What is politics? Explain the importance of politics in daily life.

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jerseygyrl1983 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Merriam-Webster's Dictionary defines 'politics' as the following:

1. activities that relate to influencing the actions and policies of a government or getting and keeping power in a government

2. the work or job of people (such as elected officials) who are part of a government

3. the opinions that someone has about what should be done by governments : a person's political thoughts and opinions

Activities related to "influencing the actions and policies of a government" and "keeping power" include lobbying. A lobby is an organized group that works to influence government policies related to a particular issue or industry. The National Rifle Association, for example, is the most powerful political lobby in the United States. They use their wealth to finance political campaigns. In exchange for the NRA's financial support, politicians agree to refuse to support legislation in support of additional gun regulations.

'Politicking' refers to all of the discussion and activities in which politicians, which include legislators at the state and federal level as well as those with executive power, engage with the purpose of influencing public opinion. The goals are to gain the support of the public and the support of others in power to institute policies that will support a particular issue (e.g., immigration reform) or an industry (e.g., gun rights). This is how politics work on a professional level, among those with the power to create policies that affect all of us.

Merriam-Webster's third definition refers to the personal views that all of us have regarding politics. When we talk about politics, we are really talking about the everyday things that matter to us: the ability to make a decent living, the ability to buy products at a fair price, the ability to plan our families, the ability to be safe, and the right to be respected by other members of society.

Voters frequently support political candidates for local, state, and national office based on their personal concerns, or on what is most relevant in their own lives. For example, if you are an evangelical Christian, you will support and vote for a candidate who shares your religious views and who will apply those views when creating policy measures. If you are a feminist, you will support and vote for a politician who makes women's rights a priority in terms of creating and supporting policies that benefit women.

Even if one is not overtly political, one will support politicians that speak to one's needs. For example, a former factory worker who has been unemployed for several years and is generally uninterested in politics might support and vote for a candidate who talks about bringing factory jobs back to the United States. This person will vote for that candidate with the hope that he or she will help the former employee find work again.

So, when we talk about politics, we are not only talking about the "wheeling-and-dealing" that goes on in Washington, DC with the aim of creating policy measures to benefit a particular issue or industry. In fact, we are mainly talking about the ways in which policies are created and supported based on the impact that those measures will have on people's lives.

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