The Political System of the USA
The United States of America is a federal republic consisting of 50 states, with the District of Columbia as the seat of the national government. Each state has its own government and the state governments follow much the same pattern. The system of the federal, or national, government defined in the Constitution, is based on the separation of powers among three branches: the exectutive, the legislative and the judicial. This system provides a series of checks and balances because each branch is able to limit the power of the others. Before major changes can be made there must be agreement between all the branches.
The executive branch consists of the President, the Vice-president and government departments and agencies. The president has a powerful role: he or she can approve or stop laws proposed by Congress and can also suggest laws to Congress. In addition, the President appoints senior officials, such as heads of government departments and federal judges, though appointments must be approved by the Senate. The President is also Commnder-in-Chief of the military forces. The President is elected every four years to a four-year term of office, with no more than two full terms allowed. If the President is unable to continue in office, the job passes to the Vice-President who otherwise has little power. At present the USA is headed by the 44th president of the USA, Barack Obama, a member of the Democratic Party.
There are 14 departments of government. The heads of these departments make up the Cabinet, a group which meets regularly to discuss current affairs and advise the President. Each department has its own area of activity. The Department of Defense, for example, runs the military services. The Department of Health and Human Services runs several programmes including Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. The State Department advises the President on foreign affairs and runs embassies abroad.
The legislative branch of...