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How does the American political system work?

The United States of America is a federated nation of Sovereign states in a Republic,


managed by the U.S. Federal Government. The U.S. Federal Government has three
branches:

Congress (they write U.S. Federal Law for the USA)


Executive Branch (the President of the United States is head of this)
Judicial Branch (the U.S. Supreme Court is the highest court)

All of this is spelled out in the U.S. Constitution which describes the basic principles of how
these three entities are to operate, and also spells out Civil Rights for individuals in The Bill
of Rights which is the first ten amendments to the Constitution, adopted at the same time as
the rest of the Constitution over 200 years ago. It's an easy read: just a few pages. People
who take the time to read it tend to be shocked at how short and apparently simple it is.

One important point about the Constitution: it contains a procedure for amendment - we
can change our federal government structure or operation as much or as little as we want
at any time; we just have to agree sufficiently to do so.

The Congress is bicameral (two parts): the U.S. Senate, and the House of Representatives.
Everyone in both houses of Congress is directly elected by the citizens of the USA, though at
one time, U.S. Senators were appointed by the legislatures of the States of the USA that they
represented. The Congress writes the laws of the USA, which is to say, the rules we all live
under.

The Executive Branch is the operational part of the Federal government: the bureaucracy,
and the U.S. Armed Forces. If the Federal Government is doing something actively, it's this
branch of it that is doing the doing. The basic job of everyone who works for this part of the
government is to implement the law, as written by the Congress. The President has a say in
the legislative process - he must sign all laws (though if he refuses, the Congress can, with
sufficient agreement, override his objection).

The Judiciary adjudicates disputes arising out of conflict between the law as written by
Congress, and the actions in practice of the executive branch. It also adjudicates disputes
between individuals that have implications in federal law (that is, the dispute is not confined
to a single state).

The next level down is the 50 sovereign states, each of which has its own independent
government with an elected legislature, though all are subject to the Constitution and U.S.
Federal Law. Each of them has a government that mostly mirrors the same structure as I
just described at the federal level, though their chief executives are called "Governors" and
there are variations of legislatures (Nebraska's legislature is unicameral) and, in some cases,
legal systems (Louisiana, for example, does not use English Common Law - their system is
based in the French Napoleonic Code). State governments only have jurisdiction within
their borders. Disputes between the states are handled by the federal government.

The next level down is subdivisions of the states, most often called "counties" but other
names are used, depending on the state. There are many, many counties in the USA, with
variations in their governance prescribed by the laws of the state they're within.

At the last level, one sees towns and cities. Some areas which you might call a "town" (or
village) don't have their own independent government; these are most often administered
by the county that they're within, and they're referred to as being "unincorporated."

Most city and county governments are unicameral arrangements with a small board of
elected representatives who write law for that geographical area, and oversee an executive
("county manager", "mayor", etc) that operates government services: police, fire protection,
garbage collection, etc. The particular services which each local government offers varies
widely; many services which other countries would see as being strictly operated by
government employees are contracted out to private companies.

The system is designed with subsidiarity in mind, though that word (and its concept) is not
broadly spoken in political circles these days.

The overall political system of the USA appears very fractious and contentious, but it mostly
works by debate & negotiation between interested parties, and with compromise. We tend
not to do anything unless enough of us agree, and getting sufficient agreement tends to be a
loud affair. After operating this system for a couple of centuries, we now seem to be able to
make it work without shooting at each other.

Updated 8 Feb View Upvotes Answer requested by Mark Savchuk

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Dale Leopold, B.A. Government & Politics, U. of Maryland '79. Political Voice Actor

10.4k Views

There are many fine answers here that lay out the different branches of government. One
important aspect that I don't think has been explained is that the Founding Fathers
included in the Constitution a system of "checks and balances," so that, in theory, no
one branch of government could run roughshod over the others. In the words of James
Madison "Ambition must be made to counteract ambition."

Now, in practice, each branch has at various times asserted its authority over the others.
But most would agree that the Executive Branch has been far and away the most successful
at expanding its powers beyond what was originally envisioned by the founders (mind you,
I'm not saying whether this is a good or bad thing).

I think when you look at the historical circumstances of the drafting of the Constitution, it is
easy to understand why these checks and balances were adopted. Following the successful
rebellion against the British crown, the last thing most (though not all) Americans wanted
was a concentration of too much power in a single, strong executive. They'd already rid
themselves of a king--why replace him with another? Another factor (which persisted well
into the 19th Century) was that most Americans identified themselves with their State first
rather than the country as a whole; if you asked them where they were from, "I'm an
American" would have been a much less likely answer than, say, "I'm a Virginian."

