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American Politics:

The U.S. is the most powerful nation on earth, economically, politically and militarily, although its political system is in several significant respects unlike any one in the world.

The Constitution:

Unlike Britain although as most nation states, the American political system is obviously defined through fundamental documents. The Declaration of 1776’s Independence and the 1789’s Constitution form the foundations of the U.S. federal government. The Declaration of Independence establishes the U.S. as an independent political unit, whilst the Constitution makes the fundamental structure of the federal government.

The U.S. Constitution is the shortest written constitution in the world along with just 7 articles and twenty-seven amendments. And also its brevity, the United States Constitution is remarkable for being a notably stable document. The first ten amendments were all approved in the 1789: the similar year as the original constitution: and are collectively termed as the Bill of Rights. If one accepts as these first ten amendments were in consequence part of the original constitutional settlement, there have only been seventeen amendments in over two hundred years the last substantive one:  reduction of the voting age to eighteen in the 1971 year.

One of the main purposes for this relative immutability is that: fairly deliberately on the element of its drafters: the Constitution is a very hard instrument to modify. First, a proposed amendment has to secure a two-thirds vote of members show in both house of Congress. After that three-quarters of the state legislatures have to approve the proposed change this stage may or may not be governed through an exact time limit.

Not merely is power spread among the various branches; the members of such branches are deliberately granted through the Constitution diverse terms of office that is an additional brake on quick political change. Consequently the President has a term of four years, whereas members of the Senate serve for six years and members of the House of Representatives provide for two years. Members of the Supreme Court efficiently provide for life.

The great advantage of such system is that power is spread and counter balanced and the 'founding fathers”: the fifty-five delegates who drafted the Constitution: clearly wanted to produce a political system that was in sharp contrast to and extremely democratic than, the monarchical system of total power then in force in Britain. The vast weakness of the system is that it composes government slow, complicated and legalistic that is a specific disadvantage in a world  not like that of the year 1776, in which economic and political developments are fast moving and the USA is a certainly the super power.

Living Constitution is an idea that claims that the Constitution has a dynamic sense and that contemporary society must be taken into account while interpreting key constitutional phrases. In place of seeking to divine the views of the drafters of the document, this claims that they deliberately wrote the Constitution in wide terms hence it would continue flexible. This approach tends to be supported through liberals.

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The Presidency:

Though the 'founding fathers' wanted to ignore a political system which in any way reflected the monarchical system then prevalent in Britain and for a extend time the Presidency was relatively weak, the huge expansion of the federal bureaucracy and the military in the twentieth century has in recent practice specified a greater role and additional power to the President than is the case for any particular individual in more political systems.

The President is both the head of government and the head of state, and also the military commander in chief and chief diplomat. He presides above the executive branch of the federal government, a huge organization numbering about four million people, comprising one million active duty military personnel. Inside the executive branch, the President has wide constitutional powers to control national issues and the workings of the federal government and he may problem executive orders to affect internal policies.

The President may mark or veto legislation passed through Congress and has the power to recommend measures to Congress. The Congress might override a presidential veto although only by a two-thirds majority in all houses.

The President has the power to compose treaties along with the 'advice and consent' of the Senate and the power to recommend and obtain ambassadors. The President might not dissolve Congress or call particular elections, although does have the power to pardon criminals convicted of offences beside the federal government, pass executive orders, and along with the consent of the Senate, appoint Supreme Court justices and federal judges.

The President is voted for an unchanging term of four years and may provide a maximum of two terms. Initially there was no constitutional bound on the number of terms which a President could serve in office and the initially President George Washington set the precedent of serving easily two terms. Subsequent the election of Franklin D Roosevelt to a record four terms, this was chosen to limit terms to two and the relevant constitutional amendment was enacted in the year 1951.

The President is not voted directly through the voters although through an Electoral College representing each condition on the basis of a combination of the number of members in the Senate as two for all states regardless of size and the number of members in the House of Representatives as approximately proportional to population. The states along with the largest number of votes are for California that was 55, for Texas 38 and for 29 New York. The states along with the smallest number of votes; there are six of them that have merely three votes. The District of Columbia, that has no voting representation in Congress, it has three Electoral College votes. In consequence, thus, the Presidential election is not one election although 51.

