Let’s Talk Politics: The Government’s Influence on Daily Life

Politics is arguably a difficult topic to discuss. While referring to the overarching topic of “governance,” politics has become a catch-all term, applicable to any subject matter. The politicization of daily institutions beyond the realm of government is a reality for the individual, who has to determine how he or she will allow organizational politics to impact him.

Is there a political structure to our daily lives? Consider a club or sport on campus. Group members have responsibilities that are directly linked to the roles they take. There are leadership roles, subgroups and external actors much like a political institution.

To better understand this perspective, let’s look at educational departments. There are distinct levels of service within the group: department chairs, courses and professors, and students, each of which hold a distinct, but integral role to the entirety of the organization. These roles are comparable to that of various positions in America’s political system, whether intentionally or not.

The department chairs can be viewed like executives (organizational leaders): governors, police chiefs, anyone who is tasked with being the leader of a larger organization.

Then there are subgroups, the individual course sections and their respective professors each of which can have the same final goal (being offered on the semester schedule), but have varying levels of interest in the way in which that goal is reached. In other words, each course will have different requirements for the students taking them, but all aspire for a place on the University schedule. Such positions resemble that of federal agencies, which constantly jockey for their own causes under the scope of the larger, unified government.

Lastly, the students could be viewed as the external actors (activist groups). They have a direct influence on how the department and course offerings are organized. When enough students decide not to take a course, the department might decide to decrease the frequency with which it is offered. Additionally, students have an inherent stake in the success of the departments to which they belong, because of their pursuit of a degree. In this sense, students have similar roles to interest groups, which have a stake in the government or organization with the aspiration of influencing it.

Look around the groups to which you belong, and eventually their political structure will become apparent. The American political system is noticeable in a variety of fields and practices.

But if we are all entwined in a politicized world, then why is politics so difficult to talk about? Thomas Jefferson said, “I never considered a difference of opinion in politics, in religion, in philosophy, as cause for withdrawing from a friend.” This quote is the basis for an article in the next issue, which seeks to uncover what makes politics a difficult topic of discussion.