Government is the system or group of people who rule an organized community, typically a nation. Governments govern at the national, state, and local levels and provide many public goods that we all enjoy. These include a stable economy, secure borders, and the safety of citizens. Governments also provide social services like education, health care, and transportation infrastructure. In addition to these essential services, government at all levels protects those things that belong to everyone, but are of limited supply, such as fish in the sea or clean drinking water. Governments around the world are different in size and structure, but all serve a similar purpose: to ensure the well-being of its people.
In the United States, our form of government is a republic with three branches. Each branch has its own set of rules and responsibilities. The branch with legislative power is called Congress. Congress makes laws that dictate the country’s policies. The President can overturn a bill passed by Congress with a presidential veto. The Constitution requires that both chambers of Congress approve bills before they can be signed into law by the President.
The judicial branch reviews laws to determine whether they are constitutional or not. It also decides if a case should be heard in court and sets the budget for the judicial branch. The executive branch enforces the laws that the legislative and judicial branches pass. The President nominates Supreme Court Justices and judges of the appeals and district courts, and the Senate confirms these nominations. Congress can also direct the President to spend money on certain projects, known as earmarks.
The military, police, fire department, and postal service are all examples of government agencies. A government agency is any board, bureau, division, commission, committee, office, public authority, or public corporation performing a governmental or proprietary function for the State or any one or more municipalities of the State.
Most governments are based on a philosophy that believes it is best to have someone in charge who has the authority to manage the nation’s affairs. This person may be a single individual (an autocracy), a select few people (an oligarchy), or the entire population (a democracy). Governments are also classified by how they obtain their political power. Some forms of government are considered dictatorships or totalitarian regimes, while others are democracies or republics.
Some governments are multiparty, which means multiple political parties compete for control of the government. The party with the most votes wins the election and then elects its members into various government positions. Governments are also regulated by the rules of democracy, which require that elected officials be accountable to their constituents. Some countries have a single-party system, where the government is controlled by one political party. Most nations, however, are a combination of the two.