Government vs Politics: What’s the Real Difference?

Government vs Politics: What's the Real Difference?

( – Do you know the difference between government and politics? Is there a difference? Does anyone care anyway?

In fact yes, there’s a difference, and knowing it helps make sense of all the frantic, but often pointless-looking activity that goes on at every level of our government, from the town council all the way to the White House.


A government is a group of people who lead and manage a region, which could be anywhere from a small town up to the entire US. Governments come in different types, but in the 21st century, most of them are elected by the people in some way. It’s responsible for implementing and enforcing the law, providing defense and essential public services, and raising the money to pay for it all.

As well as the group of people who do the governing, the word “government” can also refer to the process itself. Again, it’s all about actually running the town, state or country.


Politics is different from government, but closely linked; basically, it’s the way governing gets done. When a president is elected, the campaign and election is politics. If a bill needs bipartisan support to get through Congress, the discussions to get the extra votes is politics. If the US wants a treaty with another country, the negotiations that produce it are politics.

There’s a clear difference between government and politics, but they rely on each other. Without politics, government couldn’t happen; without government, politics is pointless.

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