What is a Politic? According to the Oxford Dictionary, politics revolves around the activities involved in getting and using power in public life and being able to influence decisions that affect a country or society.
While the Bahasa Indonesia Dictionary explains that politics is the knowledge of the state administration or the basis and system of government. Politics could also be defined as all matters and actions such as policies, tactics, and other forms of way regarding the government of a state or another state.
Politics is also involved in conflict and cooperation. In the global political system, where there is no higher power that could bind and governs countries, there would always be competition between them in order to survive.
This competition would then result in conflict between nations in order to strengthen their power and undermine the threats.
This could also end in cooperation. With the unequal distribution of power and resources, some countries need to cooperate with others to gain something they don’t have.
The Definition of Politics
Although there is a lot of definition regarding definition of politics, below are the definition and interpretations of politics according to experts:
1. Andrew Haywood
According to Heywood, Politics is a country’s way to create, maintain, and amending regulations that can be used to guide public life.
This explanation also emphasized that politics cannot be separated from conflict and cooperation.
This happens because of the difference in needs between every individual which could result in friction.
2. Gabriel Almond
Almond explains that politics is an activity related to the control of public decision-making where the control will be supported by an instrument that has an authoritative and coercive nature.
The classic theory of Aristoteles explains that politics is an effort made to realize the common good.
4. Miriam Budiarjo
According to Budiarjo, politics is various activities that are related to the processes of determining the goals of a political system and carrying out the goals.
5. Max Weber
Weber explained that politics is a means of efforts used to carry out to influence the distribution of power, both between states or between laws of a state.
6. Han Kelsen
Kelsen has two different explanations regarding politics.
Politics as ethics are used in accordance with human or individual goals so that they can live perfectly.
Politics is a technique related to the ways or methods of humans and individuals in achieving a certain goal.
7. Carl Schmidt
According to Schmidt, politics is a world with people who can make decisions rather than abstract institutions.
In a way, all those definitions and interpretations above have the understanding that politics is a way of making decisions for public life.
Politics refers to a way of making agreements between people and regulations so that people can live side by side or in groups in a tribe, city or even a country.
Politics used to seek, create, and implement power that exists in society to manage the government, the people, and the political system according to the existing norms and laws.
What are Politicians?
From the idea above, we could see that leaders or representatives are needed to implement ideas and take actions in order to conduct a political system that benefits all. These people are what we call politicians.
Politicians are the people who used and enable politics inside a political system. The identity of politicians influences which policies get selected, how well they are implemented, and who benefits from them.
For autocracies where the rulers are subject to minimal restrictions, it also applies to representative democracies because they lack fully enforceable commitments in their policy platforms.
Therefore, the public would like to elect highly able policymakers to implement policies that can gain a given objective. As a collective, voters want to elect policymakers who represent diverse interests, so that government will pursue broad objectives.
But even if it is possible to select competent politicians, doing so may make it harder to ensure broad representation when competence is unequally distributed.
Elitism vs. Meritocracy?
In a world where ability determines socioeconomic status, one should expect a trade-off between competence and broad representation.
But the reality is that wealthier families, or the elite, have privileged access to political power. The result will be an unintentionally competent political class because of selection based on privilege.
Another possibility of elitism is an exclusive meritocracy, which selects the competent and makes the political class another form of elitist.
But against elitism, there is an inclusive meritocracy, in which politics selects competent politicians broadly representative of all social backgrounds. But nowadays, this method is overused to encourage diversity, which may sound good on paper, but have a negative implication.
This negative implication appears in the form of a quota system which does not select people according to their abilities but instead creates a forced diversity of people in order to develop a more tolerant image towards the public.
To determine which one of these regimes works most efficiently, we ask whether the political selection is driven mostly by social origin or by individual traits.
Politicians turn out to be positively selected, not only relative to the population but also relative to their own siblings who share their social background. This strong role for individual ability rules out the pure elitist regime.
What is a Political Campaign?
But how does one become a politician? To become politicians, we need people to elect us. How do persuade people to choose us instead of other variety of people who also run as a politician? We need to share our idea with the public and this is why there are political campaigns.
A political campaign is an organized effort which seeks to influence the decision-making progress within a specific group.
In democracies, political campaigns often refer to electoral campaigns, by which representatives are chosen or referendums are decided.
In modern politics, the most high-profile political campaigns are focused on general elections and candidates for head of state or head of government, usually a president or prime minister.
