This is one way to put it but different people might see it differently, depending on the side of the barricade where each of them finds itself at one moment.
The ‘meek’ demand from the government protection against the abuses of the perceived powerful while the ‘people of substance’ expect from the government to protect their life and property from predation. The funniest thing is that each part see the other one as being the more powerful, the ‘meek’ consider the government as nothing but another tool used by the rich to extract more wealth from the people while some of the rich consider that the government cater too much for the poor plainly because the poor have more electoral power by simply being more numerous.
This is why I prefer the notion of ‘shared interests’ instead of ‘common good’ and I think we should reconsider the whole concept of public administration.
‘Government’ comes from ‘governing a ship’ = ‘determining its course’.
The ‘point’ is that a ship is different from a society/country.
Both have a specific role, carrying goods/providing a living medium for its people, and are different in the sense that each voyage has a port of origin and a destination so ‘governing’ simply means finding the shortest/safest/cheapest route between those two while a country has only ‘history’, its future being perpetually under construction.
In these circumstances governing a country presumes somehow knowing where that country needs to go even before choosing a course to that future.
The problem is confounded by the democratic process.
In the old times of the “l’etat c’est moi” (“imperium” in Latin) a country was indeed governed like a ship, the ruler/’emperor’ acted as a captain/owner who charted the course depending solely on his interests, wasting no breath about what the crew felt or wished. As a consequence the crew mutinied from time to time or more precisely each time the living conditions became unbearable.
Tired of those already periodic mutinies, the whole crew, the ‘officers’ included, decided to ‘change tack’ and that from that point on the captain would be elected democratically. Unfortunately this development solved only one side of the problem. The captain can no longer act despotically and disregard completely the wishes of the crew but no one feels compelled to seriously think about the destination anymore. The would be successive captains think their term would have passed by then while the crew is confident that the current captain is taking care of the problem.
All goes well as long as the ship stays in deep waters, the weather is fine – with an occasional shower so that enough drinking water can be saved – and the ‘fishing’ yields enough food for everybody to be reasonably well fed – differences are not felt until their sizes interfere with the smooth sailing of the ship – but when the ship runs aground, as it so often happens, all hell breaks loose, everybody goes nuts, blames the captain and then tries to save his own hide.
It takes a while until enough of them realize that ‘common good’ is an utopia and all they have to agree about is the shared interest of keeping the boat afloat.
And that all of them need to work together as a crew cos’ it’s a lot easier/safer together aboard a big ship than each of them manning a puny raft.