The total 538 are vote for Electoral College. It means that, to become President, a candidate has to win at least two hundred and seventy electoral votes. The voting system awards the Electoral College votes from all states to delegates involved to vote for a specific candidate in a "winner take all" system, along with the exception of Maine and Nebraska that award their Electoral College votes as per to Congressional Districts quite than for the state like a whole. In practice, most states are definitely Democrat: for illustration, California and New York or definitely Republican: for illustration, Tennessee and Texas. Thus, candidates concentrate their emergences and resources on, that is known as "battleground states", those that may go to either party. The three largest battlefield or swing states are Florida by 29 votes, Pennsylvania by 20 and Ohio by 18. The others are Virginia by 13, Wisconsin by 10, Colorado by 9, and Iowa by 6 and Nevada by 6 votes.

Such system of election implies that a candidate can win the major number of votes nationwide although fail to win the major number of votes in the Electoral College and hence fail to become President. Conversely, in practice, this has occurred three times in United States history, most recently in 2000 years. If this looks strange at least to non-Americans, the clarification is that the 'founding fathers' who summarized the American Constitution did not wish to offer extreme power to the people and consequently devised a system which offers the eventual power of electing the President to members.

The place of Vice-President is voted on the similar ticket as like of the President and has the similar four-year term of office. The Vice-President is frequently illustrates as 'a heartbeat absent from the Presidency' as, in the event of the death or inability of the President, the Vice-President supposes the office. However, In practice, a Vice-Presidential candidate is chosen through the Presidential candidate, to 'balance the ticket' in the Presidential election i.e., represent a diverse geographical or gender or ethnic constituency and for each practical reasons, the position merely carries the power accorded to it through the President: that is generally very little a main exception has been Dick Cheney under George W Bush. The official responsibilities of the Vice-President are to sit like a member of the "Cabinet" and like a member of the National Security Council and to serve as ex-officio President of the Senate.

Presidential Primaries:

A significant feature of the American political system is: the two main parties: the Democrats and the Republicans: hold a system of primaries to find out who will be their candidate in the usual election. Such primaries are mostly significant when it appears to the 4-yearly Presidential election.

The key point to know is that formally the Democratic and Republican Parties selected their Presidential candidate by a vote of delegates at a national convention and not directly by the diverse ballots in the different primaries.

All parties allocate delegates to all states, approximately proportionate to its size in numbers of citizens. There are two kinds of delegates. The general delegates are those who are selected through voters to back an exact candidate. Technically these delegates are pledged to that candidate although there are conditions where they can switch their help. After that there are what the Democrats call super delegates and the Republicans call unpledged delegates those are notable figures in the party like former presidents, state governors and members of the two houses of Congress who are free to back whichever candidate they desire. They can do this any time they want. They can change also their mind before the gathering.

The House of Representatives:

It is the lower chamber in the bicameral legislature identified collectively as Congress. The founders of the US conversely the House to be the politically dominant unit in the federal system and in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, the House acted as the main forum for political debate. Conversely, subsequently the Senate has been the dominant body.

The Senate:

It is the upper chamber in the bicameral legislature identified collectively as Congress. The innovative intention of the authors of the United States Constitution was that the Senate must be a regulatory group, less politically dominant than the House. Though, as the mid 19th century, the Senate has been the dominant chamber and certainly today it is possibly the most powerful higher house of any legislative body in the world.

The Senate comprises hundred members, all of whom illustrates a state and serves for a 6-year term one third of the Senate stands for vote every two years.

In the event that a member of the Senate dies or resigns before the ending of the six-year term, no particular vote is held to fill the opportunity. Conversely, the Governor of the state which the Senator represented recommends somebody to serve till the next set of Congressional votes while a normal vote is held to fill the vacancy.

The Supreme Court:

It comprises nine Justices: the Chief Justice of the US and eight Associate Justices. They have equal weight while voting on a case and the Chief Justice has no casting vote or power to instruct colleagues.

