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Policy and Politics:

The answers to these questions are policy and the process of answering these questions is politics.

Regardless of how rational and orderly governance and politics are in principle, they are not exempt from the forces and proclivities present within other entities including families, communities, businesses, other organizations, and among people more generally. Resources and control do not distribute evenly. Some politicians gain more resources and control than others. Some are more successful accruing power and influence than others. Some more successfully sustain their political careers than others. Whether focusing on local boards or councils or on state or federal legislatures, the result is the same. A few politicians have outsized authority, others have minimal influence, and others merely pick a side on questions and issues and go along to get along.

Turn attention back to the seven earlier questions. At one extreme, the first six questions could get an emphatic “NONE.” In that case, the last question would likely get an equally emphatic “COMPLETE AND UNLIMITED.” No one has responsibility for anyone else and government has no right to interfere with what people want and do. What is usually called the “conservative” position is much more nuanced than that but does lean in that direction.

At the opposite extreme, the first six questions could get an emphatic “A LOT,” while the seventh question would likely get an emphatic “SOME BUT LIMITED.” There should be regulation and restriction on some personal and business activity, limits on the resources and control of most entities, and support and compensation for people and other entities unable to manage and cope with their needs, problems, and vulnerabilities. What is usually called the “liberal” position is much more nuanced than that but does lean in that direction.

The hope is that the two extremes will meet through negotiation and compromise somewhere near the middle and government will serve its intended purpose: protecting the safety and success of its citizens. Contrary to most of the popular media and most political pundits, Governments at all levels within the United States and likely in most other national jurisdictions are mostly successful with some remarkable exceptions. In those exceptions, there is generally no government present in the sense discussed here.

If one disagrees that most governments are at least moderately successful, the points of disagreement likely cluster around the seven earlier questions. They believe that current policy is turning the relevant response to one or more of the questions in the wrong direction. Much over-simplified, they believe that things are turning too conservative or too liberal. Nonetheless, government is working for most but by no means for all. From either perspective, the community, the state, the country is headed down the road to disaster. Of course, disaster is possible but has been possible for well over two hundred years. It is not something new. Alternatively, it is no more likely than it has been in the past and less likely than at several times in the past. Government and governance is still working.