- The United States Constitution
- The Three Branches of Government
- The Political Parties
- The Electoral Process
- The Government’s Role in the Economy
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The United States Constitution
The United States Constitution is the supreme law of the United States of America. It was signed on September 17, 1787, by the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.
The Preamble to the United States Constitution is a brief introductory statement of the Constitution’s fundamental purposes and guiding principles. It states in general terms, and without reference to specific articles or sections, the reasons why the Constitutional Convention gathered in Philadelphia in 1787 and why the delegates later drafted and proposed the Constitution to the states for ratification. The Preamble explains what goals were sought by America’s founding fathers as they crafted a new document designed to correct flaws found in Articles of Confederation.
The Articles of the Constitution
The United States Constitution has a preamble and seven articles that describe the way the government is structured and how it operates. The Constitution is the supreme law of the land, which means that all other laws come from it.
The Preamble: We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.
Article I: The Legislative Branch
Article II: The Executive Branch
Article III: The Judicial Branch
Article IV: The States
Article V: The Amendment Process
Article VI: Debts, Supremacy, Oaths
Article VII: Ratification
The Bill of Rights
The first ten amendments to the United States Constitution are collectively known as the Bill of Rights. These amendments were ratified on December 15, 1791 and protect the natural rights of all American citizens.
The Bill of Rights guarantees the right to freedom of speech, freedom of religion, the right to bear arms, the right to a fair and speedy trial by jury, and many other important rights. These rights are essential to the protection of American citizens from government abuse and tyranny.
The Three Branches of Government
The United States federal government is composed of three distinct branches: legislative, executive, and judicial, whose powers are vested by the U.S. Constitution in the Congress, the president, and the federal courts, respectively.
The Legislative Branch
The legislative branch is in charge of creating laws. This branch is made up of the Senate and the House of Representatives. The number of representatives each state has is based on that state’s population. For example, California has 53 representatives, while Montana only has one.
Senators serve six-year terms, and representatives serve two-year terms. Every ten years, there is a Census, which figures out how many people live in each state. Based on these results, the number of representatives for each state can change.
The president vetoes laws that he does not agree with. In order to become a law, a bill must be passed by both the Senate and the House and then signed by the president. If the president vetoes a bill, it takes a two-thirds majority vote by both the Senate and the House to override his veto and pass the bill into law without his signature.
The Executive Branch
The executive branch is made up of the president and all the agencies that report to him or her. The president is responsible for carrying out the laws of the United States. The executive branch also includes the vice president, who is the second-in-command. The executive branch is responsible for enforcing the laws of our country. The president can veto a law that Congress passes, but Congress can override that veto with a two-thirds vote.
The Judicial Branch
The judicial branch is one of three co-equal branches of government in the United States federal system. The judicial branch includes the Supreme Court of the United States and lower courts, which interpret and apply federal law. Lower courts include district courts, which apply federal law; circuit courts, which review district court decisions for legal error; and state supreme courts, which review state law.
The Constitution gives Congress the power to create lower federal courts. Congress has created one Supreme Court and 89 district courts. There are currently 13 circuit courts. The Constitution gives the President the authority to appoint justices to the Supreme Court with the advice and consent of the Senate. Justices serve on the Court until they retire or resign.
The Constitution gives Congress exclusive authority over impeachment proceedings against federal officials, including members of the judicial branch. The House of Representatives initiates impeachment proceedings, and if a majority of representatives votes to impeach, the matter goes to trial in the Senate. A two-thirds vote of senators present is required to convict an impeached official and remove them from office.
The Political Parties
The United States has two major political parties, the Democrats and the Republicans. These two parties have different ideas about how the government should work. The Democrats want the government to be more involved in helping people, while the Republicans want the government to be less involved.
The Democratic Party
The Democratic Party is one of the two major political parties in the United States, along with the Republican Party. The party’s headquarters are located in Washington, D.C. They are often referred to as “the Dems”. The current Chairman of the Democratic National Committee is Tom Perez.
The Democratic Party was founded in 1828 by Andrew Jackson, John C. Calhoun, Martin Van Buren and other supporters of Jacksonian democracy. The party supports social liberalism and progressive policies, as well as strong regulation of the financial industry. They are generally considered to be more left-wing than the Republicans, although there is considerable variation within the party on economic issues.
The Democrats have won a majority of seats in the House of Representatives in every election since 2006, and they have controlled the chamber for all but four years since 1995. They also hold a majority in the Senate, although they lost control of it in the 2014 elections. The party also holds a majority of governorships and state legislatures across the country.
