The features of any government are the pillars on which it is founded and identified. The United States of America is one of the governments in the world that is identified by its features. The essay will look into various elements that make the US administration. First, the American Constitution, which contains the rights and freedoms of the American people, will be analyzed. In turn, the processes, structures, and systems involved and affected by the Constitution will be discussed. Also, Federalism, which allows devolved functions for more efficiency, arms of the government that are given a mandate by the people to guard the nation and political parties of America will be discussed. It is through political parties that the voices of citizens are heard as they provide grounds for collective bargaining. The political parties also help to group constituents in standard categories. They also simplify choices for voters by formulating policies (American Government, 2009).
The American Constitution opens by a preamble that assures that the document was created for the people. In the preamble, the intentions and the objectives of the American people are well articulated. It is then followed by Article 1 in which sections 1 through to 7 talk majorly of the House of Representatives (Leduc, 2016). The House of Representatives, as the name suggests, is the representation of the citizens, while the Senate is a representation of the states. Sections 8 through to 10 talk about the mandate of the Congress. The sections identify the level of authority of the Congress, what it is meant to do, and what it cannot do, among other things. The Constitution also provides guidelines for the formation of the National government and its three arms.
The Constitution protects the rights and freedoms of its individual citizens. Also, the American Constitution separates the power of the national government from that of the federal government, hence, avoiding friction and misunderstanding regarding jurisdiction (Lee, 2013). The foundation laid by the Constitution to help the national government to mediate and to solve interstate issues, and the ability to offer checks and balances to all the three arms of the government concurrently, are two major strengths of the American Constitution.
It has been claimed that America has been able to stand for more than 200 years due to her Constitution. However, the Constitution has some flaws that hinder its affectivity. For example, the amendment process of the Constitution is slow such that it cannot be relied on during emergencies. The stated factor is slowly leading the country into a bipartisan. The Constitution is also vague in some of its sections. Such parts need to be amended to cover each and every aspect affecting the people in the most articulate way. The suggested can only happen if citizens take it upon themselves to study the Constitution to avoid any manipulation by the legislators (Kelly, Harbison & Belz, 2008).
Federalism is defined as a government system in which power is shared between the central government and the states. The concept and definition were arrived at by delegates from different US states after the trial of both Confederation, and the unitary government failed. Federalism began as a compromise to resolve the many disadvantages of the previously tried forms of government. Therefore, it is necessary to highlight one advantage of Federalism that made it more favorable compared to both unitary and Confederation states.
One advantage of Federalism is that it distributes power between the national government and the states (Lahav, 2016). The distribution ensures that there is no tyranny on either side. The concept also provides that no one entity has full and absolute power. Absolute power would lead to dictatorship and irreconcilable governance. Through Federalism, it is impossible for anyone entity to claim autonomy regarding power. The balance brought about by Federalism ensures that both the national government and the federal states are accountable for their actions (Zimmerman, 2009).
The Social Security Administration (SSA) is one of the policies that the federal bureaucracy must implement. SSA is a system where Americans are put under a pay-as-you-go system, also referred to as “forced saving.” The method is advantageous as it helps a majority of the American population that consumes all their income without thinking about the need to save. The SSA policy has been able to reduce the American retirees’ poverty rates from 78% in the early 20th century, to 12% in the 21st century. The policy, albeit forced, has immensely worked for the benefit of the people. Its biggest selling point is that it applies to a wide range of the population as SSA is easily deducted on every payslip (Social Security Bulletin, 2017).
A disadvantage, however, of the forced system is that it was wrongly marketed as a fully fledge insurance. Hence, the American people have stopped caring about their insurance and thrown themselves under the SSA banner, which has limited benefits. Indeed, citizens believe that they are fully covered under SSA, a belief that is not only alarming but also dangerous. The forced saving system has led to the development of ignorance among many people. Interestingly, Americans have also started ignoring pension schemes, which would grant them better security at old age, in a belief that SSA will pay them better benefits. Both the federal and the national governments should take it upon themselves to educate citizens on how the SSA works, its coverage and limitations, as well as its inclusiveness.
The suggested civic education would also demystify the idea that SSA can wholly be used as personal insurance. Through the said public education, citizens will be able to understand the importance of personal insurance and be motivated to register with different insurance companies. By so doing, both the federal and central government will help reduce poverty levels in old age and sufferings among the young due to ignorance of how SSA operates.
Branches of the American Government
There are three arms of the American government. The executive, the first branch, includes the president, the vice-president, and the cabinet. The legislature, which is the second arm of government, consists of the Congress, the Senate and the House of Representatives. The third branch of government is the judiciary, which consists of the Supreme Court and the federal courts.
While the executive arm is well suited for the implementation of the laws and giving of executive orders, it cannot work without the legislature and the judiciary. The president, who is also the head of the judiciary, is responsible for the appointing of the Chief Justice and other members of the executive, such as members of the cabinet. The judiciary, as mentioned, consists of federal and national supreme courts and is responsible for some functions. The primary purpose being the interpretation of the clauses made by the legislative arm of the government. In cases where the Constitution is unclear about some matters, the judiciary is mandated to act by forming ‘judiciary-made laws.’