After the perceived failure of the first governing document of the United States, the Articles
of Confederation, which created a weak Federal government with limited powers and no
Chief Executive, it was replaced with the Constitution in 1789.

Here's a handy chart that lays out some of the ways in which each branch can exercise some
control over the others:
Again, in practice, the Executive Branch has pushed the most against Constitutional limits
in various ways, often successfully. Although only Congress is supposed to have the power to
declare war on another nation, in practice many presidents have sent American troops into
battle without such a declaration. In the post-Vietnam War era, Congress attempted to limit
such Presidential actions with the War Powers Resolution, with mixed results.

President Franklin D. Roosevelt, frustrated by the Supreme Court having declared some of
his New Deal programs unconstitutional (one of their biggest "checks"), attempted to "pack"
the Court by expanding its size and filling the new slots with his own nominees (the current
members were there for life, yet another Judicial "check") via the Judicial Procedures
Reform Bill of 1937, but this bill was defeated in Congress.

Despite these mostly successful efforts to expand Executive power, it is still unlikely that a
president with truly dictatorial powers will be able to run wild in the United States. Even
when the majority of both houses of Congress are members of the President's party, history
shows that they rarely submit meekly to the President's wishes (whether due to influence
from their political donors, lobbyists, constituents, etc., or just because no Congress
willingly surrenders power). And even if they did, the Supreme Court could rule the
President's actions unconstitutional (again, even if a majority of them were appointed by the
President or predecessors of the same party).

Beyond Constitutional checks and balances, there's also the fact that a great many civil
servants that make up the Executive Branch agencies and departments are not political
appointees, and often serve for decades regardless of which party is in the White House.
They act (or fail to act) at their own pace, and have their own agendas. President Truman
noted this after the election of Dwight D. Eisenhower, who only a decade earlier had been
Supreme Commander of Allied Forces in the Second World War, to the Presidency in 1952.
Hell sit here, and hell say, Do this! Do that! And nothing will happen. Poor Ikeit wont
be a bit like the Army. Hell find it very frustrating.

(By the way, I don't think anyone has answered the question about Student Government.
This is not an official branch of government at any federal or state level. It is merely an
advisory council set up by many high schools and colleges with almost no real power. Here's
an article about that: Student governments in the United States).

Written 31 Aug 2015 View Upvotes

Geoffrey Widdison, Engineer, reader, thinker, dreamer. Scientist, scholar, Latter-Day Saint.

26k Views Geoffrey has 630+ answers in Politics of the United States of America.

You seem to be referring to the national system, which makes sense. It's complex, but, in
basics:

There are three branches of government: The Executive Branch consists of the President
and everyone who works for him. The Legislative Branch consists of Congress. The Judicial
Branch consists of the Supreme Court.

Congress consists of two branches: The House of Representatives and the Senate. The
House has Representatives from each state based on the State population (California gets 53
Representatives, Wyoming gets 1). Each state gets 2 Senators, though, regardless of
population. (This odd arrangement is a result of compromises early in our history).

The key thing to realize here is that only Congress has the power to make laws. No laws can
be initiated anywhere else (and that includes an annual budget for the running of the
country). Any Representative can introduce a bill, but there are complicated procedural
rules for how it gets introduced for a vote. In order for a bill to become a law, it has to be
passed by a majority of the House AND a majority of the Senate AND be signed by the
President. Since the same bill has to be passed by the House and the Senate, this entails a lot
of compromise and negotiation between the two bodies of Congress.
You'll notice in the above paragraph that the President has to sign the bills into law. That's
really the primary power the President has over the laws of the country. He can refuse to
sign a law, which is called a 'veto', which means the law doesn't pass, It's a fascinating thing,
the President is seen as the leader of the nation, but his only official power in passing laws is
the power to say "no" when all is said and done. In reality, though, the President is much
more involved. He tends to work closely with Congress to figure out bills that he'd be willing
to sign and get them passed, but he has no official power until the bill has been introduced,
negotiated and passed by Congress.

Now, the structure of the House and Senate are complex. With 435 Representatives, each
with their own politics, ideas and agendas, it can become hard to get things done. There are
two primary political parties in the US: the Democrats and the Republicans. Each party
selects their own leadership to set agendas and build consensus. So, in both the House and
the Senate, each party will elect a Leader and a Whip. The job of the Whip is to deal with all
the members of the party, work out what they're going to try to accomplish in a given year,
and deal with all the people, personalities and agendas to get things done (as well as getting
their members re-elected).