The Democrats have Im number supported civil rights legislation throughout their history ** including support for abolitionism**, **desegregation busing** , **voting rights act** , **same-sex marriage** , among others . The New Deal policies introduced by Franklin D Roosevelt during the Great Depression were particularly influential , as was Lyndon B Johnson’s Great Society during the 1960s . The party’s most prominent leaders have been presidents John F Kennedy , Jimmy Carter , Bill Clinton and Barack Obama .
The Republican Party
The Republican Party is one of the two major contemporary political parties in the United States, along with the Democratic Party. The GOP was founded in 1854 by opponents of the Kansas–Nebraska Act, which allowed for expansion of slavery into U.S. territories. The party generally supported laissez-faire economic policies and a strong national defense but grew more conservative in the late 19th century. Abraham Lincoln was the first Republican president (1861–65), followed by Ulysses S. Grant (1869–77). The populist wing of the party, led by William Jennings Bryan, gained control of the party in 1896 and nominated Bryan for president three times, winning twice (1896 and 1900) but losing in 1908 to Theodore Roosevelt’s breakaway Progressive (“Bull Moose”) candidacy.
In 1912, Roosevelt again ran as a third-party candidate under the Progressive (“Bull Moose”) banner, this time defeating incumbent William Howard Taft and becoming the first former president to win election to a non-consecutive second term. The 1920s saw a period of Republican presidential dominance; Warren G. Harding, Calvin Coolidge and Herbert Hoover were all elected to two terms as president (Hoover served one term after FDR’s death). Beginning with Franklin D. Roosevelt’s election in 1932 during the heart of the Great Depression, however, Democrats controlled all but two presidents until 1981 (Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter). Since then Republicans have gained control again, holding it for most of the time since then with only Bill Clinton (1993–2001) and Barack Obama (2009–2017) being exceptions.
In congressional elections, Republicans are typically stronger in rural areas and small towns while Democrats do better in cities and suburbs; urbanization and migration from farms to cities has steadily eroded GOP strength since FDR’s presidency. Republicans are generally strongest in the South and Midwest while Democrats do better in Northeast and West Coast states as well as some Midwestern states; these regional differences reected historic voting patterns dating back to when those respective areas were predominantly Democratic or Republican before 1932. The 21st century has seen an increasingly acrimonious divide between socially conservative “red state” voters who largely identify with the GOP (and particularly its evangelical Christian wing) and more liberal “blue state” voters who tend to vote Democrat; this has led some commentators to speak of a culture war between these two groups.
The Libertarian Party
The libertarian party is a political party in the United States that promotes civil liberties, non-interventionism, laissez-faire capitalism and limiting the size and scope of government. The party was founded in 1971 and is currently the third largest political party in the country. The party’s presidential nominee in 2016, Gary Johnson, received over 4 million votes, making it the most successful third-party presidential bid since 1996.
The Electoral Process
The United States of America has a unique political system. The President is both the head of state and the head of government. The President is elected every four years by the people who are registered to vote. The President is the leader of the country and makes decisions about what the country should do.
The Primary Elections
In the United States, a primary election is an election in which registered voters select a candidate to run for public office. Primary elections are one part of the nominating process for candidates for elective office. Candidates who win primaries and caucuses go on to run in the general election where they face off against candidates from other political parties.
The General Election
During a presidential election year, the primary elections are used to determine which candidates will represent each political party in the general election. The general election is held on the Tuesday following the first Monday in November, and it is when all eligible voters cast their ballots for president. In order to win the presidency, a candidate must receive a majority of electoral votes.
The President of the United States is not elected by popular vote. The President is elected by electoral vote. The President is the person who wins the majority of the 538 electoral votes. There are 538 electoral votes because there are 435 Representatives, 100 Senators, and 3 Electors from Washington D.C. A candidate needs 270 electoral votes to win the Presidency. The President is not elected by how many people voted for them nationally, but rather by how many electoral votes they won in each state.
The Government’s Role in the Economy
The United States has a mixed economy, which means that the government does not control all aspects of the economy. The government only intervenes in the economy to protect private property and to provide public goods and services. The government also regulates certain industries to protect consumers and the environment.
The U.S. government is empowered to help stabilize the economy by using fiscal policy—altering tax and spending levels. The main tools of fiscal policy are changes in government spending and taxation.
Fiscal policy can be expansionary or contractionary, depending on whether it is trying to stimulate the economy or cool it down. Expansionary fiscal policy seeks to increase aggregate demand in the economy by putting more money into circulation, while contractionary fiscal policy attempts to rein in inflation by taking money out of circulation.
The U.S. government has used both expansionary and contractionary fiscal policies at various times throughout history, but most recently it has been mostly expansionary since the Great Recession of 2008-2009.
Monetary policy is the process by which the monetary authority of a country, typically the central bank or currency board, controls either the price of very short-term borrowing or the money supply, often targeting an inflation rate or interest rate to ensure price stability and general trust in the currency.