Government is the system of people who create and enforce laws for a country or other organized community. It includes a constitution, which is a statement of the organization’s governing principles and philosophy. Governments also provide public services like schools, police departments and parks. They also impose taxes to raise money and draft budgets that determine how the funds raised will be spent.
Governments have existed for thousands of years. They have evolved from a recognition that a group’s self-defense is stronger when it works together as a unit. In modern times, governments are seen as necessary for a country to protect its citizens, maintain the economy and provide public services. However, there is a wide range of ways in which governments function, from democracies to dictatorships and from republics to oligarchies.
A central idea in the concept of government is that it must have the consent of those who are governed. This idea is most commonly expressed in President Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address when he said “government of the people, by the people and for the people.” This principle, along with other democratic principles like the separation of powers and checks and balances, are at the heart of the American form of government.
The United States government has three branches: the legislative branch, executive branch and judicial branch. The Framers of the US Constitution arranged the structure so that each branch must cooperate with and compete with the others in order to enact policy. The resulting system of checks and balances provides constraints on the power of each branch.
Congress makes the laws that govern America. The body of Congress is divided into two parts: the House of Representatives and the Senate. The number of representatives is based on how many people live in a state; more people get more representatives. The Senate has 100 members, two for every state except Alaska and Hawaii. The President must approve the bills passed by Congress before they can become law. He or she can veto legislation and nominate the heads of federal agencies and high court appointees.
The President is the head of the executive branch, which consists of his or her staff and Cabinet members. The President’s power to veto legislation is one of the checks and balances in the executive branch. The President also has the ability to remove the heads of federal agencies and appoint Supreme Court justices. The Supreme Court can overturn laws that are deemed unconstitutional.