A policy is any set of ideas that a person, company, or government puts in place to guide decisions, laws, and more. Small and large businesses alike adopt policies to help shape their company and missions, set standards for employees and influence the way the businesses interact with their clients.
On a larger scale, government policies can affect everyone from individual citizens to the lawmakers themselves. Proposed policies in government may never make it past their proposals, but some make it into law. Some policies even affect more than one government, influencing other nations around the world and their citizens.
What’s the Difference Between Policies and Politics?
We’re going to talk about the important process of creating a policy and turning it into a set of laws that can influence domestic and international affairs. First, let’s talk about the difference between a policy and politics, two terms that can be confusing to decipher.
You can think of policies like the plans put in place to work toward a common goal. An individual might adopt policies to motivate himself to land his dream job, while a business might choose policies that indicate proper procedures for an employee to report harassment on the job.
A government, then, adopts policies that set the goals of the government in motion in all areas, from education to foreign affairs and foreign policy.
Politics refers to the activities of a government and how they relate to the public. You can study politics to learn more about the government, its policies, and how they might affect you, for example.
The Creation of Policies
All governments can adopt their own systems for creating policies. Governments will generally have a specific process for writing policies, proposing them, and putting them into action.
The first step is usually finding a problem that the policy should address and coming up with potential outcomes for that problem. Then, policymakers can move onto the formulation process, which requires careful thought into what steps to take to reach the goal.
Finally, a government can either adopt or deny proposed policies. This is the point in the process that can vary significantly between governments, as each will implement a voting system or some other type of approval system for putting policies into law.
Once a government approves policies, it also must work to implement it. Some policies can take action immediately, whereas others will go through a roll-out process, depending on the type of policy and issues it affects.
How Do Local Policies Differ from Global Policies?
Local policies refer to those at the local, state, and federal levels. At the lowest tier, local policies can affect citizens most directly, as they dictate city and county laws. But, federal policies can still affect citizens significantly because they directly influence policies and laws at lower levels.
Global policies are similar in that they have a trickle-down effect on citizens worldwide. However, global policies come from world leaders who work toward creating ones that can improve communications between countries, trade law, conflict, and more. Global policies are, therefore, more complex and may require a longer formulation and implementation process than local policies.
Creation of Local Policies versus Global Policies
Interestingly, as different as global and local policies might be, they both follow strict procedures to move from a proposal to law. Some governments, like the United States government, allow local jurisdictions to implement their own systems, to an extent, for proposing and enacting policies. Still, local governments must create policies that serve both the best interests of the government and its citizens.
Similarly, global policymakers create policies to benefit both individual governments and their citizens and international governments and their citizens. International politicians, therefore, must work together to formulate policies and put them into practice.
It’s safe to say that the creation and implementation process for creating policies on a global level is more involved than at the local level. This method requires international leaders to collaborate and move ideas into action that can potentially affect the whole world.
Who Creates Policies?
Regardless of the level of government a policy goes through, there are a lot of people involved in the decision-making and implementation process, from government leaders to full committees.
It’s necessary for policies to go through a systematic chain of commands so that political leaders of various backgrounds have a fair say in the process and can be the voices of the citizens they represent. No one person can accept or deny a policy in most governments; instead, the ideation of the policy must move through various decision makers and meetings before a final decision comes into play.
The Role of Policy-Making Leaders
Policies usually form from the ideas of individuals, who later work together to piece together the ideas into policies. The governments of the world have various leaders that they place in charge of developing and implementing policies. You’ll notice that there are several names given to these people in power, but that they often carry out many of the same duties.
The High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, for example, is the title given to the representative of the European Union who coordinates with other world leaders to discuss and implement policies. However, those in the European Parliament can create policies for its own government and work with European foreign leaders to create global policies.
The Role of Policy-Making Committees
Most governments have some form of a committee that oversees the policy-making process from start to finish. Having a committee in place helps to ensure that every citizen’s best interests are represented fairly with a diverse mix of policymakers from different backgrounds and belief systems.
Committees can hold meetings to discuss current policies and proposed policies, whether they should be changed, and how to implement them in the most seamless way possible.
The United States, for example, has a Foreign Affairs Policy Board, which consists of important foreign affairs leaders, like the Secretary of State and Director of Policy Planning. This Board meets to discuss everything having to do with U.S. foreign policy and how it might affect U.S. citizens.
At the global level, world leaders also meet to see policies through from start to finish. The United Nations is an organization that includes important decision-makers from all over the world to improve relations between nations through policies.
Do Foreign Policies Affect Citizens?
Foreign affairs policy may not seem important to you as a citizen of one country. It can be challenging to think that what happens on the other side of the world could impact you today, tomorrow, or even several years from now. However, understanding the interests and struggles of other nations is an important step in learning more about your country and your role in the world.
Similarly, the current state of your country plays a crucial role in your government’s decisions when it comes to foreign policy. After all, your government leaders work to represent you and other citizens in their decisions, including how the government handles interactions with other countries.
If everyone in the world had a goal of understanding others better so that they could help them in some way, the world would be much more peaceful than it is today. It’s crucial to understand what’s going on in other countries first so that you can improve your knowledge and let it inform your decisions regarding your current government leaders and whether they’re the best people for the job.
How to Influence Your Government’s Domestic and Foreign Policies
How can you play a role in the creation of domestic and foreign policies? Get involved!
Most governments want their citizens to take an active role in shaping the laws they put in place. You can contact government officials to let them know what issues are most important to you, regardless of whether they’re domestic or foreign issues.
A simple Google search can usually help you find the contact information for the person you want to contact. It’s a good idea to start with your government representatives rather than reaching government leaders, as these are the people responsible for sharing the most important issues facing citizens with other government officials.
Email, call or write a letter to your representative. Be honest and thorough, explaining how the issue at hand affects you, the people you love, or other parts of the world and why you’re passionate about it. You can also suggest some ways to improve the issue, which could have a direct effect on future policies surrounding it.
Conclusion: Government and Foreign Policies and Their Effect on You
All government and foreign policies can potentially affect you as a citizen. However, you have an equally important role in shaping policies as do government and world leaders.
The issues that you and other people in the world face are the exact issues that domestic and global policies target. Learn to take an active role in your government by staying abreast of current events and contacting your government officials.