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Foundations of American Government

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What is Government?
Government is among the oldest of all human inventions. The origins of governments are lost in time. But, clearly, government first appeared when human beings realized that they could not survive some way to regulate their own actions and as well as their neighbors. More than 2,300 years ago, the Greek philosopher Aristotle observed that “man is by nature a political animal.” Government is the institution through which a society makes and enforces its public policies. Government is made up of those people who exercise its powers, all those who have authority and control over people. Public policies: All of those things a government decides to do (taxation, defense, education, crime, healthcare, transportation, environment, civil rights etc.) Politics: the process by which a society decides how power and resources will be distributed within that society. Politics enables a society to decide who defined as a body of people, living in a defined territory, organized politically and with the power to make and enforce law without the consent of any higher authority. The United States government exercises three basic powers
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Legislative: Have the power to make laws and to frame public policies Executive: Have the power to execute, enforce, and administer laws Judicial: Have the power to interpret laws, to determine their meaning, and to settle disputes that arise within the society

Purpose of government
Constitution of the United States clearly defined the purposes of American government. American system of government was created to serve these purposes.

Form a more perfect union: The original 13 States adopted the constitution of today which was written in 1787 in order to link themselves, and the American people, more closely together. And to end the intense rivalries and jealousies among the States after United States won its independence from Great Britain. The Constitution was built in the belief that in union there is strength.

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Establish Justice: The law, in both its content and its administration, must be reasonable, fair, and impartial. Insure domestic tranquility: Set laws and orders. Order is essential to the well-being of any society, and keeping the peace at home has always been the prime function of government. Provide for the common defense: Provide security, maintains an army, navy, air force, coast guard and defend the nation against foreign enemies. Promote the general welfare: Extent of Government acts as the servant of its citizens. Establish Public schools, promote the general welfare. Make Efforts to protect the quality of the air the people breathe, the water the people drink and the food you eat. Secure the blessings of liberty: This nation was founded by those who loved liberty; Patriotism is the love of one’s country. Government is to serve the country both by defending it from invasion or by protecting its rights and maintaining its laws and institutions.

Forms of Government
Government can be classified by three different standards. 1. Who can participate in the governing process 2. The geographic distribution of the governmental power within the state 3. The relationship between the legislative (lawmaking) and the executive (law-executing) branches of the government Unitary Government has all powers held by a single, central agency Confederate Government is an alliance of independent states. Federal government is one in which the powers of government are divided between a central government and several local governments.

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Democracy American government is a Democratic Government. In democracy, people hold the supreme authority. The people hold the sovereign power, and government is conducted only by and with the consent of the people. Abraham Lincoln gives this definition of democracy in 1873: “government of the people, by the people, for the people.” A democracy can be either direct or indirect in form. American government practice indirect democracy since direct democracy can’t work on a country like the United States where big population exists. Direct democracy: Also called pure democracy, exist where the will of the people is translated into public policy (law) directly by the people themselves, in mass meetings. Clearly, directly democracy can work only small communities, where

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the citizenry can meet in a central place, and where the problems of government are few and relatively simple. Indirect Democracy: Also called representative democracy. In a representative democracy, a small group of persons, chosen by the people to act as their representatives, expresses the popular will. These agents of the people are responsible for carrying out the day to day conduct of government the making and executing of laws. Dictatorship Dictatorship is the oldest, and the most common form of government known to history. All dictatorships are authoritarian; those in power hold absolute and unchallengeable authority over the people. Sometimes dictatorships are identified as either autocracies or oligarchies. Although they do exist, one-person dictatorships (autocracy) are not at all common today. Typically, dictatorial regimes are militaristic in character. They usually gain power by force. Autocracy: A government in which a single person holds unlimited political power. Oligarchy: A government in which the power to rule is held by a small, usually self-appointed elite.

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Basic Concepts of Democracy
• • • • • Recognition of fundamental worth and dignity of every person: Respect for the equality of all persons Faith in majority rule and an insistence upon minority rights Acceptance of the necessity of compromise Insistence upon the widest possible degree of individual freedom

Constitution: the body of fundamental laws setting out the principles, structures, and processes of a government. (Outline of the government power). English colonists in American brought with them three main concepts. • The need for an ordered social system or a government • The idea of limited government, that is, that government should not be allpowerful. • The concept of representative government; a government that serves the will of the people.

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The United States constitution was written in 1787, over 200 years old. In fact, U.S constitution is one of the world’s oldest written constitutions and still effective. From May to September 1787, the men, known as the farmers, met in Philadelphia and wrote the constitution. The Constitution is organized into eight sections: the Preamble and seven articles. The original document is followed by 27 amendments.

The people who wrote the U.S constitution are known as farmers, when the farmers wrote the constitution, they knew the constitution wasn’t perfect. They wanted to be sure that it wasn’t hard to make change the constitution for future generation, but also wanted to make sure it wasn’t too easy. They added an amendment process. An amendment is a change to the constitution. It can even over write a previous amendment. The 5th article in the constitution set out two methods for the proposal and two methods for the ratification of constitutional amendments, creating four possible methods of formal amendment. In 1791, 10 changes (Amendments) were added to constitution proposed by Congress. These ten changes are called the bills of rights. The bill of rights is a list of rights that belong to the people that the government is not allowed to break.

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The four different ways to add amendments to constitution

Amend ments The Bill of Rights

Federalism: Powers Divided

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Federalism is a system of government in which a written constitution divides the powers of government on a territorial basis, between a central government and several regional governments, usually called states or provinces. American system of government stands as a prime example of federalism. The basic design of the system is written in the Constitution. The document provides for a division of power between the National Government and the governments of the 50 States. Federal Government also can identify as National Governments. In the American federal system, each of the two basic levels of government can make certain decision and do certain things that the other level cannot. For instance, only the Federal Government can regulate interstate commerce, which is trade conducted between and among the various States. On the other hand, each of the States decides for itself whether those who commit certain crimes in the State can be put to death.

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Book Sources
Magruder’s American government Democracy by O’Donnell, Liam Writers Inc. A guide to writing, thinking, & learning

Web Sources