The Meaning of Politics

Exasperated citizens are sometimes overheard to say that the problem in Washington is with politics. 

Not so fast. 

The word itself offers an important lesson.  It comes from the Greek word polis, meaning “city.”  Politics, you see, is nothing more than the life of the city–or the life of the state, or nation.  Anywhere one finds people one inevitably finds politics as we make our way as a community of persons engaging, arguing, and trading with one another.

The problem isn’t politics.  Politics is as natural as breathing. 

The problem is how we do our politics.

Our national leaders have a particular way of telling us what we want to hear, and we have a way of believing them.  We enjoy having our ears tickled.  Politicians have become experts at moving among us and telling our various component groups just what we want to hear.  Every word is measured, offered carefully, and intended to inspire as many people as possible while offending as few as possible.  At the same time they often spread rumors about their opponents instead of dealing with thorny issues.

In other words, politics is more about spin than truth.  Wouldn’t it be refreshing to encounter a politician who said exactly what he or she actually thinks about an issue?  With such a leader I believe most Americans would be so enthralled as to be quite forgiving for shortcomings and faults.

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One thought on “The Meaning of Politics

  1. It takes money to be elected. That is a fact. It is my belief that the funds for an election should come from the constituents of the district, i.e., citizens and small business who reside and/or do business in the district. This would limit the obligation of the elected official to those who funded their campaign. When campaigns are funded by corporations outside of the district, political action committees and special interest groups, then the elected officials would be obligated to them as well. The greater obligation would lie where the greater funding came; outside the constituent population.

    Also, if we limited the terms of our politicians their focus would be on doing the work of the people rather than getting re-elected. It is true that everything an elected official does or says, publicly or privately, from the moment s/he takes the oath of office is to get re-elected. It has to be if the career politician expects to stay in office.

    However, if being an elected official was a privilege, a citizen obligation, as it was in ancient times, then terms would be limited, and the only thought of the politician would be what was best for his/her neighbors. The thought of being re-elected would be a foreign concept because when one term is over it would be time for someone else to have their opportunity to serve.

    If terms were limited and campaign finance were reformed it would be easier for politicians to say what they mean and mean what they say. It would be easier to live the life of a “regular citizen” if the politicians would be going back to being a regular citizen when their terms were over. If the privileges and benefits of being in elected office ended when the term was over politicians would be forced to look out for their neighbors because when their terms were over they would become the neighbor to the next official in their seat. Politicians would be responsible for the lives of the citizenry because they would once again become the citizenry.

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