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U.S. Politics

Political System of the USA

Topmost anchor point for the entire structure is the Constitution of the United States of America.
It was the 4th of July of the year 1776 when the colonies declared their independence from England. In the following years the political system was based on the "Articles of Confederation", which were a non-binding 'contract' for the member states. Seeing that this system didn't work out, the Continental Congress introduced the draft of a 'binding contract', later called the Constitution.
This draft of the Constitution was formally accepted in 1787 and needed 9 state votes to be ratified. That was in the following year and started with the State of Delaware, today nicknamed "the First State". Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Georgia, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Maryland, South Carolina and New Hampshire followed. The official date for the American Constitution to become effective was March 4th, 1789.

The Constitution

The Constitution sets up a federal system of government by dividing powers between the national, state and local governments.
Two characteristics of this three-tier system of American government are fundamental.
First, citizens elect officials to serve in the national, state and local governments. The authority of each level rests with the people.
Second, each level of government raises money through taxation from the citizens living in the area it serves. Unless each level of government can raise its own fiscal resources, it cannot act independently.
The idea of separating powers among the various elements of government was designed to restrict governmental power and prevent its abuse. Wherever possible, the Founding Fathers built a system of "checks and balances" into the Constitution so that no one part of the government could supplant the other.

The Branches

At the national level, the federal government is further divided into three autonomous branches.

The executive branch, symbolized by the office of the president of the United States, enforces the law.
The legislative branch, symbolized by the U.S. Congress, makes the laws.
And the judicial branch, symbolized by the Supreme Court, interprets these laws and decides whether they are compatible with the Constitution.



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Source: US Department of State International Information Program; magazineUSA.com
Last modified: 20040923
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