U.S. Political System

U.S. Political System

The US system of government is based on the principles of 18th century British organization. The goal of the creators of the first constitution was to preserve and develop all democratic elements and to eliminate those that hindered the free development of society. It differs from the British system in that it is a federal system, in which some powers are vested in the federal parliament and government and others are vested in state legislatures. The use of names such as Capitol and Senate was motivated by the intention to express idealized ideas of Roman and Greek democracy.

Priority was given to a written constitution over the traditional British model of individual legislative acts. The Constitution allows for continuous changes. A draft amendment to the constitution must be expressed by 2/3 of the representatives of both houses and approved by a three-quarters majority. In this way, 26 amendments (amendments) to the constitution have already been adopted.

According to Aparentingblog.com, the first 10 amendments were adopted in 1791 and are known as the Bill of Rights. They clearly guarantee freedom of speech, religion and the press and the right to a speedy and fair trial. The 10th Amendment delegates all powers not mentioned in the Constitution to the individual states or the people.

Three amendments—the 13th, 14th, and 15th—were enacted after the Civil War. They brought the abolition of slavery and civil rights, including the right to vote, to all native-born and naturalized Americans. The 14th Amendment guarantees all Americans “equal protection of the laws.”

Later amendments continued to expand the political rights of citizens and clarified outdated and confusing clauses of the original constitution. The 19th Amendment (passed in 1919) gave women the right to vote for federal bodies (some states had done so earlier). The 20th Amendment expedited the change of government after a presidential election, and the 25th established the procedure for the death or resignation of a president during his term of office.

The framers of the constitution were primarily interested in limiting federal powers and transferring them to individual states. The basic principle of the constitution and the organization of state power is the separation of legislative, executive and judicial powers. The head of state is the president, who is elected for four years (at most two consecutive terms) indirectly by the electorate elected in the individual states of the Union.

The direct election of the president by the citizens was rejected out of fear that it would easily lead to corruption and the election of demagogues and populists. In practice, however, the Electoral College has become a mere formality, and it is even claimed that the fears of the system’s creators have come true.

The President must be at least 35 years old, a natural-born citizen of the United States who has resided in their territory for at least 14 years. He usually has considerable wealth as well as political support. In theory, he rules only the executive branch of the government, but in practice he can also influence foreign policy and, as the leader of the strongest party, also the legislative process of Congress. Due to the separation of basic powers, he often does not have a direct opportunity to implement his decisions, especially if his party does not win a majority in Congress. In such cases, his limited veto power allows for tactical maneuvering and usually leads to compromises, but sometimes also to impasses.

Congress creates laws, has the right to decide on taxes and declare war, and to determine the rules of its own activities. In extreme cases, he can put the president on trial. Congress consists of two chambers: the House of Representatives and the Senate. Members of Parliament are elected by each state for a two-year term. Their number is governed by the population of individual states, and the House of Representatives has 435 deputies in total. Members of Congress must be at least 25 years old, live in the US and have been US citizens for at least nine years. Each state elects two senators for six-year terms. Every two years, 1/3 of the Senate changes. The Senate has more authority than the lower house of parliament and its 16 standing committees are powerful organs of power.

At the head of the judicial branch is the Supreme Court of the United States. It represents the highest authority in the field of interpretation of laws and the constitution, and also has the function of the court of last instance against the decisions of other courts at the federal level and the supreme courts of individual states. Its nine judges are appointed by the president with the approval of the Senate for life. The appointment of judges is almost always influenced by political contexts.

Subordinate to the federal government are the state governments, whose structure usually mirrors that of the federal authorities. Each state has its own constitution, bicameral legislature (with the exception of Nebraska), executive branch, and court of justice. The governor, like most government officials and judges, is elected. Administrative bodies in larger cities are most often led by an elected mayor and council. Many local councils prefer an elected committee or a professional manager appointed by elected representatives.

There are only two major political parties in the US, as a third party would not be able to gain the necessary broad base. Simplistically, the Republicans can be characterized as the conservative party and the Democrats as the liberal party. However, both sides generate a wide range of opinions, and regional differences can challenge or even reverse this definition.

U.S. Political System