Governments set the rules for everyday behavior for citizens, protect them from outside interference, and often provide for their well-being and happiness. They also help people understand their responsibilities and rights in society, organize resources for collective benefit, and make the system work efficiently. Governments exist at every level, from city governments and town councils to the federal government and Congress.
One important thing a government does is regulate access to common goods like wildlife and public land. Because these resources are in limited supply, they need protection so a few people do not take everything and leave others with nothing. Governments also make sure everyone has stability in their daily lives, through services like free public education, police and fire departments, and mail service. They raise money to pay for these services through taxes, and they draft budgets that determine how the revenue will be spent.
In addition, most Americans believe that it is the moral duty of citizens to help those in need. While this is true, it does not need to be done through government. A philanthropic spirit, whether it is based on religious beliefs or social justice ideas, can be fulfilled through individuals and organizations that do not need a government framework to govern. Government officials do need to be governed, however, because their power comes from the people and must be limited.
The Framers of the Constitution hoped to create a structure that would limit the power of government officials and ensure that their actions are transparent to the public. They envisioned a government with three main branches: executive, legislative and judicial. Each branch has its own responsibilities and powers, but they also share some of the same responsibilities. These responsibilities are to provide checks and balances so that no single branch of the government has too much power.
For example, the President can veto laws passed by Congress and the Supreme Court can overturn unconstitutional laws. This helps to ensure that the government is accountable to the citizens and that all decisions are made in a fair and reasonable manner.
Another way the Framers hoped to limit power was by creating a lawmaking process that required a majority of votes in order to pass bills. This system is known as a representative democracy. In this kind of a democracy, a few people out of all the citizens are elected to make political decisions for the whole country. These representatives are called members of the House of Representatives and Senate. Each member of the House and Senate is assigned to a committee whose members research, discuss, change and vote on bills. Learn more about how laws are made in the United States by visiting this federal website.
The American public gives positive ratings to the way their government handles many things, including responding to natural disasters, keeping food and medicine safe, preventing terrorism, protecting the environment and providing education. But the same polls show that Americans are more negative than positive about the efficiency and effectiveness of their government overall.