Thoughts on the Use of the Word “Politics” and Disuse of the Word “Government”


For quite some time, it has nagged me when I heard people expressing an interest to get into politics.

I have also read within governmental reporting the quotation, disparagingly uttered, “He’s just playing politics.”

It seems to me given these two ideas, that there is no place for politics in government, and that the more proper term for governing is “governing,” not “politics.”  That is, given these ideas, politics is not governing.

So what does the word “politics” mean?  What does it refer to?  I’ve been trying to pay attention to its use for a few years now, and it seems to me what the word “politics” denotes is the taking of sides.

What would political language be then?  Political language would be language that expresses a side.  It is biased language.  It is partial language.

Government, though, is presumably impartial, at least relative to the constitution on which it is founded.  Its language would probably be of the impartial sort–what we might call impartial language.

I moan when I hear people want to get into politics, as if this is a noble endeavor.  They seem to me to be saying, “nobly,” they want to get into a field wherein it is more important to take a side than to govern.  It is this side-taking that often seems to stall the governing process.  That is, government comes to a halt (so to speak) while governors (like congresspeople, et al.) fight for their side.

And worse when politics > governing.  That is, when the goals swap, when politics becomes more important than governing, government gets a bit screwed up.  I see this akin to when teachers forward the business notion that profit > service.  They say things like “Business is about making money.”  This is a short-sighted expression.  Business is about service to some community, and by design, profit is an aid for the delivery of service.  When profit becomes the more important goal, the goal of service suffers, especially in the choice between profit and service.  So the community suffers in the pursuit of profit.

And similarly the community suffers in the pursuit of politics.  When governing is more about aligning with perspectives than doing something about issues, the issues become more problematic.  At least in theory.

Thoughts?  Reply below.

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