Politics Explained

What explains party politics, campaign promises, broken campaign promises, smear campaigns, political scandals, imaginary political scandals, voting behavior, and public policy? Sociology explains that stuff. Really. Consider these sociological observations:

1. People form groups for all sorts of reasons and to pursue all sorts of goals. Advancing our vision of how society should work is generally going to be a group effort. So, people band together with people who have roughly similar views and form political parties. (Note that this can happen even in places where some or all political parties are outlawed.)

2. The concept of democratic rule predates the United States by at least 2000 years.

3. Politicians make campaign promises that they may or may not be able to keep because other politicians make campaing promises. And we seem to expect these promises to be made, if not kept. The expectation sets up a competitive political environment where nobody dares say  "I’ll try real hard to do good things."  or "Realistically, a freshman Representative can’t expect to accomplish a whole bunch, but I’ll do what I can."

4. Who’s to blame for low voter turnout? The lazy people who can’t be bothered? Yes, that really is the answer.

5. Political ideas don’t just emerge out of somebody’s head or from smoke-filled back room. Both of those things are involved but a lot more also goes on here. People evaluate ideas in light of what their audience will like, they get pressure/encouragement/inspiration from interest groups. powerful lobbyists, and books. God help us but politicians also test ideas on focus groups.

Sidebar: You did know that politics involved selling didn’t you? Politicians sell their influence and their ideas.

That’s enough sociological rambling for today folks!

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~ by chetdavis on September 19, 2006.

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