Democracy versus Politics

I have often seen democracy defined as:

  1. “a form of government in which the people freely govern themselves; where the executive (or administrative) and law-making (or legislative) power is given to persons chosen by the population; the free people”.

Politics, on the other hand, is defined as:

(Used with a sing. verb)

  • The art or science of government or governing, especially the governing of a political entity, such as a nation, and the administration and control of its internal and external affairs.

(Used with a sing. or pl. verb)

  • The activities or affairs engaged in by a government, politician, or political party:  The methods or tactics involved in managing a state or government

I have never taken this into account when discussing politics with my peers however I have recently come to understand that what I am really talking about is democracy.  This is an important epiphany to me as it helps me to restructure my dialogue.  I have spend too much time debating “democracy” with individuals while believing we were discussing politics.  This is why semantics is so important and why framing topics in a context that is understood by both debaters is required.  I came to realize this almost twenty years ago but now realize it never really laid an anchor in my mind.

I was writing a policy manual for British Columbia’s Office of the Fire Commissioner and there was a lot of discussion regarding public safety.  As a former staff person from a major inner-city hospital in Calgary which meant a public health environment, public safety had a very different meaning to me.

After reviewing other sector policy that also dealt with “public safety” I came to realize each sector defined it to meet their particular needs.  For example the police had one perspective; the federal government air regulations had a different perspective while air traffic controllers had a different perspective.  They were all dealing with public safety but coming from a very different direction based on the approach the nature of their definition required.  And they were all right but it did highlight the need to put things into context.  When this light was clicked on over the weekend it made it clear to me why I need to put my beliefs into context.

I am willing to concede to the politics of any ruling party regardless of whether I agree with their philosophy or not.  That is the nature of democracy.  However I am not prepared to concede to what I believe is political rhetoric undermining our democratic process.  Stay tuned and I will be back!

Just one man’s opinion.


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