We hadn't heard of Dolezal before last week, but she now tops presidential candidates on Google Web search trends. And if you're friends with people who like posting their opinions on politics on Facebook, you've probably seen a lot of her there, too.
And she's become the rare controversy that unites people across political ideologies -- kind of. To some liberals, Dolezal is wrong for using the equivalent of blackface, for appropriation and for white privilege ...
... while conservatives have compared her identifying as black to Caitlyn Jenner identifying as a woman (among other personal identifications they find objectionable).
It's different approaches to the story from two different groups with different values that reach the same conclusion: The Dolezal situation is messed up. It's also a reminder that the definition of what constitutes "politics" is broad. It's not just politicians and campaigns and bills and elections; it can also be a Spokane, Wash., woman whose ancestors are Czech, German and Swedish and says she's black. It's a story that sits at the nexus of race and identity, a place that's sure to inspire passionate opinions ... that eventually come back to politics.
Jon Stewart bemoaned the big reaction to a woman from Washington's second-largest city on "The Daily Show" on Monday. He specifically targeted conservatives who spoke about Dolezal as a sign of larger liberal ills, sarcastically saying: "Well clearly, liberal culture has reached its nadir. Rome has fallen, yet racism is over. It is the best of times, it is the worst of times -- all because a German lady got a weave."
Joking aside, it is just one lady, but that's politics. Any person or issue that strikes a nerve at the right time on the right topic can find themselves at the center of our national political discussion, even getting asked about in questions to presidential candidates. It was Caitlyn Jenner a few weeks ago; now it's Dolezal. And all despite the fact that there's not really any pressing issue at hand for politicians to deal with.
But in an age in which everyone can have a platform to espouse their views on the issues of the day, it inevitably becomes about politics.