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In a constitutional form of government, the government is structured in a way that the constitution is the principal guiding document. A constitution generally comprises a set of fundamental guiding principles and laws established to be the overall principals based on which a state is governed, and no institution or individual should be above them. America is governed by a written constitution.
The American Government follows the federal system and is referred to as The Federal Government of the United States made up of the fifty states with the government seat located in Washington D.C, which is neutral as it is not located in any state (Woll 98).
Separation of Powers, Checks and Balances and Federalism
The separation of powers in the American Government means that power is not concentrated in one area but divided into different branches. In this format, the US government is divided into three branches of which each has separate and independent mandates and responsibilities and none is more important than the other is, rather they compliment one another.
Namely, they are the executive, judiciary and legislature. The powers of these branches is clearly stipulated in the U.S. Constitution but the fine specifications are in the laws enacted by Congress
These branches represent the federal government. The executive powers are mainly vested in the president, the judiciary mainly represented by the Supreme Court and congress for the legislature.
Though these branches are sub autonomous they have been given powers to check each other to ensure none misuses its powers. The Legislature is mainly represented by Congress (senate and house of representative), and has the powers to make and amend laws.
It also has the powers to check the Executive in the following ways: with a two third majority they can overrule the presidential vetoes, presidential appointments and treaties made are approved by senate, legislature has the power in regarding funding of executive actions and through impeachment, the legislature can remove a sitting president. The Congress has the mandate to declare war and designing major policies especially foreign policies. It also approves various budget proposals.
In checking the Judiciary, the Legislature is the one responsible for making lower courts, approves appointment of judges and may remove judges through impeachment (Quirk & Binder 123). On its part, the Executive has various checks and balances. It has the mandate of carrying out the laws and checks the legislature in the following ways: it has the veto power and ability to call special sessions of congress; it can also recommend legislation or appeal to the people on issues concerning legislation.
The executive also checks the judiciary in that the president has the mandate of appointing the Supreme Court and the other various federal judges. The judiciary has the power, to interpret laws. In its checking mandates the judiciary can rule on the actions of the executive as unconstitutional, once appointed for life the executive cannot interfere with the judges. The courts can also rule legislative acts as unconstitutional.
Most of Americans do not have trust in their government. They do not believe that their government can deliver major assignments and tasks so they believe in the privatization of their organizations. Bureaucracies are thus formed of which they are well organized, with specialized agents with a clearly defined and spelt out hierarchy of power distribution. Leadership is also hierarchical and chosen on merit rather than inheritance.
Many of the most talented and knowledgeable people in America are found in these bureaus. The bureaus provide most of the services in America like investigation, which can be delegated to various agencies like the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) or the Criminal Investigation Agency (CIA).
Bureaus also make laws after being permitted by Congress and empowered to write specific rules although Congress can change them if they drift far from the intended targets. Some of the Agencies are created by Congress and specified on the job to do. Nevertheless, the agencies are left independent to accomplish the task without any interference (Wilson 45).
Political parties have become an integral part for all democracies. In the US, they play significant key roles in the society. The party that wins the democratic elections forms the government. They link the citizens with the government machinery and at times transmit popular preferences into suitable preferred policies.
They also provide order to the legislative process and are vehicles for the citizens to, actively choose their preferred leaders. Parties also provide channels for people to express their combined interests and demands.
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In the US people have consistently, adhered to the de facto two-party system. Historically the two major parties have set the platform for elites to mobilize and actualize the different ideological development policies. Political parties in the US have been in existence since the establishment of American State and adoption of the American Constitution.
The interest groups play a major role in the U.S. They champion for the rights of various groups especially the minority groups. Interest groups exist in almost all areas like commerce, family, religion, democracy, and human rights. They pressurize the government to change certain policies perceived to be oppressive or not working.
They also highlight certain neglected areas that affect the nation like religion. They thus keep the government in check and ensure human rights are not violated, rights to worship, freedom of association, and other important areas.
The media is one of the most important informal tools of scrutinizing the government and its activities. The freedom of press has been stressed and maintained. People are able to acquire crucial information about the government activities and policies. During the presidential campaigns, various presidential debates are broadcast live on National Television.
The debates affect the candidates’ scrutiny and ratings. The campaigns of various candidates are also televised enabling the viewers to make choice of their preferred candidate by following what the candidates are saying.
The media has also played a major role in educating people about the various laws, policies, scandals, proceedings and many more. The media unveiled the WikiLeaks scandal.
This involved the unveiling of the contents of various diplomatic cables and secrets. Throughout history, the media has been important in pinpointing and revealing certain malpractices in government. For example the Watergate Scandal which forced Nixon out of office (Cigler & Loomis 232).
The Federal Government of the United States is a complex institution that encompasses the cooperation of the various states. It is divided into three branches these are the Legislature, Executive, and the Judiciary that are independent from one another.
For objective function, these branches have been given certain roles to check each other’s powers. However, the government cannot function alone. Various stakeholders have been involved in the regulation and efficient functioning of the government.
Cigler, Allan., & Loomis Burdett. American Politics: classic and temporary readings. New York: Houghton Mifflin, 1995.
Quirk, Paul., &Binder Sarah. The Legislative Branch. Oxford: Oxford University press, 2006.
Wilson, James. American Government. Boston: Wadsworth, 2009.
Woll, Peter. American Government. New York: Longman, 2009.