You talk about what happens when the President and House leadership are from different
parties. This is, in fact, a very common situation. Currently, the House has a Republican
majority and the Senate has a Democratic majority, while the President is a Democrat. In
theory, this creates a situation that requires compromise. The only way any law can get
passed is if the chambers of Congress can agree on laws which the President is willing to
sign. This should drive them to seek a middle ground, and pass laws they can all live with.

In reality, it often creates a situation where political battles bring things to a halt. The
Republican Congress has spent the last couple of years passing a variety of laws that they
knew very well that the Senate wouldn't pass and the President wouldn't sign. Such is a
pointless waste of time, but it looks good to their constituents. At the same time, the
President has an agenda that he wants to advance, but Republicans in congress generally
won't even negotiate with him, fearing that if he accomplishes something good, it will make
him and his party look good. As a result, political infighting has largely ground the work of
government to a halt. It's frankly appalling, but that's where we are now.

Incidentally, you asked about governors. That spawns a whole additional level of discussion.
What you have to understand about America is that we have national laws, but each of the
50 states has their own government, and a significant degree of self-rule. Federal laws are
intended only to deal with large, national issues. It's left up to the states to pass and enforce
their own laws beyond that. The government of each state is designed like a miniature
version of the national government. Each state has it's own House and Senate, but instead of
the President, each state has a Governor. The Governor has no power on the national level,
but a significant degree of power within the state. This becomes important because there
are a lot of important issues where state laws have the real control: issues like education,
marriage laws, capital punishment, and, increasingly, drug laws. These are largely out of the
hands of the US government, and are controlled by each of the states individually.

Written 1 Mar 2014 View Upvotes Answer requested by Nadeem Hussain

Sheri Fresonke Harper, Sheri studied American literature, government, and political
science

4.5k Views

The United States operates as defined by the US Constitution and its Amendments. It has a
Federal Government and each State in the United States has their own State Government.
The Federal government is made up of three main arms, The US Supreme Court which is
responsible for ruling on the legality of Federal laws and actions. The US Senate and House
of Representatives are responsible for passing needed laws and for establishing a budget for
government. The President is the leader and he appoints staff to help him guide the country
including a bureaucracy to manage many Federal programs and acts as the head of the
Army.

Each state has similar entities, although the leader of the state is usually called the
Governor. Legal decisions by the states can be appealed at the Federal level for compliance
with the US Constitution and Amendments and the body of law.

Cities, and other legal bodies (like the Port of Seattle) have their own administration and
power to tax. Most cities are led by Mayors.

Most officials are elected.

Government Departments and Agencies can answer any current question.

Written 9 Dec 2012 View Upvotes

Ken Streiff, Ba History, BA Political Science, Gustavus Adolphus '81


4.1k Views Upvoted by Adam Nyhan, American

I would like to add to some of what Mr. O'Connor wrote.. Each and every one of the elected
representatives are subject to pressure by their constituents, special interest groups, their
own and opposition parties, other members of Congress, and the stresses of fundraising for
campaigning. This is of course not all-inclusive. Most of this pressure is necessarily
deflected to their staffs. They do most of the legwork in helping constituents with problems
ranging from how to get their great-great-grandmother's documents from Ellis Island to
getting their loved one safely out of a foreign and belligerent country. Special interest
groups range from the NRA (guns) to the Audobon Society to labor unions to the various
Chambers of Commerce. There are literally thousands of special interest groups claiming to
represent American and foreign interests. Corporations lobby government.

In a sense, the federal government works much like a very large computer in that it obeys
GIGO...garbage in, garbage out.

A bill is a proposal for a law to be made. Bills are typically not written by Senators, or
Congressmen, or their aides, but are proposed by a special interest group. Some of these are
closely aligned with the political aspirations of a party and its dominant funders, and this
trend was affirmed by the Supreme Court in a recent controversial decision. Some are more
clearly single-issue. Lobbyists are professionals and amateurs who are attempting to get
these bills heard and sponsored by the membership, and they may try somewhat
questionable tactics to get their bit of verbiage passed into law. Hence, there are rules, and
an ethics committee, to put somewhat of a respectable face on what can and cannot be done
(no outright bribery, for example). Once a bill has a sponsor, it can be scheduled for
committee hearings before the appropriate ones, say, judiciary and agriculture. If, after
hearings, it is a go, it is reported out, gets debated on, and possibly passed. But this is only
part of the process.

