Government of North America
The federal government of the United States, as outlined in the U.S. Constitution, is divided into three branches:
The country’s legislative branch is the United States Congress, which consists of the House of Representatives and the Senate. Located in Washington D.C. (the District of Columbia), Congress creates and collects taxes in while also deciding how these funds are spent. Congress creates necessary laws and is also charged with keeping the country’s armed forces ready and prepared. In addition to these and other tasks, Congress is also responsible for declaring war if and when it is deemed necessary.
The House of Representatives is comprised of 435 members. Each member represents a district within a state and serves a two-year term. Anyone who has been a resident for seven years and is at least 25 years old is eligible for a seat in the House. Each state is allowed a number of Representatives and districts based on population. For example, since 1789, Delaware has had only one Representative. California, on the other hand, currently has 53.
Each state sends two delegates to the Senate, where representatives serve six-year terms. The Senate consistently stands at 100 members.
The Senate and the House of Representatives have different responsibilities. For example, the House has the power to impeach a President if it deems he should be removed from office. However, the Senate is then required to hold a trial in order to decide if he should remain.
The United States currently has two major political parties: the Republican Party and the Democratic Party. Abraham Lincoln was the first President to represent the Republican Party, which was founded in 1854 by anti-slavery activists. Eighteen Republicans have served as President.
The Democratic Party evolved from the original Anti-Federalist Party, which existed at the time of America’s formation. By 1860 the Democrats had formed a separate party and have had fifteen Presidents elected.
The country’s executive branch is headed by the President of the United States. The President has executive powers, which he shares with his Vice President and his appointed Cabinet members. He is in charge of the nation’s government and must approve all laws; additionally, he is required to protect the freedoms listed in the U.S. Constitution and to decide how best to defend his country.
Before a new law can be created, it must first be passed through both the House of Representatives and the Senate. The President then has the right to sign and accept the law, or he may choose to veto it, meaning he does not accept it. Congress can then attempt to pass the law without the President’s signature, but two-thirds of the vote is required in each House.
As the country’s chief diplomat, the President is also responsible for singing treaties, while two-thirds of the Senate vote is needed to ratify the agreement. The President also has the ability to pardon criminals, among other powers.
The judicial branch of the U.S. government consists of all of the nation’s court systems. At the top is the Supreme Court of the United States, which grants Congress the right to establish lower-level courts. The Supreme Court oversees cases involving the federal government and disputes between states. The Supreme Court can rule in any dispute concerning the U.S. Constitution and the rights and protections it contains.
Below the Supreme Court are the United States Courts of Appeals and then the United States District Courts. The district courts hear most disputes, while the Courts of Appeals are used for those who wish to appeal (or question) a ruling made in a district court.
The government of the United States truly represents the foundation laid by the country’s forefathers just as it was written in the Constitution. The system was approved in 1789 and is still in effect today. This model of democracy and representation by the people is used by leaders throughout the world.