Why is political thought important in contemporary times?
Political debates are always specific to time and place, but they also involve many issues that theorists have debated for centuries. The role of the government in regulating the economy, for example, is a major point of contention between conservatives and liberals in many countries, especially the United States. This debate has been ongoing since at least the seventeenth century, when mercantilist thinkers began to advocate for increased government intervention to build a nation's economy. Other issues, like same-sex marriage, gun laws, education reform, and foreign policy issues involve issues of minority rights, government power, and the proper relationship between church and state. The opinions of political theorists like John Locke, John Stuart Mill, and even Jean-Jacques Rousseau, are still relevant to these debates, as long as we understand that these opinions were formed in very specific historical contexts. Ultimately, the great political theorists were engaged in thinking about very fundamental issues involving the human condition and how to best improve it, and these issues remain today.