We talk a lot about politics. We demand more accountability and transparency. We abuse the ‘eunuch’ Dail. We parade policy failures and highlight their costs. We castigate our fellow citizens for their lack of virtue and demand a ‘vision’ from god knows who. We deplore the public’s declining trust in politicians to which all this talk must contribute. We do not, however, discuss what politics is about, reflecting on what it is for, and against what standards it should be judged. Why should we? After all such fundamental questioning can be tiresome, interrupting otherwise fruitful conversations. For example, when discussing the merits of this or that automobile we do not find it either necessary, or useful, to remind ourselves what motor cars are for – the movement of persons from A to B with safety, due dispatch and, at least a modicum of elegance. We all know what motor cars are for and the conversation proceeds smoothly on the basis of this shared presumption. We all know what politics are for, don’t we?