Politics in the 21st Century: Why The Public Avoid It & Why It Matters
The way people view politics nowadays is different from the way it used to be viewed in the early centuries. It has been dirtied to such an extent the general public steer clear from being involved in it. This poses a problem because politics is everywhere and it affects each and every person (positively or negatively), whether one realizes it or not. Therefore, there is need of ensuring every person from a teenager to an elderly is involved in politics.
It is still unknown when politics began. However, what is known is that politics began after two or more people began disagreeing about something and a solution had to be found. For instance, one person had an idea about something while his friend had a different idea about the same thing. Both of them were not agreeing. Therefore, there was a need of a third person (party) to come with an idea to satisfy the two even if it’s not a hundred percent satisfactory.
In order for people to live in harmony or in a state of peace, decisions need to be made in order to realize that expectation. A group can consist of two or more people. In families there is politics. A father can come up with decisions to ensure there are good relations between his children. In a community it’s the elders who come up with decisions to realize the same. Also, this rings true when it involves a country as a whole whereby it’s the politicians who come up with decisions.
Nonetheless, there is so much in politics debate still rages as to what constitutes politics. Various theories and explanations have sprung up trying to clarify what politics is all about. Per se, there is no universal definition of politics. Nevertheless, Merriam Webster Dictionary has come close to define politics.
It defines politics as “the activities, actions, and policies that are used to gain and hold power in a government or to influence a government.” Another definition of politics from the same dictionary is “a person’s opinions about the management of government.”
When talking about political activities it simply implies being involved actively in either supporting or opposing a particular political party, or a candidate for a particular political party such as president or governor. On the other hand, political policies refers to fixed guidelines, rules and codes which are either created or implemented by the government to ensure it fulfils its long-term goals. These policies are meant to influence the decision making of the government and to ensure actions are not carried overboard but are within the boundaries created.
Reviewing the second definition from Merriam Webster Dictionary, the opinion of people in the way the government carries out its activities is important. It shows whether people have been satisfied or not with the way the government is managing its duties.
For the rules or laws to become effective there must be an authority who exercises power. Without power the principles meant to advance the betterment of humanity will become useless. The rules or laws are meant to influence the power (government) to do something in order to realize people live in peace by relating well to each other and ensuring the survival of the human race.
On the other hand, we have political parties. The political parties are meant to ensure they keep the government on check. Theirs is to see the government does its activities according to what has been laid out in the constitution. Also, the members of parliament from different political parties ensure before laws are enacted, they need to review it to see whether it is for the benefit of people or is suppressing their rights.
Now, knowing what politics is, the question arises: what makes the majority of citizens in any given country hate politics? There are a number of reasons. The first one is politicians seem to vie for governmental positions simply either to gain power or earn a sizeable income (or the benefits associated from ‘stealing’ money from the government). Why is this case? In developing countries (and some developed countries), a year never passes by without several politicians implicated in a government scandal. It seems being in the government gives a person the leeway to get huge sums of money in an easier way. Looking at power, it’s evident some people feel having a senior position in the government enables them exercise power the way they want. It makes them feel they’re on top of people.
The second reason is the exchange of words between candidates or politicians from different political parties. Developing countries especially in Africa are notorious in this ‘blame-insult’ game. This does not exempt developed countries (though they’re few compared to developing countries). The recent one is the comments that were made by the president of Philippines against the president of United States, Barack Obama. Such comments question the integrity of a politician. There are comments a political figure is not supposed to utter because such a person needs to be in control of his/her own words and actions since he/she is a public figure. In fact, there are politicians in some countries who were recorded fighting against each other, fists doing the job and at times some throwing chairs and bottles against each other. Integrity lacks in such a case, and a person who lacks integrity cannot be trusted.
Thirdly, many politicians seem to compete for a senior government position in order to reap the benefits of a luxury. And, there are no notorious groups of politicians who take advantage of this than the lawmakers. They are the ones who make laws, so they’re the ones who gain a lot by adding extra benefits to the benefits they already have.
