What is politics?


Looking back on it, this probably should have been my first post ever.

But, you know what, I DO WHAT I WANT!

Seriously though, you should know what politics is.

A nice world … ūüėź

The first principle of politics: People want stuff, or certain outcomes.

This isn’t drama, and politics doesn’t assume that there is some unattainable purpose for humans. To the contrary, politics assumes concrete intentions and interests, and assumes people use various methods to get what they want.

When defining what politics is, you MUST assume that people want stuff. Then, you have to define groups who want stuff, and define the approach they used to get that desired outcome or thing (their strategy).

A lot of people evaluate politics in a BAD way.

… Look at these not-very-useful political statements:

— White people want to be rich and powerful.

— Black people don’t want to work, ever.

— People on food stamps are lazy.

— Hispanics are just trying to milk our welfare system.

What is wrong with these statements (other than the obviously wrongness of them)?

From an analytical standpoint, the groups of people are WAY too broad to make any coherent argument. Categorizing all white, black, or Hispanic people is impossible. Same with the category of ALL welfare recipients. …. these are stupid statements, and just flat wrong. This assumes that MILLIONS of people want the same thing, which they don’t.

Here would be something more useful (now correct, who knows?):

— Most couples who make over $500,000 a year probably want to be rich and powerful.

— A majority of high school aged kids want to be lazy.

— The food stamp program benefits maybe 60% of applicants; measures should be taken to screen more extensively¬†for the other 40% of applicants who exploit the system.

… from these statements, I’ve quantified a number of people by using words like ‘most,’ ‘majority,’ or I’ve added a percentage quantifier, which makes me sound really smart. Another thing I did there was add a¬†more-precise grouping — such as couples who make over 500k, high school aged people, or welfare¬†applicants. This makes a more-precise idea, and a more-refined¬†method of attacking political problems and such.

Notice how I didn’t use any racial groupings for political statements. Why? Because it doesn’t help anything, and it reinforces divisions among people, and it’s wrong.¬†There is NO way to assume one racial group of¬†people want one unified thing …¬†so to¬†people who continually do this, don’t.

Regardless of what you say, and how you say it, politics is the art and strategy of how different groups of people (or individuals) get what they want.

How does politics work?

Lots of ways; just look around and try to see how people get what they want.

Children appeal to the softer side of parental emotions for stuff (like cookies and such). Teenagers want to do what they want, and use a lot of techniques to try and get what they want.

Now, try to define how these groups try and get what they want (if you can clearly identify what they want):

— Working class joes (construction and such).


— College students


— Single people

For these groups, I would assume the following: Working class joes want the highest hourly wage while maximizing their leisure time. CEOs want to return a profit to the investors. College students want cheaper college. Parents want good schools, to own a property, and safe neighborhoods, and single people want property and stuff to do around them. Is this fair? I would think so.

Now we know what these groups of people want. Good. Now what do they do to get what they want (strategy)?

Well, back in the day, the joes created groups called unions that would threaten strikes if they didn’t get good pay and enough leisure time. CEOs do LOTS of stuff to make profits, but the easiest methods is controlling production cost (cutting or adding jobs), restructuring (renaming positions and adding or subtracting jobs), or increase the product’s cost. College students demonstrate and go to capitol hill. Parents use tax money all sorts of ways (and many in wealthier neighborhoods try to limit taxes), and there are PTA groups, neighborhood watch groups, and all sorts of other groupings of parents. Single people really do whatever they want.

How does understanding politics help me in any way?

Hmm … lots of ways.

First, you can look at the world in terms of power; as opposed to through an emotional lens. If you see pure intentions, then you can more-easily predict how people will act and react (depending on how good you are at identifying the correct groupings and such).

Second, especially if you’re single, it’s easier to spot when you’re personally being taken advantage of. I mean really, most people are really bad about masking their intentions, and it’s really easy to see what people want once you start looking for it.

Third, you encounter politics every day in your professional life. Learning to “prioritize” is a fancy term by business types, and it’s really just understanding who is more important than others, and doing that work first. … Also, business people have all sorts of really lame jargon that they use, so learn to see through that BS.

Fourth, you can understand how different groups of people are developing. While international politics takes some more training to understand, domestic stuff is a bit easier to understand if you know the political rules, and pay attention to each group’s political strategy. There are LOTS of formal political organizations that represent lots of groups of people with clearly stated strategies, so pay attention to those if you’re in that grouping.

Fifth, understanding politics makes everyone more pleasant. I wish that everyone knew that I can see their intentions … because then we can all just admit that we want stuff and figure out how to get the optimal outcome for everyone. Instead, people think they’re sneaky … and they’re not. By trying to evaluate intentions and interests, I can clearly see how people around me strategize — and some of it is pretty funny, because it’s painfully obvious. So let’s all do ourselves a favor and not pretend that people are altruistic and all want the best for everyone else; because that’s just false.

Sixth, you can navigate life easier in general, and it opens up all sorts of different ways of thinking. If you analyze politics correctly, you should be able to evaluate economics as well. This, in turn, should open up space for you to make money. Additionally, if you know the scientific method, you can apply your theories, test them, and try to make sense of stuff. If you know stuff, then you should be able to predict stuff based on past behaviors, and if you can do that, you are positioned to make good decisions.

So, hopefully the question posed above is answered.


9 thoughts on “What is politics?

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