The United States is the world’s largest economy; it is also one of the world’s best forms of a presidential democracy. The United States declared its independence in 1776 and defeated Great Britain with help from France in the American Revolutionary War. As Seymour Martin Lipset points out, “The United States was the first major colony successfully to revolt against colonial rule. In this sense, it was the first ‘new nation.
‘” (Lipset, The First New Nation (1979) p. 2) On July 4, 1776, the Second Continental Congress, still meeting in Philadelphia, declared the independence of a nation called “the United States of America” in the Declaration of Independence, primarily authored by Thomas Jefferson. July 4 is celebrated as the nation’s birthday. The new nation was dedicated to principles of republicanism, which emphasized civic duty and a fear of corruption and hereditary aristocracy.
Politics of the United States takes place in a framework of a presidential republic, whereby the President of the United States is head of state, head of government, and of a two-party legislative and electoral system. The federal government shares sovereignty with the state governments, with the Supreme Court balancing the rights of each. The United States federal government is comprised of three main branches (the executive branch, legislature and the judiciary). The executive branch: Executive power is exercised by the executive branch, which is headed by the President and is independent of the legislature.
The Executive branch consists of the President of the United States and his delegates. The President is the head of state and head of government, as well as the military commander-in-chief and chief diplomat. The President, according to the Constitution, must “take care that the laws be faithfully executed. ” The President may sign or veto legislation passed by Congress. He may be impeached by a majority in the House and removed from office by a two-thirds majority in the Senate for “treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors.
” The removal of the President has happened nine times in U. S history. Bill Clinton was the last president to be impeached after the Monica Lewinsky scandal. He was impeached on December 19, 1998 by the House of Representatives on grounds of perjury to a grand jury (by a 228–206 vote) and obstruction of justice (by a 221–212 vote). Two other articles of impeachment failed—a second count of perjury in the Jones case (by a 205–229 vote), and one accusing President Clinton of abuse of power (by a 148–285 vote).
He was acquitted by the Senate The President may not dissolve Congress or call special elections, but does have the power to pardon criminals convicted of offenses against the federal government, enact executive orders, and (with the consent of the Senate) appoint Supreme Court justices and federal judges. The two main functions of the executive in many governments are: To collect taxes and customs duties and to use the money to pay the salaries of government employees and other government expenditure;
To provide the internal and external security of the state. This is mainly done by maintaining a police force and armed forces. Legislature: The congress is the legislative arm of the government. Legislative power is vested in the two chambers of Congress, the Senate and the House of Representatives. The congress is bicameral, comprised of the House of Representatives and the Senate. The House of Representatives consists of 435 members, each of whom represents a congressional district and serves for a two-year term.
House seats are apportioned among the states by population; in contrast, each state has two Senators, regardless of population. There are a total of 100 senators (as there are currently 50 states), who serve six-year terms (one third of the Senate stands for election every two years). Each congressional chamber (House or Senate) has particular exclusive powers—the Senate must give “advice and consent” to many important Presidential appointments, and the House must introduce any bills for the purpose of raising revenue.
However, the consent of both chambers is required to make any law. The powers of Congress are limited to those enumerated in the Constitution; all other powers are reserved to the states and the people. The Congress has the responsibility to monitor and influence aspects of the executive branch. Congressional oversight prevents waste and fraud, protects civil liberties and individual rights, ensures executive compliance with the law, gathers information for making laws and educating the public, and evaluates executive performance.
It applies to cabinet departments, executive agencies, regulatory commissions, and the presidency. Congress’s oversight function takes many forms including: Committee inquiries and hearings Formal consultations with and reports from the President Senate advice and consent for presidential nominations and for treaties House impeachment proceedings and subsequent Senate trials House and Senate proceedings under the 25th Amendment in the event that the President becomes disabled or the office of the Vice President fall vacant
Informal meetings between legislators and executive officials Congressional membership on governmental commissions Studies by congressional committees and support agencies such as the Congressional Budget Office, and the Government Accountability Office, both of which are arms of Congress Powers of Congress: The Constitution grants numerous powers to Congress. These include the powers: to levy and collect taxes in order to pay debts, provide for common defense and general welfare of the U. S. ; to borrow money on the credit of the U. S.
; to regulate commerce with other nations and between the states; to establish a uniform rule of naturalization; to coin money and regulate its value; provide for punishment of counterfeiting; establish post offices and roads, promote progress of science, create courts inferior to the Supreme Court, define and punish piracies and felonies, declare war, raise and support armies, provide and maintain a navy, make rules for the regulation of land and naval forces, provide for the militia, arm and discipline the militia, exercise exclusive legislation in Washington D.
C, and make laws necessary to execute the powers of Congress. Judiciary: Judicial power is exercised by the judicial branch (or judiciary), comprised of the Supreme Court and lower federal courts. The function of the judiciary is to interpret the United States Constitution as well as the federal laws and regulations. This includes resolving disputes between the executive and legislative branches. The highest court is the Supreme Court of the United States.
The court deals with matters pertaining to the Federal Government, disputes between states, and interpretation of the United States Constitution, and can declare legislation or executive action made at any level of the government as unconstitutional, nullifying the law and creating precedent for future law and decisions. Below the Supreme Court are the courts of appeals, and below them in turn are the district courts, which are the general trial courts for federal law.
Separate from, but not entirely independent of, this federal court system are the individual court systems of each state, each dealing with its own laws and having its own judicial rules and procedures. The supreme court of each state is the final authority on the interpretation of that state’s laws and constitution. A case may be appealed from a state court to the U. S. Supreme Court only if there is a federal question (an issue arising under the U. S. Constitution, or laws/treaties of the United States). The relationship between federal and state laws is quite complex; together, they form the law of the United States.
The federal judiciary consists of the Supreme Court of the United States, whose justices are appointed for life by the President and confirmed by the Senate, and various “lower” or “inferior courts,” among which are the United States Courts of Appeals and the United States District Courts. There are other courts, such as the bankruptcy courts and the tax court, which are specialized courts handling only certain kinds of cases. The judicial power extends to cases arising under the Constitution, an Act of Congress, or a treaty of the United States; cases affecting ambassadors, ministers, and consuls of foreign countries in the United States.
The Constitution safeguards judicial independence by providing that federal judges shall hold office “during good behavior”. Usually they serve until they die, retire, or resign. A judge who commits an offense while in office may be impeached in the same way as the President or other officials of the federal government. The power of the federal courts extends both to civil actions for damages and other redress, and to criminal cases arising under federal law. A constitutional provision prohibits Congress from reducing the pay of any judge—Congress could enact a new lower salary applying to future judges, but not to those already serving.
Conclusion: In the united states there exist a system of separation of powers (this is a political doctrine under which the legislative, executive and judicial branches of government are kept distinct, to prevent abuse of power). Through a system of separation of powers or “checks and balances,” each of these branches has some authority to act on its own, some authority to regulate the other two branches, and has some of its own authority, in turn, regulated by the other branches. In addition, the powers of the federal government as a whole are limited by the Constitution.
This system of checks and balances is what has enabled the three branches to co-exist together. References: Seymour Martin Lipset (2003), First New Nation (Ppr): The United States in Historical and Comparative Perspective, Transaction Publishers, U. S. The official United States website, retrieved on 28th April 2007, available at: www. usa. gov/ Web article, United States history, retrieved on 28th April 2007, available at: www. wikipedia. org/wiki/U. S. _government Web article, Politics of the United States, retrieved on 28th April 2007, available at: www. wikipedia. org/wiki/Politics_of_the_United_States