Lastly, history has shown if a president does not want to step down war is bound to happen. If a politician or leader has been defeated and refuses to accept the fact, conflict is inevitable to take place. So, why bother to vote for a politician when you know the votes are going to be rigged or a politician will refuse to step down as a result of a defeat? It’s better to accept the fact the candidate who entered in that seat in dubious ways is the new president or politician of the country or a region in the country.
Hence, it will be noted the reason why people hate politics is because of politicians. The politicians don’t act as required and don’t work for the benefit of the people who chose them. Nevertheless, in as much as people have good reasons to not want to be involved in politics is as much important to realize politics is everywhere. They cannot hide from it. We have to embrace it and find ways to ensure politics work for the good of us and not against us.
The media has a role to play in ensuring it reports news without being biased, and educates people on politics. But as the case is, media houses are divided preferring a particular political party or a candidate of a particular political party. This divides people and at times makes people hate media stations. Media stations need to present news as it, provide genuine opinions and educate people on why they need to be involved in politics. Throwing words against a particular candidate or politician is not their job. Theirs is to provide an honest opinion as studies have shown people tend to trust media houses more than the government. Influencing the public in a negative way is driving the country into division, confusion and conflict.
The citizens of a country need to be involved in the policies that are made by the government. It is the citizens who choose which people need to be in the executive positions in the government. As their employers they need to review the laws that are set out by lawmakers. Despite the fact many of these laws are never passed to the public for reviewing, it’s upon the people to demand it to be the case. It affects them more than the lawmakers so they have to see whether the laws work for them or against them.
The non-governmental organizations play an important role in influencing the public. Apart from media stations, people have more faith in NGOs than in governmental organizations. This is because in a large scale NGOs work for the good of people. The reason why some countries have been listed as the most corrupt is because there are NGOs that monitor the government’s activities. The countries that are less corrupt or not corrupt at all (if there are any), something doesn’t seem to feel right. It means NGOs don’t enjoy the freedom they’re required to have and it’s only the governmental organizations that monitor government’s activities which to say the truth, it will report a little about corruption in the government or not report at all. As such, NGOs have a better role in educating the public on the benefits of political involvement. They can do this through open-air meetings, seminars and conferences.
Similarly, this rings true with religious institutions. The religious leaders need to become conversant with politics and educate their members on the importance of being involved in politics. Most religious people shy away from politics believing they need to concentrate in spiritual matters not realizing even God has ‘His’ own government meaning ‘He’ practices politics.
The Ministry of Education needs to come up with syllabus or curriculum whereby teachers have an opportunity to educate students about politics. Politics is an everyday life and from early on it’s imperative to let students know from a younger age politics is here to stay so they cannot avoid it. The saying ‘Youths are the future leaders of a nation’ is a lie to whomever invented it. The youths are the leaders of today since the majority of population in any nation are youths. They are the ones who will be affected a lot unlike the middle-aged or the elderly.
In conclusion, politics has received a bad name due to various factors that have soiled it as shown above. Politics has existed for as long as human beings have been alive. And it is something that is going to stay for as long as people will continue to live. It affects our day-to-day lives and dictates what is needed of us. Some policies work for our favor while some are against our benefits. People can be involved in politics in different ways: voicing their opinions or discontent in a civilized manner such as holding peaceful demonstrations, sharing their views in social media, in newspapers and any other avenues where they can be heard. They should ensure a politician who has been ‘lazy’ in his/her responsibilities is not voted for during the next General Election. They should ensure come General Election, they are ready to vote a worthy politician. They should not be allowed to be divided by media stations, social media, politicians or religious leaders. They should be enlightened and educated on what to look out in a prospective candidate before voting for him/her. They should be educated on why they need to be involved in policymaking since the policies or laws are made for them, and that they have a right to hold their government or politicians accountable for inappropriateness of government resources. They should become aware of the current state of affairs in their countries and worldwide. What activities are their governments involved in? Are they good? If not, they need to voice their discontent, and find ways of compelling the government to do something about it. And, lastly, they should be enlightened politics is meant to ensure there’s a good relation between individuals, communities, nation as a whole and between countries.