The bill has a similar gauntlet to run in the other chamber, from sponsor to vote.
Then, if there are any wording differences, or number differences, they are hammered out
(or not). If a bill finally has passed both house and the wording and numbers are agreed
upon, it is sent to the President for signature, non-signature (pocket veto), or Veto.
Meaning the President disapproves. In which case the bill can go back to the House and
Senate and they can vote to override the veto with 2/3 vote.

Assuming the bill got passed, it has to be Constitutional. This can get challenged if a person
with standing is affected by the bill in a way that seemingly violates one of the many
provisions of the US Constitution. They then sue in one of the federal courts, and, if the
case is seen by a US Supreme Court Justice to have meritorious issues, it may reach that
august body and a decision on whether or not it is constitutional will be arrived at. Supreme
Court justices are appointed for life, supposedly so they become apolitical in their
viewpoints and act as an additional check on a certain political belief system gaining total
control of the government. In practice, Justices are appointed by Presidents who look at
previous rulings and attempt to predict future behavior from that. It doesn't always follow.

Most of what the Federal government does is administrative, through the various
departments (State - passports, negotiating,etc.; Agriculture - farm program, research. food
stamps, education). It is also responsible for our national past, literature, parks,
monuments. And it pays the bills, each month millions of payments are made to the retired,
disabled, veterans, military personnel, park rangers, and so forth. A certain part of the
federal government deals with enforcement, including the FBI, ATF, Secret Service, and so
on.

The military answers directly to the President, through the Joint Chiefs of Staff. This does
not require the President to take their advice or issue all orders through them, however.
The Defense department, or DOD, is a huge operation with global reach.

Some of this is very scant in detail, the topic is very complex.

Written 3 Jun 2014 View Upvotes

Meet Bhatt, ordinarily encountered person

2.1k Views

You're American so you have a right to know it.

The United States is - by size of electorate - the second largest democracy on the globe
(India is the largest and Indonesia comes third) and the most powerful nation on earth,
politically, economically and militarily, but its political system is in many important respects
unlike any other in the world. This essay then was written originally to inform non-
Americans as to how the American political system works.

In the U.S., the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) tests what American
students are learning. It has found that the two worst subjects for American students are
Civics and American history. One NAEP survey found that only 7% of eighth graders
(children aged 13-14) could describe the three branches of government.

THE CONSTITUTION
The American political system is clearly defined by basic documents. The Declaration of
Independence of 1776 and the Constitution of 1789 form the foundations of the United
States federal government. The Declaration of Independence establishes the United States
as an independent political entity, while the Constitution creates the basic structure of the
federal government. Both documents are on display in the National Archives and Records
Administration Building in Washington, D.C. which I have visited several times.

The United States Constitution is the shortest written constitution in the world with just
seven articles and 27 amendments. As well as its brevity, the US Constitution is notable for
being a remarkably stable document. If one accepts that these first 10 amendments were in
effect part of the original constitutional settlement, there have only been 17 amendments in
over 200 years.

THE PRESIDENCY

What is the Presidency?


The President is the head of the executive branch of the federal government of the United
States. He - so far, the position has always been held by a man - is both the head of state and
the head of government, as well as the military commander-in-chief and chief diplomat. He
presides over the executive branch of the government, a vast organisation numbering about
four million people, including one million active-duty military personnel.

Who is eligible to become a President?


To be President, one has to:

be a natural-born citizen of the United States


be at least 35 years old
have lived in the US for at least 14 years

How is a President chosen?


The President is elected for a fixed term of four years and may serve a maximum of two
terms.

What are the powers of the President?

Within the executive branch, the President has broad constitutional powers to
manage national affairs and the workings of the federal government and he may
issue executive orders to affect internal policies. The use of executive orders has
varied enormously between presidents and is often a controversial matter since,
in effect, it is bypassing the Congress to achieve what would otherwise require
legislation. Very few such orders were issued until the time of Abraham Lincoln
(the Emanicpation Declaration was such an order); activist President Theodore
Roosevelt issued no less than 1,006;

...whatever I know is just this policies and all...

Written Jun 17, 2015 View Upvotes

Charles O'Connor, Republican Committeeman in NY for 15 years, Active Democrat until


30 years old

2.2k Views

This deserves a very large book. And in fact it is answered in many books, but they disagree.

The United States political system is, even in this administration, a federal system. That
means there are fifty political systems each somewhat different and some quite different
from the others.

You do not need to understand each state. And if I read your explanation under your
question correctly you are concerned with the National government. Besides I won't live
long enough to explain the New York legislature.

The theory is a interlocking, coequal trio of separate branches make up the United States
National Government. The executive branch is a constitutionally weak office but has over
time acquired a great deal of power if the President can use that power. The legislative is
divided into two sections, the Senate and the House of Representatives, elected at different
schedules and having different responsibilities and powers. The Judicial is not elected at all
but appointed by the President and requiring the consent of the Senate.

