Friday, May 30, 2008

Political Science vs. Government – Did They Make Us Lose The Way?


Political Science vs. Government – Did They Make Us Lose The Way?
710 words

Harlingen, Texas, May 31, 2008: Back in those long ago days when I was
a college undergraduate, I selected a major. It was called
Government. Now this word distinction is important because in those
days our institutions of higher learning thought they were obligated
to teach about the art of governance. Today it is difficult to find a
major field of study listed as Government. Instead it has been
replaced by Political Science.

These two titles are now considered to be the same, but really have
markedly different meanings. As defined in Webster’s New Collegiate
Dictionary, the primary definition of Government or Governance is
“moral conduct or behavior, discretion, in the act or process of
governing”. Political Science, which has replaced that specific
college major, is defined as “a social science concerned chiefly with
the description and analysis of political and especially governmental

You can see the difference at a glance. Colleges and universities of
the past taught young students about how to conduct themselves morally
and with discretion while governing. Today these institutions teach
about the workings of governmental bodies and the politics of working
in such environments.

Just as the lessons on governance have vanished with the passage of
time, so has the morality and discretion taught in those now forgotten
classrooms. In place of those studies our students learn about the
“politics” of government, which is in reality learning about how to
win office and hold control of government. This is a very wrong-
headed approach to how the public arena should be viewed.
Because the virtues of public service have been diminished, people now
entering into these fields learn primarily from those who currently
hold positions of power. They learn “politics”, not “government”.
The difference can best be expressed in a current tongue-in-cheek
definition of the word. Politics (n.): 1. A multitude of special
interests masquerading as a contest of principles. 2. The conduct of
public affairs by public officials for private advantage and private

Because political science or politics is the rule, rather than the
exception, we have an unending collection of political jokes that
range from…”Our politicians are so crooked that when they die, we have
to screw them into the ground”, to “Question: How do you tell if a
politician is lying?
Answer: His lips are moving!”

Seldom does a week pass without us hearing about politicos who have
stolen from the public, lied to their constituents, cheated on their
families, committed sexual misconduct, distorted their record, padded
their resume, taken credit for good things they had no part in
advancing, put blame on the backs of others for their own failings,
accepted bribes or falsified records.

If they are not into committing any of the above, they are standing
around with a moist finger raised high to check which way the
political wind is blowing. This is done so frequently that most folks
think it is some form of political salute.

There are really very few office holders on the national scene that
can be considered as quality individuals who are dedicating their
lives to moral conduct and behavior, discretion and the art of
governance. In their place we have managed to substitute political
parties and political animals that find it next to impossible to be
honest with the public. Government is gone…. replaced by politics,
politics, politics…or win at any cost. It has turned us into a nation
that constantly votes for the least offensive of several very bad
choices…and we get bad officials as the result of our own actions.
Even staying home and not voting isn’t a good option, because then, we
are giving another vote to the other guy we don’t want to see in office.

Some people think we can blame political science, a preoccupation with
enhancing political parties and a failure to demand quality candidates
for the mess we have in today’s public arena. When the academics
stopped teaching government we lost all those great young minds that
dreamed of meaningful public service. We allowed our nation to become
a tool of the political elite…and America today is the big loser.

Semper Fidelis
Tom Segel

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