Politics is the way that people living in groups make decisions. Politics is about making agreements between people so that they can live together in groups such as tribes, cities, or countries. In large groups, such as countries, some people may spend a lot of their time making such agreements. These people are called politicians. Politicians, and sometimes other people, may get together to form a government. The study of politics in universities is called political science, political studies, or public administration.
In everyday life, the term "politics" refers to the way that countries are governed, and to the ways that governments make rules and laws. Politics can also be seen in other groups, such as in companies, clubs, schools, and churches.
The government tries to lead the whole group. Governments do things such as:
One of the ways the government leads the group is by making laws and rules which tell everybody what they can and can not do. The government makes these laws so that society will be safe and well-ordered. The law that "you must not drink alcohol while driving a car" stops people from drunk driving, which could kill people. The law "you must wear a helmet on a motorcycle" makes sure that people protect themselves
The government can also control people and what happens in a country in other ways besides making laws.
Politics is often compared to ethics (ideas about right and wrong). Ethics is a more abstract study of right and wrong. Ethics is usually more concerned with principle than law or politics or diplomacy, so many people think ethics is not practical. But without some agreement on ethics, there is probably no way to even have a debate, laws or an election. There is always some agreement on ethics and personal conduct in a political system.
In most countries, people have formed political parties to put forward their ideas. There is usually some disagreement between people within a party, but they work together because they feel that they agree on enough things, and they will have more power if they join together. They agree to take the same position on many issues, and agree to support the same changes to law and the same leaders. An election is usually a competition between different parties. Some examples of parties are the Liberal party, the Labor party and the Greens.
In the 1800s, John Stuart Mill developed the "liberal" idea of politics. Mill said that democracy is the most important political development of the 1800s. He said that there should be more protection for individual rights against the government.
Bernard Crick wrote a list of the political virtues, which were about best practices of politics itself.
There are also disagreements between different countries. Attempts to solve the problem with meetings are called diplomacy. This is politics between nations instead of politics within nations. If the problems are not resolved by diplomatic meetings they can lead to war or terrorism.
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