Gee, just reading that I'm not angry about the deadlock in Washington, I'm amazed that
anything ever got done. That seems funny but remember the guys ( The Founders... we don't
have time) that designed this system profoundly distrusted government.

The political parties and remember there is a Democratic Party and a Republican party in all
fifty states and many divisions in each one. The National Headquarters of either party is
little more than an advisory board three and a half years out of four.

The Senate is half the legislative branch. It has two members from each state and there are
almost never elected together. Each member almost always serves six years. One third of the
Senate is up for election every two years
You can see the Senates idea of itself at http://www.senate.gov/

The House of Representatives has four hundred and thirty five members elected every two
years. When you consider a simple political campaign with no primary takes at least six
months they do not have a great deal of time to do their job. You can see the House of
Representatives' idea of itself at http://www.house.gov/

I think when you say the white house, you mean the Executive Branch of the government.
The White house is a part of that branch but is a part the Executive Branch but not
necessarily with the same aim as the rest of the Executive Branch and sometimes not even
exactly the Presidents. (If this confuse you then you are following along correctly. Aaron
Sorkin made a lot of money by writing a great soap West Wing about it.)

The Executive Branch consists of the President, the Vice President and the Cabinet. The
Cabinet consists of the fifteen executives who run the major agencies. You can see the House
of Executive Branchs' idea of itself at http://www.whitehouse.gov/our-go....

The above mentioned represent all interest groups to a greater or lesser extent and how they
reach an agreement is beyond my powers to comprehend much less explain.

However there are some books I can recommend:


The Years of Lyndon Johnson by Robert Caro
Four volumes and anxiously awaiting the fifth (say a prayer he stays in good health)

The Power Broker by Robert Caro

Miracle At Philadelphia: The Story of the Constitutional Convention


nCatherine Drinker Bowen

Plunkitt of Tammany Hall

by William Riordan

The Lion and the Fox by James MacGregor Burns


Roosevelt: The Soldier of Freedom by James MacGregor Burns

Huey Long by T. Harry Williams


There are thousands more and probably some better. But that will give you enough to be
going on with.

Written Jun 1, 2014 View Upvotes Answer requested by Alwy Mocha

Irene Colthurst, Read Stephanopoulus' book at 13

1.4k Views Upvoted by Claire J. Vannette, American

So, there is the system structure and then there is the political culture. First thing to note is
that the U.S. is a federal constitutional republic, and in a specific political way. The original
states confederated with each other and jointly created the federal government, which both
in the Enlightenment political theory and just very practically has the implication, codified
in the formal document, that the states reserve to themselves all powers that they do not
expressly delegate to the federal government. In other words, the opposite of devolution in
a centralized Union like the UK. Each of the fifty states has its own constitution and three
branch government, headed by a governor. But the federal constitution is the supreme
law. State judiciaries go up to state Supreme Courts and then the federal system goes
higher.

Structurally it's a separated powers congressional-presidential system, with the federal


judiciary as the third angle of the triangle, if you will. The U.S. Congress is bicameral, or
two chambered. All legislation goes through both houses, and both houses have to pass
identical versions of a piece of legislation (a bill) before it can be sent to the president for
signature (or veto). Constitutionally all revenue bills must originate in the House of
Representatives.

Unlike Westminster parliamentary systems, there is no simple governing party forming a


government and the minority party sitting in opposition. Either of the parties could (and
has) controlled either or both of the houses of Congress while holding the presidency or
not. Yes, less legislation gets passed when there is what Americans call divided
government, which happens fairly regularly as each part of the system, House, Senate,
presidency, are elected separately (voters vote in distinct races for each seat).

Partisanship (which is, all should know, at historic high rates right now) does determine the
structure of each chamber: there are majority leaders and minority leaders, and committee
assignments reflect the partisan balance. But party loyalty is much, much weaker than in
the Westminster system. In American politics bipartisanship, for philosophical and
historical reasons, is prized, as is the autonomy of dedicated groups of cross-partisans or
partisans more especially than the leadership to form specific caucuses on certain bills or
areas of policy or interest. And members are very connected to constituent wishes. So a
party leader in either chamber does as much persuading as corralling, as it were. Major,
controversial vote totals are built senator by senator, and even congressperson by
congressperson. Institutional loyalty is as strong as loyalty to party. And the president can
be a supra partisan whip, or, as with the TPA vote, depending on the issue and his/her own
stance, the other partisan caucus can be courted, or a bipartisan coalition can be allowed to
emerge to carry the legislation. (The Trade Promotion Authority bill vote demonstrates so
much of these institutional features.)

