The Devil's Dictionary has: "POLITICS, n. A strife of interests masquerading as a contest of principles. The conduct of public affairs for private advantage."
"Politics is the process by which groups make decisions. It is the authoritative allocation of values. Although the term is generally applied to behavior within governments, politics is observed in all human group interactions, including corporate, academic, and religious institutions." en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Politics
"Aristotle's Politics ... is a work of political philosophy. It begins where the Nicomachean Ethics ends, and the two are frequently considered to be parts of a larger treatise dealing with the philosophy of human affairs. ..." en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Politics (Aristotle)
The "practice of gaining favor" need not be as cynical as Ambrose Bierce views it. Anything one does that results in other people asceeding to some desire or purpose one has has a core structure that presupposes that the accomplishment or satisfaction of some desire or purpose is contingent upon the "good will" of others - that is - that such desire or need depends in some way on some social interactions - particulary actions other than the exercise of raw dominate power or corecion. Implicit in "favor" is inherent power in others - those who would be in a position to deny or "grant favor". Thus a transcaction of some kind that is willingly participated in is involved. As such the direct application of coercison as well as the indirect use of manipulative methods that lead a person to act unconsciously contrary to how they might act consciously would not normally be subsumed under "gaining favor".
But "politics" goes beyond mere "gaining favor". Politics includes seeking and managing power by any rational, irrational, coercive, deceptive, "dirty", "clean", logical, illogical, etc., means, which includes going beyond "gaining favor" to include "coercing" "favor", "manipulating" "favor", "buying" "favor", etc., etc.'
I can see that one can abstract "the practice of gaining favor" to "politics", but so can one start from several other points, some of which are contrary to the basic notions of "gaining favor".
Woudn't it be nice if ... amoung other things ... every body played positive rational "politics" simply trading favor so each could gain the favors they desired without manipulaton or coercion? You know, everyone being wholly honest, completely open, putting their cards on the table, and swapping quid-pro-quo until the maixmum utility for all is achieved?