The legislature, which is the law-making branch, has been chosen as per the instructions of the assignment. The legislative is tasked with powers to make laws. Hence, it is a critical part of the government. Though the American president has the power to veto some of the decisions made by Congress, which is part of the legislature, the final decision will still be made by Congress after it considers the opinion of the president. Additionally, Congress can go ahead and advance the cause of the law without the president’s consent. Being the only body that makes laws, the legislative arm is very powerful (Barber, 2016).
The fact that Congress has to seek approval of amendments from both the Senate and the House of Representatives ensures that decisions are made inclusively without any house feeling side-lined. In the Senate, for example, the opinion of the minority is cherished. If a bill is not passed by the full House, deliberations will take place to understand the reasons why some members do not agree with the proposed bill. However, the process of continued consultation has acted as one of the major weaknesses of the legislature.
Much time is wasted when passing a bill such that it becomes irrelevant. The irrelevance is fully realized during urgent situations. It has been argued that the fact that a minority can be able to stall a bill has dragged the country, especially in bills that are believed to be able to lead the country into further prosperity. Unlike in the Senate, in the House of Representatives, there is limited democracy since the party with the most representation makes decisions without considering the minority party. Thus, canceling the efforts that are being enhanced by the Senate, where all parties are included in the decision-making process (Patterson, 2013). There is a need to clearly articulate the boundaries of the judiciary and the executive towards the legislative arm in an attempt to keep the legislation stronger. It is also important to come up with amendments that would ensure limited consultation in the Senate, but at the same time, also encourage inclusiveness of the legislation process. There would be a need for the Senate to consider the majority rule and the House of Representatives to consider the minority voice to resolve the mentioned weaknesses.
US political parties are organized at different levels. The categories range from local levels to state levels and finally to national levels. At the local levels, citizens vie for the positions of mayors freely and do not have to be affiliated with any party. Such elections are, thus, referred to as non-partisan elections. At the state levels, the elections are not non-partisan since those elected are either representing the state in the legislative body or taking an active role in the running of the state’s affairs.
Each of the two largest American political parties has national committees that help in their organization. The representatives also help with coming up with contingency approaches during elections. Political parties also offer support in managing and pushing supporters towards one goal as they come up with policies that define the group’s stand. The parties also act as channels that are used to convince and persuade citizens to vote a given candidate into office.
There are several benefits associated with political parties. First, the parties have been able to act as watchdogs to the government. They ensure that government operations are on in check by putting up checks and balances to the systems of the country. In turn, the parties encourage accountability. Being that some parts of the American Constitution were vaguely written, as mentioned, the political parties have been instrumental in offering an interpretation to certain clauses of the Constitution. The interpretation has led to the continual positive development of the country in the most desired direction.
One negative impact of political parties, however, is the creation of ideological differences that have led to hatred and sparked variances between sects in the country. Such diverse differences have polarized America and increased chances of interstate and intra-state conflicts. The American Civil War was one of the conflicts brought on by differences in political parties. To strengthen the positive impact of political parties, the Constitution and other laws of the country, firmly guide their involvement, mandate, and participation. To lessen the negative consequences of sowing discord, national committees to the political parties are supposed to intensify the sensitization of their candidates and supporters to other parties. Also, the does and don’ts of political campaigns and penalties stipulated in the Constitution on actions on those found guilty of causing conflicts on political, ideological differences have kept conflict at bay (Gold, 2015).
America, as a democratic country, pays attention to its system of ruling. The country has survived many years of unity with a constitution that is more than 200 years old. The American Constitution protects the rights and freedoms of its citizens and has been able to control power ratios between the federal and the national government. The Constitution allows for the creation of the three arms of the government hence being referred to as the law of the land. The American Constitution is founded on six solid principles ranging from popular sovereignty, separation of powers, limited government, checks and balances, judicial review, and lastly, the federal states.
Federalism has been able to strike an almost perfect balance between unitary government and a confederation, thereby, holds the US together. The branches of the government have sustained one another over an extended period due to the clear stipulation of their different duties and mandates by the Constitution. The legislature is the law-making arm and the key determiner of the direction that both the federal states and the national government take.
The political parties, which initially had been perceived to be the cause of all American political problems, have proven to be a strong pillar in the country. One of the major advantages of political parties is the interpretation of vague parts of the Constitution. Interpretation of the Constitution by the political parties has led to sustained growth and development concerning both infrastructure and service delivery. Political parties have also swayed elections as candidates are nominated, mainly, through political parties. The dynamism in the American government is indeed fuel to its unparalleled success.
Barber, M. J. (2016). Ideological Donors, Contribution Limits, and the Polarization of American Legislatures. Journal of Politics, 78(1), 296-310.
Gold, H. (2015). Americans’ Attitudes toward the political parties and the party system. Public Opinion Quarterly, 79(3), 803-819.
Kelly, A., Harbison, W. & Belz, H. (2008). The American Constitution: Its origin and development. New York, NY: Ventura.
Lahav, A. D. (2016). The roles of litigation in American democracy. Emory Law Journal, 65(6), 1657-1704.
Leduc, A. (2016). Beyond babel: Achieving the promise of our American Constitution. Cleveland State Law Review, 64(2), 185-249
Lee, T. H. (2013). International Law and Institutions and the American Constitution in War and Peace. Berkeley Journal of International Law, 31(1), 291-306
Patterson, T. (2013). American democracy. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill
Social Security Bulletin (2017). Social Security: A Program and Policy History. Social Security Office of Policy, Web.
Zimmerman, J. (2009). Contemporary American Federalism. New York, NY: State University of New York Press.