I explain all that because it's really crucial, for any relatively casual observer of the post
1900 American political system to recall that it is not "all about the president and then
there is Congress".

There are "only" two parties directly because the US has a first-past-the-post electoral
system, but also the first decade of fully independent American national political life took
place in the shadow of the French Revolution while trying to establish an extensive
confederated republic: the formation of two factions around more or less binary positions
on these major, epochal issues was a fairly obvious process, and yet there have been a few
select instances where the US has had a political climate characterized by other than the two
major coalitions (which if healthy allow for a great deal of intraparty bargaining). The first
was the period 1816-1824, when effectively the US had only one party after its rival
collapsed as a national political force, and there was an effort to be a government of
amalgamation, the second was when the Republican Party first formed and rose to
prominence in the 1850s, and then there were essentially multiple factions within the
United States (the Union) as the American Civil War was fought.

Since then there have always been intraparty tensions and wings within the parties, because
they are pre-formed coalitions of factions, and as detailed above, rather unstable by nature.

Written Sep 27, 2015 View Upvotes Answer requested by Ashutosh Pinjan

Tom Byron, I vote. I work at the polls. I watch CSpan.

2.5k Views Tom has 16 endorsements in Politics of the United States of America.
We have a Congress, not a Parliament.

Our Congress consists of a House and a Senate. (Lower [H], and Upper [S] chamber, as it
were.) Both groups are directly elected by the people. The House [H] represents the specific
area in a state where a citizen lives, members elected for 2 years. The Senate [S] represents
the state (2 each) where the citizen lives., Members elected for 6 years. There are many
more subdivisions (Representatives) in the House (435 districts) and only 100 Senators (50
states x 2).

The House brings legislation up for debate and sends the bill to the Senate. If the House and
Senate agree the President signs it into a Law if he agrees. He vetoes it if he does not. The
House basically is the branch that authorizes spending. The Senate basically creates
legislation that is applicable every where. Like voting regulations, discrimination laws,
abortion, treaties etc. The House passes legislation that more applies to one state or district.
These are not the limits, just generalities.

An interactive web site for you exploration https://votesmart.org/education/...

The President is elected for 4 years, and can only serve 2 terms.

There are three co-equal branches to the U.S. government:

The Legislative: House and Senate


Create the laws.

The Executive: President


Carries out the laws.

The Judicial: Supreme Court


Reviews the laws when there is a dispute.

These are brief high lights only. If you have a specific question, please reply in comment
sections here, and I or someone else will help.

Great question!!

Written Feb 28, 2014 View Upvotes Answer requested by Nadeem Hussain
Maheswar Deka

1.2k Views

There were 13 original colonies that became the United States of America in 1789:

1. Connecticut

2. Delaware

3. Georgia

4. Maryland

5. Massachusetts

6. New Hampshire

7. New Jersey

8. New York

9. North Carolina

10. Pennsylvania

11. Rhode Island

12. South Carolina

13. Virginia

The US is a Federal system. This means that power is divided between a national
government (Federal Government) and the States.

The Federal Government has three branches/arms:

Legislative Branch: House of Representatives and Senate


Executive Branch: President, Cabinet, Federal Departments and Agencies

Judicial Branch: Supreme Court, Other Federal Courts

There are 50 States. Each State has an elected Governor and a legislature consisting of a
State House and a State Senate.

The election of the President and the Vice President of the United States is an indirect
vote in which citizens cast ballots for a slate of members of the U.S. Electoral College;
these electors in turn directly elect the President and Vice President.

Written May 26, 2015 View Upvotes

Cecilieaux Bois de Murier, policy observer in Washington for decades

1.1k Views

Concerning political parties, there are technically more than two but only two get the
attention and the money to win elections from time to time.

The Democratic Party was founded by Thomas Jefferson. For a long time after the Civil War
it was a predominantly Southern party, until Franklin D. Roosevelt refashioned it into a
coalition of groups that benefited from measures to combat the Great Depression in the
1930s. That is when the Democrats first became liberal-leaning and favoring labor unions
and worker rights, later civil rights.

The Republican Party was founded by Abraham Lincoln. It arose out of many of the issues
that gave rise to the Civil War and was supported mostly by the Northeastern elites made
rich by industrialization. For much of the second half of the 19th century it was a majority
party thanks to that support (and the exclusion of many groups from voting). The FDR
coalition, which fell apart in 1968, turned it into a minority party until the 1980s. The Grand
Old Party, as it was called long ago, reversed its fortunes primarily by attracting the votes of
white Southerners who never forgave the Democratic Party for supporting the Civil Rights
Act of 1964, which ended legal segregation.

