We hope our leaders never forget what is real

“It’s just politics” is something people say, and often rightly so. But not always. What they mean is that the political process is corrupt, with special interests able to gain special access, or that politicians are just in it for themselves, or that politics is all about favoritism and who owes what to whom. Those can all be true, but there is another aspect to politics.

Politics is also the pragmatic practice of establishing the proper functions of government. Different people hold different standards as to what this means. Some believe government should protect individual liberties, and that’s about it. Others believe government should do everything — help people from the cradle to the grave, in every way possible. And there is, of course, a whole host of beliefs in between.

So, politics is the implementation of governing ideas on society. It should be based on what can be known and what has been observed about human societies. Because only politics that is based in reality will produce government that can actual function and survive. Communism, as an example, cannot and will not work. It should never be tried again. Fascism, likewise, has proven itself cruel and impossible.

We might suggest that we are all learning that democracy that indulges in excessive spending cannot work either. Modern Greece knows this. Other nations that lean heavily on socialism will know it too. Like an individual who runs up too much debt, insolvency looms for these nations.

As our states, Iowa and Minnesota, and our federal government currently go about their processes of formulating budgets, we hope our leaders will remember that they are accountable to voters, yes, but they are even more accountable to something else — reality. Public coffers are not bottomless pits of money. And doing too much for citizens takes away their incentive to do things for themselves, thus hurting them. Reality can be ignored, but it cannot be evaded.