has a political solution and every situation must be analyzed politically. President Trump could take a simple step in the right direction by ending the practice of inviting teams to the White House.
With boundaries protecting society from politics, it would be easier to remember that the president runs the government, not the country. We would see more reminders that almost all positive change in America comes from far outside of official Washington. Leaders like Jackie Robinson, Martin Luther King, Jr., Steve Jobs, and Bill Gates have each had a more lasting impact than any politician.
That’s the way it’s supposed to work in a nation founded upon the ideals of freedom, equality, and self-governance. Politics do have a role to play in governing our society, but it is not the lead role. Instead, progress comes from unleashing the creativity and resources of individual Americans, families, community groups, churches, entrepreneurs, small businesses, local governments and more. Leadership comes from millions of everyday Americans who work together in community to create a better world.