They call it political science. They study things such as the origins of the state, history, political ideologies, law, war, taxes, regulation, international relations, and free trade. They claim to study the "important questions" like "knowing who gets what from a political system." Indeed.
But here's the problem: like everything else in politics, calling it science is a lie. Why? Because science "is a systematic enterprise that builds and organizes knowledge in the form of testable explanations and predictions about the world." Additionally, science requires using the scientific method which has specific elements and a specific process. Political science generally doesn't use those procedures. Also, political science doesn't make discoveries using the scientific method. Pretty much the best political science can do is use polls to make predictions and measure political phenomena.
Political science isn't about discovering facts and proving theories. It's effectively conjecture and opinion. Yes, political science practitioners can study history and then try to figure out, in very general terms, which ideas and actions may or tend to lead to certain results. But that's a far-cry from science. Even political science educators admit that "research in political science seldom yields immediately conclusive results."
Why do you think they call it political science? Do you think they are trying to make politics seem less haphazard? What discoveries have political scientists really made, especially ones that have improved our overall quality of life (like real science does)? Do you think the inequalities that the government creates with its laws and regulations have something to do with the fact that there isn't any science involved in politics? Is political science a bogus degree? Would politicians be better at governing if they didn't study politics? What do you think is the most important question in politics?
The most unenviable task confronting the student of political science lies in attempting to define and explain the discipline of political science to those who are unfamiliar with it. For, people who unfamiliar with the discipline are often mislead by the grandiose-sounding title of "political science," and thus often assume that the discipline consists of the fascinating search for truth and meaning in the political world. It is altogether disheartening and embarrassing to have to explain that the "scientific" portion of the discipline does not, in the main, actually ever even attempt to tackle difficult political questions — nor does it produce answers to the timeless questions of politics. It is, for example, less than impressive to explain to the uninitiated listener that the discipline has been bickering about parliamentary versus presidential democratic systems for over one hundred years, (even the political scientist Woodrow Wilson participated in this asinine debate), with absolutely no consensus emerging. As another example, the political science student is not likely to impress his mother or father if he explains to them that a good chunk of the scholarship in the discipline he's chosen to study, (often with their money), is devoted to the mind-numbing and worthless task of defining the word "institution."
The shocking uselessness and banality of most political science scholarship today ought to be readily apparent even to the student of political science himself. Indeed, the uselessness of political science is almost glaringly obvious to anyone who has any sense of the political history of the last hundred years. The political history of the last hundred years is rife with violence, world war, the growth of state power and discretion, genocide, and socialism. These processes of de-civilization were unfolding precisely during the time that political science was rapidly growing and proclaiming itself to be a "scientific" discipline that can help our understanding of these phenomena. And yet, political science has yet to offer much that is useful for man in his quest to reverse these processes of de-civilization. Instead, the empirical political science literature is absolutely chock-filled with pointless and boring analyses of "civic culture," "disenfranchisement," "coalition-building," et cetera ad nauseam. The only reason why these studies continue to pour forth — by now a veritable flood of insipid and useless theories and empirics — is that the funding for these studies typically comes from the state. Hence, the funding has no relationship whatsoever to the preferences of the poor taxpayers who are forced to pay for them. I doubt very highly, for example, that your average tax-paying waitress would be willing to voluntarily hand over even a penny of her money for a political science research project to find out whether the voting rules of the Italian parliament lead to more or less coalition building. (I, for one, don't give a damn what the outcome of the study would be — and I've spent eight years studying political science!)
This refusal to tackle the consequential and difficult questions of politics is typically not made, however, by the students of political philosophy. These students seek answers to timeless questions, like "is there a moral duty for rich states to help poor states with direct aid?" However, while the students of political philosophy often do seek answers to timeless questions of politics, they, like their empirical brethren, almost universally neglect the paramount question of politics. It is by their neglect of this vital question that both empirical political "scientists" and political philosophers make their most fateful and inexcusable mistake — a mistake that has heretofore led political science to become a totally farcical and insidious discipline. The paramount question of politics is:
Is taxation morally justifiable?