These days, America is storm-tossed by endless political debate, the 24-hour news cycle, haranguing, and even physical combat over Trump’s government. I wonder why people don’t want to calm down? Trump has done nothing to harass U.S. citizens. Sure, he’s ramped up deportations of illegal aliens, but these are not citizens nor individuals endowed with constitutional rights. The threat of two wars may be looming–“may be” are the operative words. But, ach, why does anyone put themselves through such an aggravating and inconclusive thing as politics?
A clear thinker would point out that a community’s common good is the goal for any true politician. He strives to implement policies intended for the general welfare, public order, moral behavior (as much as the law can prudently enforce), and the defense of life, liberty, and property. Many competing avenues exist on to how to produce the public good, which we see in schools of philosophy and economics: Austrian Economics, conservatism, liberalism, socialism, capitalism, capitalism, communism, fascism, Islam, monarchy, constitutionalism, democracy, etc. All these modes claim to effect the best possible society.
Before one selects a particular avenue, however, one must start with an understanding of man: what is the final end for man and what is the best way to achieve this? A man of commonsense would come to the crux of the matter by saying that happiness is the goal of man. Well, one has only scratched the surface with this answer! We can only find the answer to what will make man happy when we determine what separates man from the beasts. (Or, is man just a beast which can be satisfied with food, drink, shelter, and a mate?) The things peculiar to man among animal life forms are intellect, reason, and will. Other animals may be smart; but they act according to instinct, and you won’t find a philosopher among them. Only man ponders the meaning of his existence. Only man needs to ascribe a purpose to his life in order to have fulfillment.
In looking at man, we see both animal needs and a higher set of needs–needs endemic to a being with a rational nature. Contrary to materialistic systems like communism and socialism, society must be fertile ground for supplying both of these sets of needs, and the government needs to help society remain such. An amazing structure is required for man to find his full potential, and modern society has divided labor in a myriad of ways such that we all depend on on another. Other than that, a man needs family, friends, work, community, aids to thought, aids to beauty, time to think, structures providing meaning, and the freedom to pursue his particular happiness. Not everyone can fit the same mold, and it would be wrong to attempt to construct a system which so forced them.
Ultimately, the purpose of the government is to enforce rules which allow for people to obtain the necessities of their physical, emotional, and spiritual lives for themselves. Such being the case, how much attention does the average citizen need to devote to politics? Enough to prevent the government from breaking a good system or from perpetuating corruption.
Politicians often spend their whole lives tinkering with the system and never see the society they envision. You and I, dear reader, probably only need to spend an hour per week on political questions–barring a real crisis. More than that is treating politics as entertainment, and it usually leaves people more mad than amused.