At present, the long-term demographics are working in favor of a future Democratic


majority, as non-Hispanic whites are rapidly becoming a minority (Anglo-Saxon whites
already are), but the plutocracy may find a way to corrupt the political process and keep the
Republicans in play.
The electoral process is different in each of the 50 states, although most follow the patterns
set by the Constitution, which you should read about.

Student government is a pretend-democracy in many schools and universities in which


students get to play-act at elections, "governing" and so forth. Most education
administrators pretend that they are important, but they are not.

Written Jul 19, 2015

Steve Tenbrink, is a Computer geek and history buff.

957 Views

It doesn't work well. The fact that GW Bush won the election in 2000 even though he lost
the popular vote is indicative of some of our problems. The way a president is elected in the
USA is a result of the founding fathers not trusting the average citizen to directly vote for
president. We us something called the "Electoral College" where we vote for representative
who then vote for the president. Very arcane. The parliamentary system used in other
countries is probably more in tune with the electorate than was we have in the US.

Written Jul 9, 2015

Robert 't Hoen., One time sexual abuse victim.Try to help victims if I can.

942 Views

That depends on which of the two political systems in the US you mean.
Do you mean the system,whereby a public relations specialist is officially chosen by the
public every four years to hold speaches and show his nice family to the publc?
This public relations guy,we call the President of The United States,is supposed to shake
hands at political conventions and put his signature at the dotted line.

Or do you mean the real American political system behind the screens,were real decisions
are being taken,the corridors of power where wars are being planned,because thousands of
tanks,jeeps and armoured vehecles need a lot of fuel,and that stimulates the economy.
Bill Clinton once said in an interview:
"There is a Government within this Government I have no control over".
That is the most significant,the most important,all revealing quote I've ever heard about
American politics.
With High Regards,
Robert 't Hoen.
The Netherlands.

Written Aug 9, 2015

Tural Huseynov, Whether I shall turn out to be the hero of my own life, or whether that
stati...

993 Views

According to Directgov (2012), the National Curriculum is a framework used by all the
maintained schools to ensure that teaching and learning is balanced and consistent.
The National Curriculum is thought by many to be complex and unclear. However, it is at
the heart of the education system in England. This is noted by Baumann et al (1997) and
Kyriacou (2009) who document that the basis for the National Curriculum was established
in the Education Reform Act 1988; creating the idea that education must begin with the
needs and interests of the child. The following model acknowledges how the National
Curriculum is central to a school and a pupils learning.

School Curriculum
Basic Curriculum
National Curriculum

It can suggest that the National Curriculum is a central organising feature to school learning
and allows a core curriculum to be delivered in a standardised way. By identifying the skills
required for learning, the National Curriculum provides a range of contexts and
opportunities that presents a chance for all pupils to succeed as well as allowing for some
flexibility in teaching.
There are a range of key features within the National Curriculum and these have been
outlined by the Department for Education (2011). They are;

* to create a national benchmark through coherence across schools,


* to set out essential knowledge that best meets the needs of the children,
* to raise standards of all children and
* to identify key subject disciplines.
The key features identified offer a source of support in teaching and in addition, they
provide a direction of learning.
The National Curriculum has an established key stage structure that can provide the
coherence needed across maintained schools. However, the key stage structure offers
statutory and non-statutory subjects. For example, Design and Technology is a statutory
subject at key stage three but at key stage four the subject becomes non-statutory. One of
the main key features is to create a national benchmark, and this is done through many
forms of assessment throughout a school career. Assessment plays a number of crucial roles
in relation to the National Curriculum and since children develop at different rates,
providing a national benchmark of level descriptors within the National Curriculum allows
teachers and schools to map and judge a pupils progress. Furthermore, this can give an idea
of how a child is developing in terms of their age as a pupils attainment will be assessed and
reported in terms of these levels.

