Politics Of The United States
The United States is a federal constitutional republic, in which the President of the United States (the head of state and head of government), Congress, and judiciary share powers reserved to the national government, and the federal government shares sovereignty with the state governments.
The executive branch is headed by the President and is independent of the legislature. Legislative power is vested in the two chambers of Congress, the Senate and the House of Representatives. The judicial branch (or judiciary), composed of the Supreme Court and lower federal courts, exercises judicial power (or judiciary). The judiciary's function is to interpret the United States Constitution and federal laws and regulations. This includes resolving disputes between the executive and legislative branches. The federal government's layout is explained in the Constitution. Two political parties, the Democratic Party and the Republican Party, have dominated American politics since the American Civil War, although other parties have also existed.
There are major differences between the political system of the United States and that of most other developed democracies. These include greater power in the upper house of the legislature, a wider scope of power held by the Supreme Court, the separation of powers between the legislature and the executive, and the dominance of only two main parties. Third parties have less political influence in the United States than in other developed country democracies.
The federal entity created by the U.S. Constitution is the dominant feature of the American governmental system. However, most people are also subject to a state government, and all are subject to various units of local government. The latter include counties, municipalities, and special districts.
This multiplicity of jurisdictions reflects the country's history. The federal government was created by the states, which as colonies were established separately and governed themselves independently of the others. Units of local government were created by the colonies to efficiently carry out various state functions. As the country expanded, it admitted new states modeled on the existing ones.
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“The politics of the exile are fever,
theater of the aging convalescent.
You wait in the wings and rehearse.
You wait and wait.”
—Marge Piercy (b. 1936)
“In a moment when criticism shows a singular dearth of direction every man has to be a law unto himself in matters of theatre, writing, and painting. While the American Mercury and the new Ford continue to spread a thin varnish of Ritz over the whole United States there is a certain virtue in being unfashionable.”
—John Dos Passos (18961970)
“The admission of the States of Wyoming and Idaho to the Union are events full of interest and congratulation, not only to the people of those States now happily endowed with a full participation in our privileges and responsibilities, but to all our people. Another belt of States stretches from the Atlantic to the Pacific.”
—Benjamin Harrison (18331901)
“The history of American politics is littered with bodies of people who took so pure a position that they had no clout at all.”
—Ben C. Bradlee (b. 1921)
“So here they are, the dog-faced soldiers, the regulars, the fifty-cents-a-day professionals riding the outposts of the nation, from Fort Reno to Fort Apache, from Sheridan to Stark. They were all the same. Men in dirty-shirt blue and only a cold page in the history books to mark their passing. But wherever they rode and whatever they fought for, that place became the United States.”
—Frank S. Nugent (19081965)