To create a successful campaign, politicians need to learn about the existing public condition, what and who is affected by the campaign issue both positively and negatively, improvements needed for the campaign, and resources, tactics, and tools that are available to implement a campaign that will address the issue.
A campaign strategy should answer an issue that is currently experienced by the public, how to solve it, what to do after that, what improvement needed by the administration in order to solve it, and who is the target audiences that are affected by the issue, how are the people relates to the issue, and who will be affected by the campaign.
Answering key questions repeatedly, at each stage of your campaign, about the problem, solution, stakeholders, and targets as well as the tactics, message, and tools you will use will help develop your campaign strategy.
What is a Political Issue?
The political issue is an issue that is wide concern among the public that is needed to be managed by the government to solve it.
Usually, it involves state security and interest, but after the end of the Cold War, there is a debate regarding the non-military threats that exist. This includes other types of threat that were not military in nature and that affected people rather than states.
This expanded the security agenda by including issues such as poverty, health, discrimination, human rights, environmental issues, and other human security issues.
For example, in the United States, there are the Black Live Movements that pushed the agenda of equal human rights without seeing the colour of the skin. Or unequal distributions of power among ethnic groups which are usually left by imperialism.
The most talked about issue in Indonesia is racism and discrimination. This is mostly because it was hugely covered by the media than other issues. With the large numbers of ethnic groups in Indonesia, there was always friction between them.
The issue varied from discrimination towards an ethnic group or religion, the war between tribes, dismissive toward some beliefs or religions, and escalated to the violation of human rights.
In Indonesia, we still have environmental issues such as the Citarum River which is regarded as the world’s filthiest river. There is also the forest burning in Borneo, people living in the slums, unequal distributions of infrastructure, education inequality, and labour exploitations.
In conclusion, political issues are issues that needed to be solved with the use of political power and system. Either by reconstructing the system that discriminates against some people of different cultural backgrounds, or by solving a new issue that appears to be a threat to public social stability.
What are Political Moderates?
How would a politician or a group of politicians create regulations that benefit all people? In the current political system, which is set as a competition between political parties, most of them are running to fulfil their party’s interest instead of the public. This is why there is a term called political moderates.
Political moderates are a group of politicians that use politics for the good of people not limited by geography, race, religion, and other difference between people. They intend to create regulations that do not discriminate against any people of any background.
The Rwandan Genocide, for example, started because of the favouritism from the Belgian imperialist that encourage the Tutsi tribe to have more political privileges. So, after their independence, the Tutsi are much wealthier than the Hutus which create jealousy that results in the genocide of the Tutsis.
Other forms of discriminative regulations were conducted before the Cold War era. Such as the apartheid system in South Africa, segregation in the western world, and even Indonesia’s recognition of only six religions that are considered as limiting some people of other cultures.
According to Haedar Nashir, Chairman of the Muhammadiyah Central Executives, Indonesian tends to be polarized due to various developments. Haedar explained that efforts are needed to neutralize the tense situation and not worsen it.
He believed that the Indonesian people have the power of culture and a moderate mindset. However, the political, socio-economic, and various influences that have come into existence have given rise to a rigid perception. In addition, he added, a religious affiliation that tends to harden correlates with hardened political views.
In Indonesia, most case of discrimination comes in the form of religious dispute. The miseducation of some perpetrators creates irrational hate between religions that results in conflicts.
According to Arbi Sanit, to ensure the stability of politics in Indonesia, needed a moderate leader inside Indonesia’s political spectrum that contain so much variety of cultural backgrounds.
Considering Indonesia contains a large number of ethnic groups and islands, the need of every group would differ. The regulations that are created must consider the needs of each group, their geographic conditions, their difference from other groups or people, and conflicting needs or rights with other groups.
In conclusion, the need for moderate politicians is crucial in the current era where wars and conflict are not as global as they used to be, and identity and human security are considered to be more important than military power and competition between states.
Identity and human security ensure that every cultural background and beliefs are to be recognized and not considered as a way to judge people’s ability.
This issue is much more complicated because of the possibility of conflicting needs between groups which could later be another issue. So, the regulations that should be created need not only to fulfil the needs of everyone but also could solve their conflicting rights.
Politics have many definitions and interpretations, but it could be summarized as a concept with the goal of improving the lives of people and solving issues of the public. With the elected politician as the actor to conduct, create, and implement policies to regulate the laws and norms that are expected so everyone could live equally.
Especially with modern issues such as human security and identity, politics could provide opportunities for everyone to live a proper life.
Editor: Rahmat Al Kafi