Kilpatrick (1918) and Pring (1976) comment that a curriculum provides the underlying
theory of value reflected in the concern for the interests of the child. This supports the
National Curriculum with reference to the key feature of setting out essential knowledge
that best meets the needs of the children. However both authors maintain that this cannot
be done without a certain hierarchy of values and needs. Maslow (1954) identified these
values and needs, and in terms of the National Curriculum they relate to identity,
relationships, society and the environment. All these values are fundamental to the progress
and development of a pupils learning and as a basis of fulfilment and inspiration. If a child
can gain knowledge relating to these values, then they will become successful learners who
achieve their potential.
For each subject, the National Curriculum proposes a programme of study. Curriculum
opportunities in programmes of study, for example Design and Technology encourage
working and making links with other subjects. Horizontal integration has taken place within
the National Curriculum with regards to resistant materials, electronics, textiles and food
technology, as they have all been merged under the same heading of Design and
Technology. However, this has allowed vertical integration to occur between subjects within
the National Curriculum. For example, Design and Technology incorporates numeracy,
literacy, citizenship and ICT skills, which provide cross-curricular learning for pupils. This
can help in raising standards of all children, which has been identified as a key feature of the
National Curriculum.
Another key feature is that the National Curriculum identifies key subject disciplines. All the
National Curriculum subjects are organised to show a carefully designed framework that
will maximise a learners opportunities to achieve success. As illustrated by the QCA (2007),
for Design and Technology, the curriculum is organised into 4 parts, which are:
1. key concepts
2. key features
3. range and content
4. curriculum opportunities.
The key concepts aspect is then divided up into further sub-sections and these are:
* designing and making
* cultural understanding
* creativity
* critical evaluation.

As an increasingly important subject, the key concepts demonstrate how Design and
Technology creates an interactive decision making process for pupils. For instance the
subject combines a practical base with a sound knowledge base, while allowing learning to
take place from other areas of the curriculum. In order to learn, pupils have to think
creatively and diversely to develop innovative products that can meet a human need.
Although the National Curriculum is content based, Design and Technology allows pupils to
absorb content because it acknowledges creativity. This allows for a fuller development
process. Furthermore the National Curriculum with regards to Design and Technology
understands that children have active minds.
Design and Technology is considered to be an accessible subject to all pupils. It allows
children to be responsible and work with peers, which helps to demonstrate their
independence through solving challenges presented in projects. Therefore it is important
that the range and content of Design and Technology allows for pupils to build on the key
concepts and key processes. This can involve working in a stimulating environment that can
help to draw on needs and opportunities which can allow for creative thinking to be
encouraged. Studying a range of areas enables the subject to enrich pupils learning
experiences. Although a child may be asked to design and complete a project by creating and
developing a product, teachers can adopt focused practical tasks to help pupils practice and
consolidate particular skills and knowledge. Through these tasks, teachers can ensure that
particular opportunities are made available to pupils with an emphasis in one or more of the
aspects of Design and Technology.

Curriculum opportunities can be related to the key concepts as it increases the emphasis on
designing and making, cultural understanding, creativity and critical evaluation through
incorporating a range of different subjects. With regards to food technology, Design and
Technology could be identified to provide a mixed diet in terms of a childs education. This
is because Design and Technology presents curriculum opportunities as there is a breadth to
the subject that uses integration by contributing to the whole curriculum. This equips
children with functional skills and essential experience that allows them to reflect on a
broader environment, especially because Design and Technology encompasses practical and
theory. Offering curriculum opportunities in Design and Technology can have an effect on a
pupils achievement and enjoyment as it can help raise the standards in other subjects, for
example English and maths.
It can be seen that the National Curriculum has a strong framework with a clear aim and
purpose that outlines the key educational processes. In the Design and Technology
programme of study, it can be seen that it provides curriculum continuity which can help in
a child realising their full potential within a subject area as they can use many different
skills and processes. The National Curriculum helps to align assessment and Design and
Technology allows pupils to understand resource development and allocation within a
certain context while achieving and enjoying a practical based subject. From the National
Curriculum it can be seen that the key stage structure has benefits and issues. Although the
structure provides a fairly balanced structure and teachers are familiar with it, towards the
end of the key stage three learning some pupils are thought to be unengaged with a more
negative attitude towards learning. However, creating this national benchmark has allowed
teachers to level pupils attainments and provide a strong foundation for key stage four
which can lead to a higher attainment at this level.

Even though the National Curriculum provides clear features, it is important to constantly
review the relevance of the changing environments that pupils are exposed to in order to
provide a appropriate scheme of work within the programmes of study. This will provide an
effective model that can be followed throughout a childs learning to maximise their
potential in the future.

Written May 17, 2013

Robert J. Kolker

885 Views

I will keep this short. For the theoretical answer to your question read the Constitution of
the United States of America. That is the supreme law of the land (in theory). Next read
Akhill Reed Amar's Book: The Unwritten Constitution. This adds the court precedents and
the unwritten but legally tolerated procedures and powers that have grown up over the
years.

If Thomas Jefferson could see what the Constitution has become we would spin in his grave.