HGov: Politics

Power and Politics mrd

Political thinking is the careful gathering and sifting of information in the process of forming knowledgeable views of political developments. Political thinking is a key to responsible citizenship, but many citizens avoid it by virtue of paying little attention to politics.

Cultural ideals help shape what people expect from politics and inspires them to work together for a collective purpose. However, politics is more than shared ideals and common effort. It is also a struggle for power and advantage. Political scientist Harold Lasswell described it as the struggle over “who gets what, when and how.” 

It is the process through which society settles its conflicts.

There are two sources of political conflict. One is scarcity. Because societies do not have enough wealth to satisfy everyone’s desires, there is conflict over the distribution of resources. Another source of political conflict are differences in values. People see issues differently as a result of differences in their beliefs, experiences, and interests.

Politics is the process by which it is determined whose values will prevail in society. Those who have power win out and are able to control governing authority and policy choices. In the United States, no one faction controls all power and policy. Majorities govern on some issues, while other issues are dominated by groups, elites, corporations, individuals through judicial action, or officials who hold public office.

Politics in the United States plays out through rules of the game that include democracy, constitutionalism, and free markets. Democracy is rule by the people, which in practice refers to a representative system of government in which the people rule through their elected officials. Constitutionalism refers to rules that limit the rightful power of government over citizens. A free market system assigns private parties the dominant role in determining how economic costs and benefits are allocated.



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