Government is a system of rules for an organized group of people, usually a nation or state. It includes the national leadership, as well as local and state officials. It also includes national agencies like the police department and the mail service.
People often depend on government to help them survive and grow. They need it to help them protect themselves from danger and get things they need, such as food and water. The government also helps with other necessities, such as a place to live, education, and medical care.
In the United States, our government provides stability and security in the form of a military and police force. It also provides many valuable services, such as public education, public transportation, and mail service. Governments are also responsible for protecting common goods, which are things that all people may use free of charge but that are in limited supply, such as fish in the sea or clean air. This is an important part of government because if some people take too much from the available supply of these resources, there won’t be enough for everyone to enjoy (Figure 1.2).
The word “government” comes from the Latin gubernare, which means “to steer a ship.” Governments are essentially political institutions that have the power to manage an organized community, usually a State. A government’s goal is to provide a stable environment for the development of its citizens and to meet the needs of the community. It does this through laws and policies.
Many governments have a constitution that lays out the structure and powers of the government. It is written by a group of people known as a constitutional convention or a council of advisors. Governments may also have additional rules, such as how to vote and how bills become laws.
Some governments are run by a single person or a small number of people who work together to make decisions for the whole country. In this type of government, the leader is called a president or head of state. Others have a legislative branch, which makes the laws for the country or state. In the United States, this branch is made up of two parts, the House of Representatives and the Senate. The people who work in this branch are called legislators, or lawmakers. Americans call them members of Congress, while Britons call them MPs (Members of Parliament).
A government can be any one of several different kinds, including a democracy, a republic, a dictatorship, a monarchy, a tyranny, or a theocracy. The main differences between types of government are how decisions are made, who makes those decisions, and how they are enforced. The United States has a democratic form of government, which is a constitutional republic. It has three branches of government, the executive, the judicial, and the legislative. These branches of government have a division of responsibilities that helps to limit the power of any one branch of the government.