Sure, state and local governments allow many opportunities to get in touch with government, but in some ways federalism just makes government all the more confusing and unapproachable. Yet a democracy depends for its very livelihood on meaningful contacts between the people and the government. How does this happen in modern America?
Today many Americans take pride in their status as "independent voters," partly because they see parties as lacking vision for the country. Since many Americans have become disenchanted by partisan politics, they avoid identification as a "loyal Democrat" or a "staunch Republican." These negative attitudes toward parties are rooted in the roles that they play in American politics.
Elections form the foundation of the modern democracy, and more elections are scheduled every year in the United States than in any other country in the world. Campaigns åÑ where candidates launch efforts to convince voters to support them åÑ precede most elections. In recent years campaigns have become longer and more expensive, sparking a demand for campaign finance reform. No one questions the need for campaigns and elections, but many people believe that the government needs to set new regulations on how candidates and parties go about the process of getting elected to public office.
So, the election is over. How can the average American remain involved in politics without waiting for the next election? One chief means of influencing the American government is by joining an interest group an organization that pressures elected officials to enact legislation favorable to its causes.
The influence of the media is increased by the fact that campaigns today have become more focused on the individual than on the party. In order to win primaries, individual candidates seek media attention to gain attention from voters. As a result, do voters hold political power, or has the media simply replaced political parties as the primary force behind candidate selection?
Not since television has an innovation had the potential to impact politics greater than the Internet. With more and more Americans getting wired, the ability to reach millions of voters will be a lure which no politician can resist.
Despite promises made by presidential candidates, the President has no direct power to pass any legislation. This very important power lies solely with the House of Representatives and the Senate.
The Constitution specifically grants Congress its most important power the authority to make laws. A bill, or proposed law, only becomes a law after both the House of Representatives and the Senate have approved it in the same form. The two houses share other powers, many of which are listed in Article I, Section 8. These include the power to declare war, coin money, raise an army and navy, regulate commerce, establish rules of immigration and naturalization, and establish the federal courts and their jurisdictions.
Partisanship or fierce loyalty to one's political party generally is not admired in the United States today. Many people today call themselves independent voters, and bickering between the parties in Congress is often condemned. But parties are very important in both the House of Representatives and the Senate today. Even though political parties do not play as big a role in elections as they once did, they still provide the basic organization of leadership in Congress.
Committees help to organize the most important work of Congress considering, shaping, and passing laws to govern the nation. 8,000 or so bills go to committee annually. Fewer than 10% of those bills make it out for consideration on the floor.
A paunchy, older, silver-haired man with no facial hair wearing an ill-fitting dark suit. This is the image evoked in the minds of many Americans when they try to picture a Representative or Senator. This stereotype is actually grounded in truth, although the makeup of Congress has changed a great deal in the past few decades.
Creating legislation is what the business of Congress is all about. Ideas for laws come from many places ordinary citizens, the president, offices of the executive branch, state legislatures and governors, congressional staff, and of course the members of Congress themselves.
The presidency was created in the image of George Washington, the man everyone believed would first occupy the office. Washington's personality shaped the expectation that the President should be wise, moderate, dignified, and nonpartisan. Of course, the President could not be all-powerful like the king of England. This person had to be sensitive to treading on individual rights and liberties. But especially for the fledgling nation, strong leadership was necessary.
The 21st century dawned on a very different presidency than the one created at the end of the 1700s. Constitutional provisions limited the early presidency, although the personalities of the first three George Washington, John Adams, and Thomas Jefferson shaped it into a more influential position by the early 1800s. However, throughout the 1800s until the 1930s, Congress was the dominant branch of the national government. Then, in the past seventy years or so, the balance of power has shifted dramatically, so that the executive branch currently has at least equal power to the legislative branch. How did this shift happen?
Just as the power of the presidency has grown tremendously in recent years, so have the numbers of people that surround the executive branch. George Washington began his first term with only one aide his nephew who he paid out of his own pocket.
The founders feared the masses. Cautious about granting powers to the general voting public, they created a safety valve against popular will. The American people do not technically elect their President. Electors do.
The evolving power and enlarging scope of responsibilities have made the modern presidency a very big job. Some even say that it is impossible for one person to handle it all.
Harry S Truman man of the people. John F. Kennedy bold, articulate leader with a great deal of charisma. Richard Nixon introspective President with a deep knowledge of and interest in foreign policy. Each person who has held the office of President has brought to it a unique style. Each style reflects a President's character.
A bureaucrat is someone who works in administrative capacity for the government. How important are bureaucrats and their government agencies in actually running the United States government? According to some, they are the real government the ones behind the scenes who go to work when the politicians are enjoying the spotlight.
The original bureaucracy of the federal government consisted only of employees from three small departments State, Treasury, and War. The executive branch employs today almost three million people. Not only have the numbers of bureaucrats grown, but also the methods and standards for hiring and promoting people have changed dramatically.