The Justices are nominated through the President and confirmed along with the 'advice and consent' of the Senate. Since federal judges, the Justices serve throughout "good behavior", meaning fundamentally that they serve for life and can be eliminated only through resignation or through impeachment and subsequent conviction.

The Supreme Court is the highest court in the US. The court deals along with issues pertaining to the federal government, disputes among states, and interpretation of the Constitution. This can declare legislation or executive action made at any type of level of the government like unconstitutional, nullifying the law and generating precedent for future law and decisions.

Political Parties & Elections:

For an extent fairly extraordinary in democratic countries, the American political system is dominated through two political parties as: the Republican Party and the Democratic Party well this frequently termed as the 'Grand Old Party' or GOP. Such are extremely old and extremely stable parties: the Democrats go back to the 1824 and the Republicans were founded in the 1854 year.

The major reason for the dominance of these two parties is:  like most the other Anglo-Saxon countries; the electoral system is 'first past the post' or easy majority that, combined along with the huge voter size of the constituencies in the House and even more the Senate, makes sure that effectively merely two parties can play. Another key factor is the vast influence of money in the American electoral system. As effectively a candidate can use any quantity he can raise not permitted in many the other countries and because one can buy distribution time again not permitted in many countries, the United States can only 'afford' two parties or to put it the other way, candidates of any one party face a formidable financial barrier to entry.

The Federal System:

Knowing the federal nature of the US is critical to appreciating the complications of the American political system.

Mostly political systems are formed top-down. A national system of government is constructed and a specific amount of power is freed to lower levels of government. The exclusive history of the US means that, in this case, the political system was formed bottom-up.

First, several two centuries or so ago, there were thirteen autonomous states who, subsequent the War of Independence against the British, formed a system of government where the different states somewhat reluctantly ceded power to the federal government. Approximately a century later, the respective authority of the federal government and the particular states was a problem at the heart of the Civil War while there was a bloody conflict over who had the right to find out whether slavery was or was not permissible. Along with the exception of Switzerland, no one Western democracy spreads power to the similar degree like America.

Nowadays the powers of the federal government keep strictly restricted by the Constitution - the critical Tenth Amendment of the 1791 year:  that leaves a great deal of authority to the individual states.

  • All states have an executive, a legislature and a judiciary.
  • The head of the executive is the Governor who is directly voted.
  • The legislature comprises a Senate and a House of Representatives; however, it is the state of Nebraska that has a unicameral system.
  • The judiciary comprises a state system of courts.
  • The fifty states are divided in counties as parishes in Louisiana and boroughs in Alaska. All counties have its court.

Recent Trends:
In each political system, there is a disconnection among the formal arrangements as set out in the constitution and relevant laws and among the informal arrangements as arises in practice. Arguably, in the US this disconnects is sharper than in mainly the other democratic systems since:

  • the United States Constitution is an older one in late 18th century while most countries have had some constitutions along with the recent one typically being a 20th century creation
  • the United States Constitution is relatively irreversible consequently it is very complicated to modify the provisions to reflect the reforms which have come about eventually from the pressure of events
  • because the United States adopted its Constitution, the United States has turn into the preeminent world economic and political power that has brought about main changes in how the Presidency controls, most particularly in the international sphere.

The impact of private funding of political campaigns and of lobbyists and particular interest groups in political decision making has risen considerably. Candidate increase their own money for campaigns, there is efficiently unlimited on the money which can be spent in such campaigns is termed as super Political Action Committees and the levels of expenditure in particular in the presidential primaries and election accurate: that have increased astronomically. In the 2012presidential race, both Mitt Romney and Barack Obama spent over one billion dollars. All this has cause several observers explaining the American political system like a plutocracy, as it is effectively controlled through private finance from big businesses that expect certain policies and practices to obey from the candidates they are funding.

The nature of political debate in the US has become markedly more bitter and partisan. The personal lifestyle and also the political record of a candidate may well be challenged and still the patriotism or religiosity of the candidate might be termed as into question. While the politics of most European countries has turned into more consensual, United States domestic politics has turn into polarized and tribal. Since a result, the political culture is frequently more concerned along with satisfying the demands of the political 'base' quite than attempting to attain a national consensus.

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