Politics for the common good

Imagine if the point of politics was to look after the common good. What would that look like? It would have to start from a fundamental belief in the human right to health, dignity and a decent quality of life. It could hardly therefore put the interests of big business ahead of the interests of ordinary people. It would not see wealth as the measure of a human being.

Politics for the common good would take care of essential things. It would be driven to make sure that the air we breathe and the water we drink is safe and free from pollution. It would make health care and education available to all. As we clearly can’t guarantee everyone full time employment, a political system interested in the good of all would figure out a way of handling the economics that didn’t leave the unemployed destitute. Probably it would bring in something like a citizen’s income. Tedious labour and hard labour would be shared out.

If the good of all were the priority, we’d think about the good of future generations, too. We’d build with an eye for durability and beauty. We’d find built in obsolescence unacceptable. We’d recognise the good that is nature, in wild things and landscapes and we’d protect those too and avoid exploitation – for their sake and for ours. We’d promote work life balance, rest, leisure, and quality of life. In fact, progress could not be measured by GDP in this context, because the only progress worth considering is one of collective wellbeing. We’d be more interested in happiness than in profit.

We’d throw away the silly idea of trickledown economics – which manifestly doesn’t work, and look for better ways to share the abundance. Education would be about enrichment and personal development. Health would be about helping people be healthy first and foremost, not selling cures for avoidable problems.

We’d have to start asking big questions about what it means to be happy, to be fulfilled, to live well. What constitutes ‘enough’ in terms of material possessions? How do we improve the quality of life for everyone?

And when you start thinking this way, it becomes pretty obvious that the common good is not the basis on which our political systems operate. None of the above things are priorities in most countries. We need to change that.

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About Nimue Brown

Druid, author, dreamer, folk enthusiast, parent, wife to the most amazing artist -Tom Brown. Drinker of coffee, maker of puddings. Exploring life as a Pagan, seeking good and meaningful ways to be, struggling with mental health issues and worried about many things. View all posts by Nimue Brown

7 responses to “Politics for the common good

  • a tale from yesterday for tomorrow

    What is missing is that people who have vision about the things that you are talking, are averse towards joining politics and people who join politics, are either not interested or have forgotten the cause of joining it in the first place.
    Few who have both the qualities find it hard to survive with those visions.

    You have pointed it rightly that questioning is an essential part of progressive society!.
    Socrates within us is dying.

    Nice article!

  • silvershirl

    Boundaries need to be in place too, for criminals and such. Politics isnt easy, I can see this now, but our parties are corrupt and there isnt a party that covers what I want. I really struggle with it.

  • Christopher Blackwell

    The Irony of politics for the common good is that it would be seen as a radical, perhaps social disruptive thing. Well it would be for those that the present system benefits, but it would be a life saver for everyone else.

    Notice an economic oddity. No one ever asks if any war is too expensive. However anything, that benefits most people, is seen as far too costly to consider. Here in the United States, if we stopped going to war, we could easily afford all the things that benefit most people.

    • Nimue Brown

      we’re going through that here in the UK – we can afford a trillion pounds for a new nuclear submarine, but there’s no money to feed the hungry or shelter the homeless. A sick, sick system.

  • firespringsfolktales

    William Morris would recognise these ideas! Regarding the money issue – it’s similar at work. In a meeting last week, we were told ‘there’s always money’ and yet we get slapped down for trying to buy e.g. the pencils and pens we require for marking objects, or when we suggest that the organisation might like to pay for volunteers tea and coffee…

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