The Founding Fathers established three branches of government to ensure that no one person or group of people could amass too much power. The three branches of the U.S. government are the executive branch, the legislative branch and the judicial branch. Each of the three branches is balanced by the powers of the other two coequal branches.Continue Reading
The executive branch is headed by the president, who serves as head of state and as the civilian commander in chief of the armed forces. The president is charged with implementing and enforcing the laws written by the U.S. Congress. Thus, he is responsible for appointing the heads of the various federal agencies. The vice president is also part of the executive branch and assumes the presidency if the president becomes incapacitated, dies or is removed from office.
The legislative branch writes the nation's laws. It is comprised of the House of Representatives and the Senate. The Constitution allots each state two senators; representatives are allotted to each state based on population. States with larger populations receive more representatives. Additionally, Washington D.C., Puerto Rico and four other U.S. territories have representatives, but they are not allowed to vote.
The judicial branch interprets the nation's laws. Federal judges are appointed by the president and approved by the Senate. The Supreme Court is the highest court in the land, and its decisions must be followed by all lower courts. Supreme Court justices are appointed for life by the president and approved by the Senate.Learn more about Types of Government
The term "oligarchy" refers to a form of government that concentrates power in the hands of an elite group, rather than a central figure, an elected assembly or the people at large, and the primary advantages appear to exist for the benefit of that elite group, while the disadvantages apply to the rest of the citizens who have to follow laws written to benefit that small group. Oligarchies often come about as a response to social disaster, such as the fallout in Germany after World War I or the ruling group in the fictitious country of Oceania that emerged in George Orwell's novel "1984."Full Answer >
A democracy is a government in which the people possess the ultimate power, while a dictatorship is a government in which the ruler possesses all the power. The exercise of power in a democracy varies, as the people may exercise their own voting power directly or through elected representatives through a free system of voting.Full Answer >
The principle of popular sovereignty is a method used in the 19th century, which states that the people of a given area create and sustain the power of their government through the representatives the people elect. This was enacted during the Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854, and it was a compromise on the slavery issue that was paramount at the time.Full Answer >
Democracy is a system of government based on the principle that the state's power is vested in the people and may be used by the people or their elected officials under a system of free elections. In theory, democracies may be either direct or representative.Full Answer >